RA and sudden hand pain, couldn't hold my pen: Anyone?

Posted by anet @anet, Dec 15, 2021

I am 76 years old and have had RA since my 40’s. I have done well on methotrexate,my,aquenil, prednisone, and naprosyn. I have some problems with my right wrist—can hardly bend it. And the joint at the base of my thumb is deformed and sometimes painful. However, I was still able to use my hand ok until two days ago. I was signing some cards and when I finished I dropped my pencil and then could not pick it up. I discovered that I could not bend my thumb at the joint nearest the end of my thumb. I tried to write again and cannot hold the pencil like I always have. My thumb will not press on the pencil for me to write. I cannot figure out what happened so fast. One minute I was writing and a few minutes later could not. I have a routine appointment with my rheumatologist on December 21, but I wonder if anyone has had this happen. The joint in my thumb will not bend toward my index finger. I can push it over, but it comes back. It is like the muscle or tendon is not working at all. I am hoping something can be done about it. I can bend all of the other fingers, but the thumb will not go over to make a fist.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Autoimmune Diseases group.

Hey @anet, I added your question to the Autoimmune Diseases group as well to help you connect with others dealing with rheumatoid arthritis like @hilary62 @ellens @tarmansbks @boomerexpert @vickiekay @jewel8888 @bluebird6156 @kozlo52 @marm7756 @kenyalama @sueinmn. I'm hoping someone will be able to share from their experience.

Anet, had you written a lot of cards and held your hand in the same position for a long time? Have you had this happen before?

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@colleenyoung

Hey @anet, I added your question to the Autoimmune Diseases group as well to help you connect with others dealing with rheumatoid arthritis like @hilary62 @ellens @tarmansbks @boomerexpert @vickiekay @jewel8888 @bluebird6156 @kozlo52 @marm7756 @kenyalama @sueinmn. I'm hoping someone will be able to share from their experience.

Anet, had you written a lot of cards and held your hand in the same position for a long time? Have you had this happen before?

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Thanks for the speedy answer! No I had six cards. All I wrote on each one was Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. My hand was not hurting at all. Then I put the cards aside and picked up the pen to put it In the drawer and I dropped it. I had trouble picking it up and noticed that the joint in my thumb was not working. It has been like that since Tuesday. I can’t hold a pencil as I normally would and my writing is terrible. My thumb is achy sometimes at the base, but it never caused a problem before. I have been looking online but can’t find anything that sounds exactly like this. I will see what the others think. Thanks.

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@anet

Thanks for the speedy answer! No I had six cards. All I wrote on each one was Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. My hand was not hurting at all. Then I put the cards aside and picked up the pen to put it In the drawer and I dropped it. I had trouble picking it up and noticed that the joint in my thumb was not working. It has been like that since Tuesday. I can’t hold a pencil as I normally would and my writing is terrible. My thumb is achy sometimes at the base, but it never caused a problem before. I have been looking online but can’t find anything that sounds exactly like this. I will see what the others think. Thanks.

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Hi I have RA and OA in both hands – I used to have that problem as my trapezium (bone at base of thumb) was deteriorating. My nickname was "crash" and my husband was threatening to buy plastic dishes. I literally never knew when the thumb would work, and was afraid to touch anything. I had surgery, and they patched me back together. Last year I had the other one fixed. Now I can do quite a lot – not a lot of strength, but a lot less pain, and no dropping.

The procedure is called a carpal metacarpal repair (CMC), and it is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries. Maybe that is what is happening with your hand?
Sue

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Hello everyone,
I haven’t been in touch for awhile. Too much going on but I have a “ new pain “ that started suddenly while enjoying a chat with a driver of the city van. Sudden pains and events happen to me often. From a vein in a hand that swells for no reason, burns, bursts, causes a bruise and pain’s gone but bruise stays, to itchy thumb (yes!! The base of the thumb itches ) and the sudden pain in the groin radiating to lower abdomen that even causes nausea is hiliacus /hip flexor myofascial pain syndrome. Anyone? I lost two precious weeks with diagnosis of constipation at the ER. I thought it was my operated hernia. I understand RA inflames the fascia, connective tissues, so your sudden pain in your thumb could be a contracted inflamed muscle fascia. Just saying. My PT gave me that diagnosis and it makes a lot of sense. Gave me exercises to relax the muscles and heat. Also pain meds that I don’t take supposedly methotrexate and Humira should do the trick but lately they do not.
Hope this info helps Anet! And please any friend suffering from myofascial pain syndrome and RA say hello. I mean let me know! Happy holidays to all my Mayo Connect friends wishing you to enjoy them with least amount of pain possible

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@sueinmn

Hi I have RA and OA in both hands – I used to have that problem as my trapezium (bone at base of thumb) was deteriorating. My nickname was "crash" and my husband was threatening to buy plastic dishes. I literally never knew when the thumb would work, and was afraid to touch anything. I had surgery, and they patched me back together. Last year I had the other one fixed. Now I can do quite a lot – not a lot of strength, but a lot less pain, and no dropping.

