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Flying with Arthritis

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Old 10-12-2013, 07:15 AM
  #1
JH313
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Default Flying with Arthritis

Hello all,
A little background. In May of this year, I was diagnosed with Arthritis. This came as a shock to me being only 17. Unfortunately, this has meant that I have been unable to fly pretty much this entire year. While I am not much better, I just started getting back to flying the sim, I notice pain and stiffness within a few minutes from my thumb. Is there anything others have been doing to help alleviate/prevent this pain? I use a DX7s, has anyone noticed a different Tx better? What about aftermarket transmitter sticks? I am willing to try just about anything in order to not lose this hobby.
Thank you for any advice.
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Old 10-12-2013, 07:56 AM
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I think your only choice may be RA medication, assume it's RA due to your young age. I hope someone has a better suggestion for you but tell your doctor how important this hobby is to you and ask for any help they might be able to offer you.
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Old 10-12-2013, 07:58 AM
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I visit a doctor, he is working on medication. Is that my only hope?
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Old 10-12-2013, 08:26 AM
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Have you been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis or Osteo Arthritis? There are a lot of new medications for RA that can really help. For Osteo Arthritis plain old Asprin or Ibuprofin are the drugs of choice but you really need to work with your doctor. Tell him or her how much you enjoy the hobby. Believe me they understand the importance of doing something you enjoy and the powerful effect it can have on your well being. I know they will do everything they can to try and help you.

One thing you might try is to lengthen the sticks on your transmitter using extensions like these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Thumb-Stick-...item416c43b589
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:50 AM
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Are both hands affected ? Cause if it's only your right , maybe a custom left handed transmitter ? I have seen in the past where special TXes have been made for folks with varying degrees of physical challenge so maybe something along those lines could be of benefit here ?
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Old 10-12-2013, 11:16 AM
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It is actually in both hands, although I notice it the most in my left. Out of curiosity, why would you recommend longer sticks? Also, we are not sure exactly what type of Arthritis it is, and I have been through 5 different medications so far trying to find one that works, very frustrating.
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Old 10-12-2013, 11:33 AM
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JH313,
I also have arthritis, osteo type with some RA thrown in for the past 30 years. I continue to build/fly and manage it with some powerful NSAIDs-Celebrex, etc. For the wrists/hands, I use a transmitter tray which totally supports the weight of the tranny. Without a tray I feel like throwing the tranmitter away after only a few minutes of holding it. For building I use a high end wrist brace especially for repetitive motions, like sanding. Painting with a brush is out of the question but I have no trouble with a airbrush or rattle can paint. Also, been building /assembling ARFs, instead of plans or scratch building.
Flexing or using your joints is helpful but don't overdo it. Finally, find a good rheumatoligist that can prescribe medications and recommend excerises to keep you moving and enjoying this great hobby. Good luck in all this.

Art ARRO.
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Old 10-12-2013, 11:56 AM
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Using a tray IOT support the weight of the Tx on your shoulders/neck rather than hands is a great modification. Using longer sticks gives you the ability to adjust your position both to be able to change position as well as achieve one you find most comfortable. I would consider wrapping the transmitter sticks with medical foam tape both to increase the diameter and to provide some degree of cushion requiring less flexion of the involved joints as well as less grip pressure. You would have to determine the right diameter by trial and error on the basis of what reduced pain and gave you the most comfortable "feel". They make oversized softer golf grips for arthritic players for the same reason. If you are using a "thumb" rather than "pincer" grip, might want to change as the latter transfers more motion to the wrist rather than finger joints (I am making an assumption as you did not actually specify which joints were involved but RA usually hits the fingers prior to the wrists). Also keep your hands warm during the activity, consider gloves with a good "feel" probably golf gloves would suit best. Cold/ice does have a role after activity both for RA or other inflammatory arthropathies (which is what I assume you have) and OA both to dull pain and reduce inflammation but will cause significant stiffness during activity regardless of the underlying cause. Good luck
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Old 10-12-2013, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JH313 View Post
It is actually in both hands, although I notice it the most in my left. Out of curiosity, why would you recommend longer sticks? Also, we are not sure exactly what type of Arthritis it is, and I have been through 5 different medications so far trying to find one that works, very frustrating.
I don't know why Toppers was suggesting longer sticks , maybe he thought they would help with leverage ? Sorry to hear it's both hands and I hope your Doctor comes up with something soon .
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Old 10-12-2013, 01:53 PM
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Hi JH,

