Are autoimmune diseases the only group of diseases which include the distinction of “now you see em and now you don’t” symptoms? I mean normally I am a person who loves variety, until it comes to my autoimmune issues. The combination of seronegativity, transient, painful symptoms, and the often encountered physician’s (positive blood test only) diagnosing perspective can really make for a serious case of daily patient frustration.
But let’s throw in a crazy, clicking & popping left thumb for good measure. What’s that you ask? Yes..Sjodry has now developed (for the last 6 months) a very painful thumb condition. One could easily assume (as I did) that I had just added yet another symptom of aging to my collection (grey hair; random uninvited facial hair and veri-gross veins). Yet..my new Rheumy informed me that I have something called Trigger Thumb. That is..a painful locking of the digit on flexion and extension, caused by (among other things), inflammation. Yes..Sjogren’s is the gift that just keeps on giving.
And just like the “blindfolded pin the cure on the obscure illness” game we all play each day, my options are limited. So first, I opted for the very painful, cortisone shot right into my tendon at the base of my thumb. As my kids say, “OMG”. That shot and it’s painful aftermath for many days after would have been worth it, had it worked. But apparently I missed the ‘early’ window of opportunity that no one told me about (but my self-googling, after-the-fact, research). It seems that Trigger Thumb/Finger must be treated very early for the Cortisone to work…and even then..it’s only a temporary fix.
I mentally wrestled with trying to decide if I should bite the bullet (as the pain continues to get worse) and go see an Orthopedist? I found myself remembering the last choice I made to see the Podiatrist over those ugly, old woman bunions I developed on both sides of both feet (another autoimmune gift I received for free). That visit worked out with the Physician telling me that my only choice was to have surgery on both feet. NOT! Perhaps I was naive to think that a Surgeon might suggest a conservative approach that didn’t involve cutting. Well…my husband lovingly told me for years that my feet looked like little Hobbit feet..so now they are hobbit feet with a side of bunions. I will go back for treatment when I am forced to crawl back there.
But back to my clicking, popping thumb. I read that one treatment option is to isolate the joint with a brace or splint. Deciding that I could avoid a gigantic co-pay and order my own..I did my typical research online. Who knew there were such a variety of braces. But after having already ordered & received compression gloves a couple of months before, for my painful hands, I had only one criteria: the brace must look as natural as possible. While the compression gloves do bring some measure of comfort, I can’t get beyond the fact that the black, wrist-high gloves make me look like a cross between Michael Jackson and Madonna.
So I ordered the simplest looking, nude colored brace I could find. I did my best to choose one that does not scream, “ask me what happened to my wrist”.
Of course the third and most suggested option for treatment, is surgery. Almost every medical site I visited, painfully points to surgery as the treatment of choice for a long term fix. So I am now officially into avoidance mode. I will try acupuncture tomorrow & some daily thumb exercises and hope for the best. I suppose I am lucky that I did not follow the typical majority of women who are plagued with this condition in their middle finger. I would hate to go around sporting a finger-straightening brace on my middle finger…but then again with my feelings about Sjogrens and autoimmune disease…how ironic that would be.