Tag Archives: Hands

Dr. C’s Journal: Care Of Hand Osteoarthritis

I started having hand pain about 20 years ago, and booked a visit with the rheumatologist in my medical building. He looked at my hands and immediately knew that I had osteoarthritis.

The thumb musculature (the thenar eminence) was angled with respect to the plane of the rest of my hand and wasn’t flat like normal. Some of my joints were slightly swollen and even warm to the touch, and many of my fingers were beginning to get crooked.

He ordered a rheumatoid panel, uric acid and inflammatory markers. The normal results confirmed his diagnosis of osteoarthritis.

The middle and index fingers have taken a lot of trauma over the years. They are also the crookedest, for the same reason. With the thinning of my skin or you can see the outline of my tendons  on the palm of my hand, and some are a little bit bumpy and irregular. I am unable to make a tight fist anymore, although my fingers will flex to some degree.

I practice exercises on my wrist, hands and fingers, such as rotating my wrist and thumb in a circular fashion, touching my thumb to the tips of my fingers in sequence, squeezing a rubber ball, and flattening out my hand against the back of my head. Recently, I have noticed a little resistance when I try to straighten out my ring fingers after flexing them, and worried about developing trigger finger. On further reading I found that trigger finger is not more common in people who have osteoarthritis.

I do a lot of swimming, and am worried that the irritative force of the water regularly acting up on my hand might be making the hand pain worse. But my hands seem to be a little bit better with the hand exercises. There seems to be less pain, although maybe I have the same amount of pain but tolerate it better since I’m doing something about it. One never knows about a preventative program, since you’re an experiment of one. You have to have faith that what you are doing is beneficial, and in harmony with medical studies. Perhaps my anti-inflammatory diet and turmeric, as well as my good sleep and aerobic exercise is also helping.

—Dr. C.

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #61: EDEMA (SWELLING)

Swelling of the ankles becomes increasingly common as you get older. This swelling can be caused by thrombophlebitis, or skin infections which have been discussed in previous articles. Otherwise it is usually part of a condition called edema.

Edema is commonly caused by problems in the cardiovascular system, kidneys, or liver. Edema can occur in the face and abdominal cavity or elsewhere, But because of gravity and the fact that we are  usually upright-on our feet, it is usually is most prominent in the legs, especially the ankles. Edema can be caused by a normal pregnancy. The developing baby puts quite a strain on the heart and circulatory system.

Chronic accumulation of fluid in the tissues usually occurs because of heart and blood vessel problems, liver disease (albumin lack), diet (excess salt intake), kidney disease (deficient salt excretion), vein problems (valve malfunction), and lymphatic problems (surgical lymph node excision).

Obesity contributes by impacting the heart and liver primarily. Proper sleep, diet and exercise help in most of these areas, and edema is rare in healthy people.

I have always considered sugar(obesity, cardiovascular effects) and salt(hypertension, cardiovascular and  kidney load) as poisonous. I discovered the valve incompetence in the veins of my left leg because it became more blue than my right leg. With good exercise, sleep, diet program and compression stockings, edema never occurred.

The swelling and stretched shiny skin in the ankles that I see in many of my overweight friends makes a tempting target for germs of all kinds. and small skin sores often follow.

If you developed swelling in your ankles or other areas, it’s best to check with your doctor to get an explanation.

—Dr. C.