The procedure is called a carpal metacarpal repair (CMC), and it is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries. Maybe that is what is happening with your hand?
Sue

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Thanks, that sounds like a possibility. I do have pain at the base of my thumb. And I have trouble picking up a glass to drink. I am afraid of picking up things in stores for fear of breaking something. My hand has felt weak for a while, but I have always been able to bend the thumb and hold a pencil. I will definitely ask my doctor about this.

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@kenyalama

Hello everyone,
I haven’t been in touch for awhile. Too much going on but I have a “ new pain “ that started suddenly while enjoying a chat with a driver of the city van. Sudden pains and events happen to me often. From a vein in a hand that swells for no reason, burns, bursts, causes a bruise and pain’s gone but bruise stays, to itchy thumb (yes!! The base of the thumb itches ) and the sudden pain in the groin radiating to lower abdomen that even causes nausea is hiliacus /hip flexor myofascial pain syndrome. Anyone? I lost two precious weeks with diagnosis of constipation at the ER. I thought it was my operated hernia. I understand RA inflames the fascia, connective tissues, so your sudden pain in your thumb could be a contracted inflamed muscle fascia. Just saying. My PT gave me that diagnosis and it makes a lot of sense. Gave me exercises to relax the muscles and heat. Also pain meds that I don’t take supposedly methotrexate and Humira should do the trick but lately they do not.
Hope this info helps Anet! And please any friend suffering from myofascial pain syndrome and RA say hello. I mean let me know! Happy holidays to all my Mayo Connect friends wishing you to enjoy them with least amount of pain possible

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Thanks! I will mention this to my doctor as well. I have never really experienced flares. Have just been getting along quite well for a long time. On the same medications all along. I saw my doctor three months ago and had none of these problems. I am really upset over not being able to write pretty because I used to do calligraphy. But it’s not the end of the world and I am blessed to be doing as well as I am. I can do my writing on a computer.

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@anet

Thanks! I will mention this to my doctor as well. I have never really experienced flares. Have just been getting along quite well for a long time. On the same medications all along. I saw my doctor three months ago and had none of these problems. I am really upset over not being able to write pretty because I used to do calligraphy. But it’s not the end of the world and I am blessed to be doing as well as I am. I can do my writing on a computer.

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I have the same problem with my handwriting – between arthritis and a tremor, my printing and writing are not so lovely anymore. I now truly appreciate the typewritten letters I used to receive from my grandpa when he had the same problem!
Just keep on doing the best you can…
Sue

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Thank you, Sue. I’m trying. I did write a card this morning and it looked ok. Just took a while and my hand was tired. Waiting to see what the doctor says.

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My appointment with the hand surgeon was supposed to be on January 5, but it was changed to the 19th. I am upset at having to wait so long. I am afraid it will be more difficult to fix. I am doing ok with my hand except that I sometimes get electric shock feelings when I move it in a certain way. I am taking gabapentin for that and Tylenol for pain. I found a good pain relieving cream, too. I am certain I will need surgery, but won’t know when they will be able to schedule it until my appointment,

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@anet

My appointment with the hand surgeon was supposed to be on January 5, but it was changed to the 19th. I am upset at having to wait so long. I am afraid it will be more difficult to fix. I am doing ok with my hand except that I sometimes get electric shock feelings when I move it in a certain way. I am taking gabapentin for that and Tylenol for pain. I found a good pain relieving cream, too. I am certain I will need surgery, but won’t know when they will be able to schedule it until my appointment,

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@anet
I understand your frustration. With covid revving again appointments have changed somewhat with me too. They say they are shorthanded. I will be so glad when covid calms to a crawl.

If you can get your paperwork beforehand. Sometimes available online at their office website or they will let you pick it up or they can mail it to you. You will may need help like I did to fill it out and it is easier to do it at home.

Make sure you have written notes of your symptoms. .. and questions. I typed mine out on the computer and printed being I could not handwrite.

