How to Navigate Joint Deformity in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hello my Gurus. So todays topic is deformity of the joints. I wanted to dive into this first because as someone who has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis my biggest fear is joint deformity. Not the pain, but ultimately the permanent damage of my joints. Don’t be alarmed, early diagnosis of RA does not cause immediate damage to joints. Joint deformity is caused by the lack of effective treatment over a long period of time. Wondering what are some things you can do to slow the progression? Look no further, but lets have a quick science lesson.

What is Deformation of the Joints?

Glad you asked. Joint deformity can have many different forms depending on the cause and the joint involved. A joint is the area where the two bones join together. Surrounding the joint is a fluid-producing tissue called the synovium, which is covered by a joint capsule. Deformity of the joint can occur  with disease or injury to any of these structures of the joints. As we know rheumatoid arthritis is one disease that can effect your joints overtime. Now there are a couple deformities that occurs with people with RA.

Ohhhh tell me more about that!

Well there are 4 types deformities that can happen in those with RA, but I will be talking about the 2 main ones I’ve experienced: Boutonniere and Swan-neck deformity.

  1. Boutonniere deformity: The middle finger joint bends towards the palm while the outer finger joint may bend opposite the palm
  2. Swan-neck deformity: The base of the finger and the outermost joint bend, while the middle joint straightens.

These are the two deformities that have occurred in my fingers within the last 2 years of my 6 year journey. Both pinkies have the swan-neck deformity and my finger next to my pinky on my right is boutonniere deformity. I am not going to lie, it gets to me at least once a week. But looking back there are something things I could of done to slow the deforming process of this disease.

Tell me more!!!

Here are 3 things you could do to help slow the progression of deformation of your joints:

  1. Take your Medication as Prescribed
  • I can’t say this enough. Please please please do not skip your dosages. You being inconsistent will hurt you in the long run. The purpose of the medication is to get your numbers/inflammation down. If you are not consistent it will not help get you into remission.
  1. Ask your doctor about different treatments for deformity (if already experiencing)
  • If you are already experiencing deformity in your joints, ask your doctor some treatments that can help with slowing the process. A few options are occupation therapy, surgery, or even a splinter. These option are some that the doctors might suggest to you that can help strengthen or fix the deformity.
  1. Stretch
  • When I say stretching is a vital part of this all. The process deformity is basically your joints weakening and “curling up” into a permanent position. stretching your joints daily can help lessen and elongate those joints.

Deformity is not something we want to experience when we get diagnosed with RA, but there is always things that can help relieve and slow the progression. Ultimately take care of yourself, keep moving and eat a balance healthy diet. Remember medicine does not cure RA it only treats symptoms and inflammation. Make sure to be aggressive with taking your medication, living a life full of movement because your joints will thank you in the end. You got this!

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