Saturday, August 20, 2011

It's official, I'm falling to bits... arthritis

Or maybe just wearing out?

My left thumb has been really sore for a while, more so when I use my hand to grip... I've been wearing a brace for months first to remind myself that it's sore, and to be careful,  and second to support my thumb. My thumbs have been sore for a long time, but not enough to really be concerned about. This winter my left thumb has been quite sore all the time, more so with use - and peeling potatoes is agony, I have to rest the spud in the palm of my hand and try to peel it like that. It doesn't seem to be improving.

I dragged myself to the doctor on Tuesday last.

The doctor thought it could be arthritis or tendonitis - it it was tendonitis it would get better, if  it was arthritis it probably wouldn't get better. I had done some whippersnippering the day before and it was quite sore. He suggested that I wait a week and if it was still sore I was to use the referrals he'd given me for an xray and an ultrasound.

My wrist and thumb didn't improve at all, and in fact for the  next few nights it  was quite sore when I was trying to sleep. Usually it gets better after I sleep and improves after a few days, but not this time.

As I was away from work on Thursday I decided to take the opportunity to go and have the xray and organise the ultrasound. It was local so was easy to  arrange.

Thursday I had the xray and Friday I fronted  for the ultrasound. It's amazing what they can do these days, instant images! I haven't seen the report on the ultrasound, but the report on the xray is:


Severe degenerative change is seen at the first carpometacarpal joint at the base of the thumb. The joint space is markedly narrowed with periarticular sclerosis and marginal osteophytes. Mild degeneration is seen at the scaphotrapezium and trapezoid interspace. The rest of the joint spaces are resonably preserved. There is not bony abnormality seen or any fractures. No erosive changes.

There is severe osteoarthritic changes seen at the carpometacarpal joint at the base of the thumb.
I just found a link on basilar thumb arthritis. OMG! This is it!
How do I know if I have thumb arthritis?
Most people notice a gradual onset of symptoms over time. Pain is usually located at the base of the thumb, but may radiate into the wrist or hand. At first the pain may feel like a dull "ache" but over time it may become more severe. Activities such as opening a jar, turning door knobs, using a key, or even buttoning a shirt can become difficult due to pain and weakness. Some people feel that they do not have the strength they used to have in the hand. Occassionally, a sudden "sharp" pain in the thumb may cause someone to drop a cup of coffee. Some people notice a bump at the base of their thumb, which may be painful to the touch.
 And I thought I was just being a bit of a hypochondriac.


Anonymous said...

I have osteoarthritis in both hips (one due to be replaced), right elbow, right thumb/hand/wrist as you describe.

I take Panadol Osteo which does help.

The most effective long-term solution I have found is Elmore Oil. Use at least twice per day, don't expect any noticeable result for about two weeks but keep at it, it does work.


kae said...

Thanks, Sandi!
I have a friend who has had a hip replacement (one side) and needs a knee replacement, but they won't do it as she's too young at only 33 I think. She's not going to be at work for a while as she's having bilateral arthroscopies in September. I hope that helps her!

If every I whinge about aches and pains she straightens me out!

kae said...

The Panadol Osteo, how can it be any different to normal Panadol as they have exactly the same ingredients? (And they charge about double for them!)

Anonymous said...

Panadol Osteo, how can it be any different

That's what I asked my chemist too but it's longer lasting, and he was right, you can only get it on presc.

Fellow arthy sufferer

kae said...

Hey, anon, it's an over-the-counter medication in Qld. I'm sure I've seen it in the supermarket... Here it is at Chemist Warehouse, where it's only a pharmacist only medication if you buy more than 9 packs at a time.

At $4.99 for 96 caplets it's cheap, too.

I've been taking nurofen at night to help me sleep for a few years (because of my neck and shoulders), and I've recently found the cheap equivalent to digesic (panadol 500mg and codeine 10 mg) for about the same price. It's not good for me to take the nurofen (asthma), and the codeine is bad, too.

Anonymous said...

Sounds familiar, though mine hasn't been diagnosed with xrays or examination by a doc.

Voltaren gel for the bad times, coupled with an analgesic for the worst times.

Getting old ain't for sissies...

bruce said...

Read the Panadol Osteo package carefully. It doesn't say it is only paracetamol, only that it 'includes' it, if I'm not mistaken.

I think it's one of those special drugs like the ones for period pain, with secret ingredients, narrowly targeted.

Kae, get a plumber in to fix all your taps to easy turning. Buy a bunch of stuff like big-handle scissors, easy bottle/jar openers.

kae said...

Hi Bruce

The osteo is slow release, so I suppose you pay more for that technology. I'll have to pick some up when I go to the cheap chemist in Ipswich next weekend.

The package must state what drug/s are in the package. I checked some of the ones specifically marketed for period pain and osteo etc, the quantity of the drug is the same, it's the slow release. (Personally, I found nothing worked for period pain for me until I found naprogesic, which is like nurofen.)

I've survived open day 2011... just.

I've sat down in my arm chair and I don't want to get up and cook anything for dinner, but I'm hungry....


I hadn't thought about getting the taps changed, but I'll need to look into that.

The washers need changing anyway...

1735099 said...

Next time you're in Brisbane, visit Independent Living Centre, Level One, Cnr Newmarket & Enoggera Road Newmarket Qld 4051. Website -

ORPO1 said...

Got some arthritis in the shoulders. I notice most when hooking a fuel hose to the airplane or tightening screws on panels above my head.
Then there is the osteoporosis. Found after a compression fracture of the T-9 vertebrae. Spent three and a half months in a brace!
Then there was the renal mass from about two years ago. Left kidney went bye bye!
I can relate, Kae. Boy, can I ever relate!
Hang in there, kiddo. Thinking of you.

Caz said...

Definitely pursue getting the easy flippy taps Kae, bathroom, laundry, kitchen - where ever you have taps.

Make sure you're hitting up on Vitamin D and Omega 3s too.

Anonymous said...

I have handles on my water taps, 'european-style' handles on most of the doors in the house, and am working through all the medicine bottles to get them "un-child-proof." My biggest hassle is sewing - embroidery needles are SMALL - by necessity - but it makes sewing much more difficult. Buttoning shirts is no fun - and I wish the buttons on my camera were bigger, too.

Osteoporosis, too. Really need to get a scan scheduled, been a long long time since I had anything checked other than the -oscopy and yearly blood work.