stopping the progression of finger bending?

I was recently diagnosed with limited systemic scl and while my fingers have been swollen for almost a year, I just started having a finger starting to bend. It's not dramatic yet but it won't straighten like the rest and if I try to straighten it with my other hand somewhat painful.

Is there any physical therapy I can do to halt or slow this? My dr. has prescribed methotrexate and meloxicam, might either of these help?

Edited March 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm

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All we can really do is pray that God will be done. I believe this is the first process to see if the medicine works, because everybody's system is different. I start out on the same thing but didn't work for me, I pray God allow it to work for you. I ended up catching the lung disease (DLC 40%) and had to take 6 treatments of cyton infusion and now I take 2500 mg of cellcept a day and for the heartburn I take protonix now. So now I really watch what I eat and drink. Coffee, tea, chocolate, fatty meats, spices (and not just hot stuff) and stuff with citrus acid in it. I try to avoid cold weather for my hands. Hope and praying that it works for you.

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My hand started getting swollen in the morning, also about a year ago. My face started to freeze up a bit in October.

I started getting myofascial trigger point therapy in February, since I thought that whiplash had caused my swollen and sometimes cold hand. After the first treatment, my hand was consistently warm, much less swollen, and more normally flexible - for weeks. My swollen forearm became flexible again. The face freeze has disappeared completely.

I haven't been able to go for treatment for a month, since it is two hours by train and I have an intensely busy work schedule. But all of the sudden the top of my hand feels a bit 'humped' and my ring finger doesn't straighten out.

I started taking Amlodipine a week ago, but it is too early to notice any effect. I will go for for physio as soon as I can. I hope it helps, and I hope that you can get help too.

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avoid Raynauds (hand protection, keep your core body very warm, increase circulation through massage,drugs, exercise, biofeedback)
stretch and massage your hands several times a day
Any medication the slows down the progression of the disease should also help
Cellcept and prednisone seems helpful for me

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I do simple finger stretches, as recommended by my dr. I place my hands together, push out at the fingertips. This can be done while watching tv. Or I place my hands palm down on a table, then push up with the fingertips.
This has really helped me, as has the methotrexate.

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Author has diffuse scleroderma. She has exercises in book to maintain functionality with skin thickening. I think she worked with a physical therapist to develop these. Book is around $30.

Based on book, I think physical therapy can help.

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I worked with an OT who gave me exercises to do. She evaluated me in 60 days and my hand functions had improved. I continue to stretch them daily to try and keep them useful as long as possible. I am also on Cellcept and prednisone, which I think has helped me as well.
Good luck!

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I went to an OT for a while. She used an ultrasound wand to heat up the tissue on my fingers. The would get better during the session but would go right back to where they were the next time I saw her. She eventually gave up.

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My hands were very fibrosed and I could not make a fist with the right hand. My fingers were very swollen in both hands. That was in 5/09. I started antibiotic protocol in 11/09 and today I can make a fist and no longer have fibrosed skin. The PIP joints are still mildly edematous. I have been advised that my hands will slowly continue to improve, but they take longer as the vasculature is smaller and this is a connective tissue disease.

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Yes, they can sometimes improve on their own. Five years ago, I was embarrassed to point at anything because my index fingers were bent like claws. Now, they're nearly straight again. I haven't been on any sort of therapy for this, but I do try to stretch my hands a bit a few times throughout the day.

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I do occupational therapy and some therapist specialize in hand therapy. I would recommend finding a hand therapist or occupational therapist that is either hand certified or is very knowledgeable with the hand. I know only the generics about the hand. Hand therapist learn every muscle, tendons, ligament, vessels, etc. Once I get a handle on some of my medical bills I want to go back to school and get certified.

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Thanks everyone! I will definitely look into some sort of OT or physical therapy. I really appreciate everyone's info!

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physical therapy will help you alot, i could barely write or open jars etc...after the therapy my hands were much better. that was about ten yrs ago and i've never had to go back since. the execercises they give you will help that bending problem, may not cure it but help it from getting worse too soon. g-luck, eileen

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I saw an OT hand therapist and also slept in braces to keep my fingers stretched during that critical time when they were trying to curve. They aren't perfect, but so much better than so many that I know with this disease.

Good luck.


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