First off, very sorry to hear of your diagnosis and I certainly hope you can find a solution to manage the disease. I was diagnosed with RA when I was 23 years old (I'm 41 now) and mine started in my left wrist. I thought I had carpel tunnel syndrome when it first started. Most of the time RA develops symettrically, ie, both right and left joints are effected. Thus it was a bit odd that it started in only one of my wrists. Go figure. At any rate, I was involved in skeet shooting at the time and quickly discovered there was no way I was going to be able to continue that hobby with the RA in my wrist. I was pretty bummed but decided to sell my shotgun and other skeet equipment. I now wish I had kept it all! The RA has done some damage and I no longer have full range of motion in my wrists but, the good news, I don't have a lot of pain in them any more either! So while flying may be problematic for you now there is a good chance that the pain will not be as intense indefinitely. The disease itself seems to have ebbs and flows and, of course, your body is a pretty magnificent machine which has ways of learning to cope. Not to mention that the doctors too may be able to find a treatment regimen for you that can make a huge difference. Last, but certainly not least, be sure to get mutliple doctor's opinions. There are several other conditions that are commonly mis-diagnosed as arthritis which are, in fact, imminently more treatable than arthritis is. Keep your chin up and best of luck!
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Old 10-12-2013, 01:59 PM
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If we still had the old RCU's post rating system , I'd give Chad's post 5 stars !
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Old 10-12-2013, 02:25 PM
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I know this is not a medical thread but I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis two years ago. I was 44. Came totally out of the blue. It hurts. First recommendation see a rheumatologist. If your are still going to your primary care doc move on fast. You need an expert. Second there are some great meds out there, don't settle for generic meds only, get on a new biological med. if your rheum won't give you a biological med get a new rheum. After you get on some good meds exercise and stretch out the effected areas routinely and the pain will go away, at least it has for me. Good luck.
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Old 10-12-2013, 02:32 PM
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I know at your age that sucks. Believe me some day you will think I was young at 44 to get it. If it is RA just know there are meds out there to treat it and they do a great job. The days of knuckled hands are over. You will fly rc.
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Old 10-12-2013, 02:48 PM
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Try acupuncture!
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Old 10-12-2013, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
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Try acupuncture!
I have heard of folks having success with acupuncture , but no one I know has ever done it . I wonder if it's a covered treatment by the OP's health insurance ?
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Old 10-12-2013, 03:55 PM
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JH313
I tell you it is not what a person wants, I am 76 and found that what helps me is Alieve, and 500 mg Magnesium tablets. None prescription and could be worth a try. My hand get where they are plum out of shape I was given these for muscle cramps and it works for me. It won't hurt to try, not bad price ether. The other med. I take is Naproxen 500 by prescription.
Larry K
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Old 10-12-2013, 04:15 PM
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JH313 I recommend you and your parents do your home work. The only person who will take the best care of you is you and your family. IF YOU HAVE RA the sooner you get on a good RA drug the better. Hopefully your doctor gets this done soon. It hurts and becomes stiff because that is a result of your immune system attacking your cartilage in your hand. Sure anti inflammatories help you feel better. That's because as your immune system attacks your joints it causes inflammation and that causes pain. If left untreated it can do un repairable harm. Motrin etc will only mask the underlying problem. OA OSTEO arthritis is different and something most of us will get with aging. This is not a condition where the body is attacking itself and anti inflammatories are a good option then. I am not telling you this to cause you concern. I want you to be as knowledgeable and proactive as possible.
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Old 10-12-2013, 04:33 PM
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I just wanted to say think you for all of the inspiration. I am going to a Rheumatologist, actually the top one in the world (perk of living near NYC), and am on an antiinflamatory. If this one doesn't work, I go to a biological next, Embrel. Unfortunately, I have an immunodeficiency as well, and the biologics actually hurt the immune system. So that has been why we have waited off this long. Larry, I have actually tried Naproxen, and it didn't work for me.
Thanks again!
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Old 10-12-2013, 05:07 PM
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Jh313. You are on the right track. Hang in there and it will work out. I am on Humara which is a competitor med to embrel in the same class. When I started on it the relief was very fast. Before that I could not flip my props or pick up a pot of coffee. Now I don't even notice it anymore. I have been on it for about a year. Good luck.
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Old 10-12-2013, 06:36 PM
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I've been dealing with progressive and degenerative osteoarthritis for many years and yes, it really curtails what you can do at times. My back is the worst but it's affecting my hands more and more. One thing I've found that works for me is Icy Hot rub. Smelly, but does help the pain. I do take some pretty strong meds as well, etodolac (generic Lodine) for inflammation and Vicodin for pain. Unfortunately the etodolac is about to go away because my doctor doesn't want me taking high dose NSAIDs any more because of the risk of liver damage.

