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I Don't Want to Stop Doing Things I Enjoy!


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#1 TamaraB

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 10:52 PM

Hi again all!! I hope everyone has been doing well!! :VeryHappy: I have an issue that I am REALLY hoping you guys can help me with.

Every year my fiance' and I grow a vegetable garden, I absolutely love it. They require a lot of work (my least favorite thing is the weed and grass plucking!) but we both find it rewarding and relaxing. My favorite part is watering, silly but I love the smell and the cool mist from the water feels so wonderful on a hot day. Unfortunately, the last few times I have started watering the garden, half way through he has to take over. My hand starts hurting and as crazy as this is going to sound, my hand is "frozen" in the position of holding the garden hose. My fingers will not straighten back out on their own, they remain in the curled position until I force them to straighten with the other hand. The best way I can explain it is that it feels like trying to pull magnets away from each other to try to straighten them on their own and they just will not straighten until forced!

We have enough problems without having to give up the things we enjoy! Does anyone else experience this problem and what have you found to help? Are there any hand exercises that would be beneficial? Thank you for any help/advice you can give!!


Stay Well!!

Tammy

:happy-day:

#2 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 08:02 AM

Hi Tammy,

I'm sorry you have experienced trigger fingers. I know how alarming it is the first few times it occurs, especially when we don't know what it is, and particularly when we have scleroderma, too.

I frequently get trigger fingers from holding my hands in one position too long. As I understand, it is a common occurrence in healthy people, especially women, and it can also occur along with other conditions like diabetes and arthritis. Scleroderma is a form of arthritis (the most rare form, actually). Anyway, it just strikes out of the blue. For me it often occurs when I'm carrying something or even trying to cut food, or doing artwork (gripping the colored pencil or brush for too long or unnecessarily hard). I just have to wait it out, as eventually the fingers will uncurl. I also try to modify whatever I'm doing by using another approach or even having someone else do it.

It is such a common thing that even primary care doctors are very unimpressed with it. I think they lump it in the same category as a common cold <yawn>. Of course, the first thing to do is to stop doing whatever it is that is inspiring it at the moment, and to modify our technique in the future, if we can. So for example, I got a rolling shopping bag to help avoid the weight of shopping bags. Sometimes you just can't avoid whatever it is and then you just have to wait it out while it eventually relaxes, usually within a few minutes. They say anti-inflammatories can help, but I didn't find that to be the case for me, plus it is so unpredictable that how could you really tell if it was working or if you were just enjoying a natural respite from it?

What's happening is that the tendon sheath is swelling up and preventing easy sliding of the tendons, so they stick. When it happens, try to just relax, figure out another approach for whatever you are doing, remember not to grip anything too tightly (especially things like a steering wheel), and wait it out.

Surgery can be done to widen the tendon sheaths, but that is usually reserved for the cases where the finger is permanently stuck. Me, I'd much rather adapt because it is all my fingers, not just one, and overall it is a very minor disruption, meaning that once I understood what was happening, I filed it in the category of "interesting party trick" rather than "life threatening disaster".

I'd say, keep on gardening and watering the lawn! Just get an automatic sprinkler or have your fiance' do the watering, while you enjoy another aspect of gardening -- such as smelling the blossoms!

Here are some warm, understanding trigger finger hugs to tide you over:
:emoticons-group-hug:
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#3 Chopper

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 08:31 AM

Shelley,

I enjoyed your response.

Tammy,

I love watering my gardens too! It's therapeutic! Here's one idea if you're using a nozzle that you have to squeeze, buy a metal nozzle that screws open/close to control the stream. That way it won't take as much effort and you can even loop it over your arm and steady the nozzle with your other hand. Happy gardening! I love this time of year too!

Chopper
Limited Scleroderma, Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Celiac, Gastroparesis, GERD, and Gastritis.

