Strength and Dexterity Issues with Psoriatic Arthritis: An Exercise in Frustration
Have you ever struggled with strength and dexterity as a result of your psoriatic arthritis? It is ridiculously frustrating.
Am I right? Let’s take a look at our problems with strength and dexterity and see if we can better understand why it is so darn frustrating.
Psoriatic arthritis and points of inflammation
There are 33 joints in the human foot alone. There are 360 joints in the whole human body. That’s at least 360 different possible points of pain in our joints alone.
This doesn’t count all of the tendons (approximately 4,000), ligaments (900), and organs (78) that psoriatic arthritis can also attack. Did you do the math yet? Yep, that’s over 5,000 possible points of inflammation. Well doesn't this seems depressing? Looking at the numbers alone, the odds are decidedly stacked against our favor when battling a disease that attacks joints, tendons, ligaments, and organs.
All in all, that is an extremely large battlefield. This is why I’m constantly surprised by those statistically tiny 27 joints in each of my hands and the frustration they bring.
The progression of strength and dexterity issues
When it comes down to it, I probably should feel lucky. It took me this long in my PsA journey to face those frustrating strength and dexterity issues. Like most of us with psoriatic arthritis, I struggle with pretty much all jars, lids, and caps. I can mostly try to ignore it by using a combination of my easy-peasy opener and a very thoughtful husband.
Perhaps we should all be better at channeling our inner Elsa and just be able to, “Let it go.” But I’m not convinced that’s the way to go either. Ignoring issues with strength and dexterity can be a sign of disease progression and may prompt your doctor to change your protocol. Not to mention the impact it can have on our mental health.
The pain of feeling helpless
But sadly, I can’t always ignore it. Sometimes I’m confronted by how much the strength and dexterity have changed in my hands. And this past summer, I ran face-first into the fact. Like a kindergartener in gym classes who just doesn’t see the wall right in front of them. Wham! Smacked in the face by something as “simple” as a pool filter.
When I couldn’t change the pool filter because of my strength and dexterity issues, I felt absolutely helpless. It seemed like a relatively simple task and one that I wouldn't have given a second thought to before. But no matter how hard I fought with it, I just couldn’t do it.
I walked away defeated, angry, frustrated, and (if I’m being honest) hiding tears from my children. Maybe I was already on edge that day anyway. Or perhaps I was facing the start of yet another flare. Either way, the strength and dexterity issues that I faced that day nearly ended me.
How do we treat our strength and dexterity issues?
I know. Like, I know that I should be able to do it. And I've accepted that I used to be able to do it. But now, nope. Not so much. I’ve lost so much strength and dexterity in my hands that sometimes I feel totally incapable of completing even the simplest tasks or anything worth any value around my house.
Perhaps our best option to fight strength and dexterity issues is speaking with your doctor about physical therapy. And I know. For many of us, physical therapy is expensive and not without significant limitations and copays. However, your doctor might be able to suggest a few exercises or prescribe 1-2 physical therapy sessions to give you a good foundation of exercises that can help you to do at home.
Have you found strength and dexterity to be a problem for you? Do you have any advice or experiences you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them, then perhaps at least I’d know I’m not all alone and losing my mind.
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?