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Thread: Any Advice for Dealing with Thumb Arthritis?

  1. #1

    Any Advice for Dealing with Thumb Arthritis?

    First, I need a woman's point of view on this topic! Second, I am posting this topic up for input for my wife (let's call her "Dawn"...because that is her name!). Late last fall, Dawn went for her final ride on her '07 R12R as her arthritis in her right thumb (now actually both thumbs), became so painful it was difficult to operate the throttle for even a short 30 minute ride. She says she is done riding but, I know down deep (and she knows down deep too) she really enjoys, no, make that loves, riding. Her R12R was at least kept in the family and sold to her brother.

    A little back ground on Dawn, she kept a riding log and I believe her total mileage was in the mid 70k range when she stopped last year and has been an Associate MOA member for about 20 years. She grew up around BMWs as in 1972 (Dawn was 18 at the time....so do the math!) her dad bought a new R75 in Germany, rode around Europe for three weeks then shipped the bike back to the US. Her mother and father then went back to Germany in 1974 and rented a BMW....so she has riding in her genes too....along with the arthritis! She started riding her own bike, a R65LS as a gift from me on Father's Day in 1991 (kinda backwards I know!). Then a F650GS, F700GS and then the R12R. Last fall we took the dual sports (she had a Honda CRF230L, me on a KLR) to Moab, UT and Ouray, CO for some great off road riding and she is just such an awesome rider, riding companion, wife, friend, grandma, etc.! So, with the arthritis, it became evident our riding would now become a two-up affair. So between selling the R12R and my GSA, a new RT was bought for the two of us. BUT....

    Besides the normal wrist rest, manual cruise controls, etc. as a temporary throttle relief, have any of you experienced this thumb pain and if so, how did you work around it? If at all. She knows thumb surgery can be done but, all indicators tell her it is a six month "out of commission" type surgery. Am I just being selfish wishing she could ride her own BMW again and just let it go or, encourage her (she can be stubborn) to have the surgery and get back to riding again? Ultimately, I too know it all boils down to a personal decision. Dawn has also had both hips replaced but, that doesn't seem to bother her when riding. We are going to be in SLC for the rally next month so, if any of you want to "encourage" her about the surgery, getting back on a bike, etc....that would be awesome. Just don't tell her you heard any of this from me!

    I have tried to make this all sound light hearted when in reality, it is not, from a physical and emotional perspective (the idea of getting older and all of the medical issues that can follow). So in all seriousness, any thoughts, advice, etc. will be truly appreciated. Thanks to all, have a great day and ride safe!

  2. #2
    Registered User zenwhipper's Avatar
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    I too struggle with thumb issues. But, for me its manageable for the time being. I was recommended to wear a brace.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...0?ie=UTF8&th=1

    M-2.jpg

    In the end I managed mine mostly with OTC anti-inflammatory meds.

    If you have tried all the easy steps like rest, ice, OTC meds, stronger Rx meds... then surgery may be the only thing that gets things better.

    Oh, one thing you can try is steroid injections into the joint. Some folks find remarkable longer term relief from this (sometimes a month or more).

    The other thing that could help is a bike with easier controls i.e. true cruise control, throttle by wire and hydraulic clutch and brakes.

    Us older riders will inevitably find one day, we hang it all up due to age, infirmary, and just an understanding that I'm not up for taking the risk anymore of riding.

    You're right, its a personal decision for her. I sounds like something you two very much enjoy doing together. Seems like if you face the issue together, encouraging each other, there should be a way to get back to the road.

    Scott
    I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.- Mark Twain
    Past bikes: 2001 Kawa ZR750S, 2002 VFR, 2006 V-Strom, 2008 FJR

  3. #3
    OldBMWMaster JDOCKERY132445's Avatar
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    Celebrex

    It has done wonders for me. I take 200 mg first thing in the day and have no pain. I was in constant pain for years and this was my wonder drug.
    Jerry Dockery
    309 N. 3rd. Ave.
    Kure Beach, NC 28449
    2009 R 1200 RT,1996 R1100RT, 1985 K100RS...too fast to believe.

  4. #4
    Thanks for both of you for the input! She does have a brace but, not as robust as the one you show....more of a spandex, copper lined, sleeve type thing. I will pass this information along to her. Again, many thanks!

  5. #5
    Registered User mlytle's Avatar
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    i have same problem. both hands. bad. surgery option too extreme. steroid injections are bad. temp relief, but weakens structure over time making the surgery solution less viable later.

    my fix...i started rowing. got a concept 2 machine for home. 20 min a day. the motion strengthens the grip from the rest of the hands. now i find i really don't use the thumbs on the bike in a way that bothers the arthritis. i use to get 30 min into a ride before pain. now i can go 5 hrs without any at all. not even on NSAIDS anymore.

    compensate for the lack of use of one part of the hand by strengthening the rest of the hand.

    plus...rowing is a great full body aerobic workout. back, legs, shoulders, arms.....also good for riding.
    Marshall
    92 K75s
    94 K75s
    09 K1300s

  6. #6

    Interesting Approach!

    Quote Originally Posted by mlytle View Post
    i have same problem. both hands. bad. surgery option too extreme. steroid injections are bad. temp relief, but weakens structure over time making the surgery solution less viable later.

    my fix...i started rowing. got a concept 2 machine for home. 20 min a day. the motion strengthens the grip from the rest of the hands. now i find i really don't use the thumbs on the bike in a way that bothers the arthritis. i use to get 30 min into a ride before pain. now i can go 5 hrs without any at all. not even on NSAIDS anymore.

    compensate for the lack of use of one part of the hand by strengthening the rest of the hand.

    plus...rowing is a great full body aerobic workout. back, legs, shoulders, arms.....also good for riding.
    Now there is an interesting approach and a healthy solution to boot! Dawn was like you, 30 minutes into a ride and pain. I'll pass this one on and thank you for the input!

  7. #7
    Registered User ExGMan's Avatar
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    My reply is really not gender-inclined. I'm a 72 male, have had a hip replacement, and have pain in my thumbs in varying amounts.

    I do like the rowing machine idea offered by mlytle. I too have a Concept 2, and also find that a strong hand can overcome some (but not all) deficiency with the thumb.

    As to riding techniques, I find that on my RT I use the cruise control a lot, so that when my hand is not gripping the throttle, it's loose or more commonly hanging down to increase the blood flow to my right hand. I had a CrampBuster on my throttle in my previous RT, but found for me it was of minor assistance. It's cheap enough (about $10) so she might see if that would help some.

    I imagine you've done some research. Here's a link to a comprehensive article with surgery being the last resort: http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/...-of-the-hand#2

    I'd imagine you will meet many people at the SLC rally who'll be of help. I'm sure she'll find the solution to getting back to riding.
    John Gamel
    2015 Ebony Metallic R1200RT
    BMW CCA 2006 - Present; BMW MOA 2009-Present
    Walt Kelly: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

  8. #8
    Registered User 186275's Avatar
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    I'm probably to late but I have thumb pain and was dreading giving up riding. I do hand exercises in the morning to get things moving and then more hand strength work. There are such clinics that are for hands maybe one near you?
    That said, when I ride, I use my thumbs only when necessary to relieve any pressure on them and keep my hands relaxed. I have always found the BMW hand grips smaller diameter harder on my hands. For me now, hand exercises work.
    Estee

  9. #9
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    Grip puppies help too.

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