#4 janey

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:32 PM

Tammy,
I water my garden every morning so I do know what you are going through. I did exactly what Chopper suggested and switched to a wide metal nozzle that I don't have to squeeze. I also wear gloves which keep my hands, joints and muscles warm. I don't get the cramping that you do, but I use to. Hand exercises do help me in many ways. Please check out our section on Hand and Joint Involvement. There are two articles one from the Mayo Clinic and one from WebMD that provide a bunch of hand exercises for people with arthritis. I highly recommend them!

Keep do whatever you can, but when you need help, please do not hesitate to ask for it.
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#5 Joelf

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 11:25 AM

Hi Tammy,

I know exactly what you mean! I'm not really a gardener; I like fiddling around but don't do the back breaking hard work like digging (what else are husbands for?? ;) :lol: ) but as this year has been so dry I've had to do a lot of watering as it seems a shame to let everything die through my idleness!

My hands have become very stiff whilst plying the hosepipe and also it seems to make my Raynaud's worse. Janey's links to the hand exercises are good ones; we've recently been away and driven for a few hours and I noticed how swollen and stiff my fingers were.

Shelley's right; you still want to be able to enjoy your garden despite the Sclero fingers; an automatic waterer or a willing fiance is a real bonus!! :lol:

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#6 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 03:48 PM

Hello Tammy

I've never had the problem you describe but have had cramp in my fingers which is a real nuisance particularly as I already have sclerodactyly hands. Mind you we sclerodermians are very adaptable (nearly said flexible but we ain't that!) and we find workarounds. My favourite work around is called A N Other! :lol:

Take care.
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#7 TamaraB

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 12:30 AM

Thank you everybody for the great advice! I must say, you guys are as funny as you are helpful!! :you-rock:

I did buy a new nozzle for the hose and that has helped tremendously! Saves my hands for more important things (like plucking the weeds!). I am definately going to check out those hand excersises, I just may be a weed pulling, garden watering, vegetable picking queen in no time!!

Shelly,

A VERY BIG THANK YOU TO YOU!! Your post described my problem totally!! I was very relieved to see that it's not sclero related or a joint problem! My stomach couldn't handle anti-inflammatories, it bleeds enough as it is! (One of those "unresolved" issues of the stomach lining being inflamed due to long term anti-inflammatories use, despite my protests that I have never used them "long term".) Lee (my fiance') found it amusing, thinks he has made me into a bona fide country girl now that I have trigger fingers!

Again, Thank you all!!

Tamara

#8 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 06:22 AM

Hi Tamara,

I'm delighted that you found a happy solution to your gardening/watering problem so that you can continue doing what you love, with some adaptations!

:emoticon-congratulations:

I just want to clarify that I didn't exactly mean to imply that there is no relationship between trigger fingers and arthritis or scleroderma; just that it is very common even in the healthy population so to most doctors it is about as exciting as the common cold, which as we all know nearly bores them to tears.

It is something to mention and to have documented in your medical records, and it might be part of scleroderma hand involvement, since I also have scleroderma and slight hand involvement (the usual carpal tunnel, plus ulnar drift, and lots of PT for scleroderma hand issues in the past.) It's not unusual for scleroderma to cause tendon problems, and trigger fingers are part of that.

However, by themselves, trigger fingers are also very common in healthy people and there's no special, different treatment for them if they happen to occur or be caused by scleroderma (at least, not that I know of.)

A thing I forgot to mention is to never try to "force" trigger fingers to straighten. Usually they will relax on their own within a few minutes or just about the time you've figured out a satisfactory work-around. I've had luck sometimes with running my hands under slightly cool water; with scleroderma and Raynaud's though, the key word is "slightly" because too cold may trigger an attack of Raynaud's which just takes this cool party trick to a whole new level. "Look here folks, in booth number one, we have red, white and blue trigger fingers! And the gentleman in booth two can pop his eyes completely out of their sockets!"

:emoticon-dont-know:
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.