The transmitter tray suggestion is a good one. Do you use just your thumb on the sticks or the pinch technique? If just your thumbs change to thumb and forefinger. Less stress on both digits and finer control to boot. It's something I'm considering as I'm losing some of my fine control abilities using just my thumbs.
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Old 10-13-2013, 01:44 AM
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Just sitting here cerebral typhooning (brain storming), how about J-B welding some ping pong balls to your gimble sticks. *This would give your more leverage along with having a larger diameter control surface to work with.

Jeff
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Old 10-13-2013, 05:01 AM
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Hay jh313

Hang in there and find hand stretches exercises that help they may hurt at frist (not poping yout knuckles) just silple hand stretch, as I have RA & OA and I take med's, and I am an old geezer at 82, and delling with it for about 50 years.. but I would live the med's up to your doc, even the none perciption one, at least till you have tried a few, and the worst is old Arther may show in other joints, so be smart with it stay as active as you can.

I can tell you a TRX tray will help but I would recomend the type that hang from your sholders, Note the tops of your sticks are threaded, so if the diameter of the stick is the problem you can have some knobs made that will fit your fingers and just add them to the existing stick threads.

Cheers Bob T
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Old 10-13-2013, 06:19 AM
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People with disabilities tend to research and find other ways to do the things they enjoy doing. For you, a tray would seem to be mandatory. So starting with that, continue to experiment with tray height, tilt, TX position, braces and hand position. When you've fine tuned that, think about the length of the sticks. They are adjustable for a reason. If the vertical sticks are still too uncomfortable, think about an angled or possibly a larger, rounded replacement for the stick knobs. Yes - that would mean a little machine work but for starters, they could be made out of wood for trial. Check your local hardware stores for various shapes and sizes of plastic knobs. The key here is not to wait for a solution to come to you. Design the solution and then at your young age, think about marketing that solution to the hobby because you are not the only one dealing with this issue. While you are doing that, also think about folks that have hand tremors which affects us old duffers. There is an 80 year old in our club that loves to fly but has trouble handling the sticks because of the tremors. Your insurance may not cover a visit with a person that deals with industrial rehab but it may be worth a try. These folks work with people who are returning to work after an injury and need special tools or equipment to perform their jobs. A physical therapist at your medical center may have suggestions as to where you can go to seek ideas as well. Good luck and keep flying as best you can under the circumstances. This advice comes from a now agiing polio survivor. Don't hear much about that disease anymore huh (except Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Nigera, to name a few).
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Old 10-13-2013, 06:57 AM
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I would Use a tray with your current radio, however the spektrum dx10t tray radio would be a perfect fit for you because the sticks are designed to have a comfy feel on your fingers.
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Old 10-13-2013, 07:12 AM
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Hypnosis is not a cure but it will mask the symptoms. OTC medications and those prescribed by physicians all come with side effects.
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