I am like Sue and have had thumb surgery. … it was almost 2 years ago. I actually had one at the right thumb base joint and another at the tendon at the joint below the nail (trigger thumb). It would catch and I could not move my thumb without assistance from my other hand. Writing became impossible. I'm still not sure why I did not have the surgeries at the same time.. maybe my surgeon just forgot about the trigger thumb… guess I should have asked more right before the surgery… but I thought she was doing it at same time.

I am 70 now and have always had an attention span problem. .. and now do not hear well. So now I haul my husband to appointments to help me. I had to go it alone because of covid rules in place on the trigger thumb surgery and I could not continue with physical therapy. I did well at home with videos.. balls, play dough with different size buttons hidden it for me to dig out. .. also squeezed the play dough. I worked with clothes pins and anything else I could think of the strengthen my hand. My hand did not go back to full strength and have not been able to do much crochet… just a small amount at a time.

I can wash and put away dishes without dropping them. I can fasten and unfasten buttons and zippers. My left left hand is weak and am having some thumb pain with it… I had to use it so much while recovering from the surgeries. I am now keeping up with exercises on both hands to keep the strength up.

I have osteoarthritis throughout my body… now bone on bone in one foot and think the same is happening in the other. Then there are other health problems..

Aging.. 🙄

If I can help you in any way just give me a holler.

ZeeGee

REPLY
@fourof5zs

@anet
I understand your frustration. With covid revving again appointments have changed somewhat with me too. They say they are shorthanded. I will be so glad when covid calms to a crawl.

If you can get your paperwork beforehand. Sometimes available online at their office website or they will let you pick it up or they can mail it to you. You will may need help like I did to fill it out and it is easier to do it at home.

Make sure you have written notes of your symptoms. .. and questions. I typed mine out on the computer and printed being I could not handwrite.

I am like Sue and have had thumb surgery. … it was almost 2 years ago. I actually had one at the right thumb base joint and another at the tendon at the joint below the nail (trigger thumb). It would catch and I could not move my thumb without assistance from my other hand. Writing became impossible. I'm still not sure why I did not have the surgeries at the same time.. maybe my surgeon just forgot about the trigger thumb… guess I should have asked more right before the surgery… but I thought she was doing it at same time.

I am 70 now and have always had an attention span problem. .. and now do not hear well. So now I haul my husband to appointments to help me. I had to go it alone because of covid rules in place on the trigger thumb surgery and I could not continue with physical therapy. I did well at home with videos.. balls, play dough with different size buttons hidden it for me to dig out. .. also squeezed the play dough. I worked with clothes pins and anything else I could think of the strengthen my hand. My hand did not go back to full strength and have not been able to do much crochet… just a small amount at a time.

I can wash and put away dishes without dropping them. I can fasten and unfasten buttons and zippers. My left left hand is weak and am having some thumb pain with it… I had to use it so much while recovering from the surgeries. I am now keeping up with exercises on both hands to keep the strength up.

I have osteoarthritis throughout my body… now bone on bone in one foot and think the same is happening in the other. Then there are other health problems..

Aging.. 🙄

If I can help you in any way just give me a holler.

ZeeGee

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Thank you so much for the suggestions. I had thought about all the paperwork that will have to be filled out and I am going to call tomorrow and ask if I can get it beforehand. I have rheumatoid arthritis but so far had been doing ok with my hands until the thumb thing. They hurt sometimes but I could still write. I have figured out a new way to hold a pencil, but can’t write very fast. I will type out my medications, etc. before I go, but I’m hoping to be able to get the forms online. I am 76. My husband is 77 and he is still able to help me a good bit even though he has health problems of his own. We have to go 50 miles to most of our doctor appointments, but we can both drive ok. I will let you know what happens and will probably be asking for advice. Thanks so much!
Anet

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@anet

My appointment with the hand surgeon was supposed to be on January 5, but it was changed to the 19th. I am upset at having to wait so long. I am afraid it will be more difficult to fix. I am doing ok with my hand except that I sometimes get electric shock feelings when I move it in a certain way. I am taking gabapentin for that and Tylenol for pain. I found a good pain relieving cream, too. I am certain I will need surgery, but won’t know when they will be able to schedule it until my appointment,

Jump to this post

I have RA and have intermittent pain with my hands. I use adaptive kitchen tools to help such as can opener, potato peeler. I’ve moved everyday China to lower shelves etc..
I tried CBD cream for pain until I realized I can’t take it with blood thinners. The CBD cream stopped the pain and brought me great relief. Check with your doctor about using this.
I wish you the best, Jill

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