Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory, multisystem, autoimmune disorder. It is a disabling and painful condition which can lead to substantial loss of mobility due to pain and joint destruction. The disease is also systemic in that it often also affects many extra-articular tissues throughout the body including the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs, and muscles... The symptoms that distinguish rheumatoid arthritis from other forms of arthritis are inflammation and soft-tissue swelling of many joints at the same time (polyarthritis). The joints are usually affected initially asymmetrically and then in a symmetrical fashion as the disease progresses. The pain generally improves with use of the affected joints, and there is...

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Deformation and Hands

I have a question. I know everyone is differant.

How soon do fingers and hands deform? I have unoffically had RA since 08 and offically by the right dr in Nov. 09.

So far since in one year my first finger on my right hand has turned in ward and my index finger is only now starting to turn in ward, my pinky is bowing.

On my left hand only my first finger is turning inward.

On average how long does it take for RA to fully affect your hands/fingers.

Replies

deleted_user
deleted_user

I have the same question. I have had a swollen and stiff index finger for one year that was diagnosed as being caused by RA. Had two MDs hand experts tell me it was OA and it was part of getting older. Then had an MRI and surprise surprise I have RA damage in several fingers and hand. I can't straighten that finger and it is curving now. I haven't seen my Rheumatologist since diagnosed. The last two visits were with the NP. Generally I don't mind seeing an NP since I am one also but she is unable to answer my questions thoroughly. I'll ask MD at next visit. The way I understand it is these new medications should help prevent the severe deformities that use to occur so rapidly in the past. That is why they like to start the meds so quickly now. I hope you are being treated aggressively since you already have joint changes. If not, please do get treatment because a lot of the deformities can be prevented. Believe me I know docs can be a pain. Keep looking for the best one for you but don't delay treatment. Big hug. Carolyn
lycesq
lycesq

I was diagnosed in 2001 and have severe RA. I started aggressive treatment immediately. I have a little swelling in my fingers, but no deformation at all.

I agree with SCCarly, early and aggressive treatment is the key. I've heard the first six months are critical in avoiding deformities on the average.

Lynne
deleted_user
deleted_user

my ra was diagnosed because of the deformities in my fingers, so i'm thinking that's where it started. and, after being on meds for the last 3 years, my hands have gotten worse, then better, now worse. today is almost unbearable-but that's cuz i overdid it cookin yesterday! agressive treatment is great, but it's finding the right med to slow the progression. good luck!
hugs,
brat
deleted_user
deleted_user

The only damage I have in my hands and fingers was during the first year. Once I got on better meds, the problem stopped. That means a DMARD and/or biologic. If you are on anti-inflammatories or cortisone, the deformation will continue. Actually, it continues slowly even with the better meds, but not as much twisting and impact, for me anyway.

I agree you definitely need to see a rheumatologist and get the right treatment.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I've only been diagnosed this last month but my hands are the reason I was diagnosed...they've been swollen red and painful for 3 months now. My Rheumie said it looks like they're damaged already. I'll have to wait for x-rays for more info. I have yet to start my treatment (waiting on my immunizations before MTX.) Really, really praying it gets under control because I'm a seamstress and need my hands for sewing.
deleted_user
deleted_user

When I was diagnosed two years ago with moderate to severe RA, based on my "numbers," I had stiffness and pain in my hands and could not make a fist with my left hand. I was started on Plaquenil, then MXT, and have been on Enbrel injections for 3 months. So far I have no bone erosion anywhere and my hands look normal (when they are not flaring). I have had no major flares in over a month and am praying that I am on the way to remission. I think catching it early and getting on the Enbrel has prevented, or at least slowed the deformity process. Good luck. I hope you get the right med mix that will stop your bone erosion.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I'm no Dr. but I think the speed with which deformation takes place is widely variable from patient to patient just like the disease itself.
lycesq
lycesq

FYI - just to help with the hand pain, the voltaren my rheumy gave me does help (gel form of arthrotec). It doesn't smell like a lot of topicals do and it has helped!

Lynne
naturegirl65
naturegirl65

Can't really say, I think everyone is different.
I have had RA 20 yrs and I have deformities to some degree, deviation and gnarliness! in all my fingers except my pinky ones, For some reason they are playing nicely! but considering things I can still grip not too bad, the fingers overlap when I make a fist, but I still can grab. My thumb base hurts and my wrists hurt after a while of holding something. I still can type for short amounts of time. I can still play piano for a short time.

Visually you can clearly see I have arthritis in my hands, but really they are not as bad as doctors had predicted long ago and somehow things are remaining stable, not getting worse. So I have a reasonable grip and some dexterity.
now someone else's hands maybe far worse and are not able to do all kinds of things.
I think my knees are far worse than my hands but for someone else it may the other way round.
I would try not to compare and think what happens to one person is surely going to happen to another or to yourself.

For any wonderful reason you may go into remision, you may find a solution to stop the progression.
Hang on to that hope.
deleted_user
deleted_user

thank you. I'm on methotrexate 2.5mg 6 tablets once a week. I have xrays that show deteration in my fingers and lower back. She was the only one to diagnose me. I found on the arthritis foundation a list of doctors and mine was on that list. Dr. Tracy Frech. Amazing doctor.
Caspiana
Caspiana

When I was diagnosed about a year ago the doctor immediately put me on first mtx and the mtx and enbrel. He told me the treatment has to be quick and aggressive in order to avoid deformity. So far the treatment has been working very well for me and I don't seem to have any deformity. I wish you well. Take care.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I've only been told that I have deterioration in my fingers. But that happened right away at the beginning of my diagnosis. I don't know if I have worse deterioration that it was, but I assume so because i was on prednisone for one year.