working out with chronic wrist problems

gothchiq Posts: 4,597 Member
I went to my doctor last week because my arthritic wrists are a disaster. There is also a ganglion cyst on the left one. Lifting hurts, yoga hurts, you name it, it hurts. The left one also swells up. I was using an ACE bandage to compress and support it but after any type of workout it was still horribly painful. The doctor gave me some anti-inflammatories, told me to use yoga blocks, to continue bandaging, to ice it, and all that good stuff. I was already doing most of those. I bought the yoga blocks. Problem is I just can't make any sort of progress like this. I haven't been able to lift in a long time and have lost strength. Very discouraging. Has anyone found a work-around for chronic issues like this? I feel like I have run out of things to try. I would rather not just give up. There has to be a way.


  • danhib
    danhib Posts: 290 Member
    Have you tried resistance bands. I was wondering as some have velcro parts and maybe you could strap them further up your forearm to take the strain from your wrists. Hope you find a work around, sorry couldn't be any more help
  • Tweaking_Time
    Tweaking_Time Posts: 733 Member
    Cycling - get fitted for a bike with handlebars that put the least amount of pressure on your wrists.

    No sure about this - but swimming - could also work because you can control the hand speed through the water to limit wrist pressure.

  • _piaffe
    _piaffe Posts: 163 Member
    I have chronic RA in my right wrist. I've got great meds (biologics) to manage the inflammation - the most important part of managing my disease.

    My wrist is in the process of fusing naturally, so my range of flexion is extremely limited. I have visibly less muscle mass on that arm, as I can't use it to lift kids, carry bags etc. However, provided I don't attempt to bend my wrist at all and keep is virtually "locked" and stable, I am able to strength train with free weights at home. That means I can't lift heavy. I max out at 25 lbs weights for chest presses, 15 lbs for bicep curls and triceps, and can handle holding a 32kg kettlebell. And again, everything requires a completely stable wrist and alignment for weight.

    I cannot do pushups or yoga at all (I do pilates, because unlike yoga, it does not involve wrist movement or body weight on the wrist). I can't weight bear at all.

    Personally, swimming is painful: the water resistance "bends" or destabilizes my wrist, which hurts.

    Good luck - it is really hard. Are you seeing a specialist? You may need better medication to manage - pain is definitely not good!
  • snowflake954
    snowflake954 Posts: 7,432 Member
    I have OA and have had wrist issues. I swim and do acquagym. Certain exercises would make my wrists hurt, and a bad strain would mean months of pain. I used an ACE bandage frequently, but mainly learned to live with it. I learned which movements would set it off and won't do those or do a modifyied version. I now use K-tape instead of ACE bandages and that works alot better. I can wear it in the water, and it's not as bulky. You have to study your pain and learn what sets it off, and what can lessen it. I try new things, especially getting new ideas in articles, or especially on MFP. Good luck.
  • TheHappyLoser
    TheHappyLoser Posts: 95 Member
    I have the same problem I have RA and my wrists and my hands hurt and are often swollen. I already have joint damage and don't want to make things worse.

    I am so heavily overweight and not really capable of working out too much. But I started my own exercise routine. Ever day I walk up and down the steps in our house. 120 steps up and 120 down to an imaginary 10 floor. Next weekend I will go out and buy me a treadmill -if I find a nice, used one.

    I think we can do anything and everything as long as we don't lift weights or put stress on our hands. I can't even open a water bottle anymore, so I am not going to make things worse.

    There is actually a lot to choose from:

    Bike Riding
    Belly dancing
    and even Yoga

    ...we just have to leave out the parts that require weight lifting or things like push ups, heavy balls or resistance bands.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,081 Member
    I have RA and feel your pain (rim shot).

    It definitely can be frustrating as I delta with that also for a few years.

    I don't use any meds and have lifted successfully for over three years since the disease stopped me from lifting.

    Hopefully thing will get better where you can find your thing :)
  • gothchiq
    gothchiq Posts: 4,597 Member
    Hm. So I should tape my wrists and lift light with more reps. Plus of course the yoga blocks. Dancing is good and I should do more, ditto hula hooping. I really would like to make my arms stronger but I guess there are just going to be some limitations there. Thanks everybody!
  • snowflake954
    snowflake954 Posts: 7,432 Member
    I take a course called "yoga flex" which is light yoga--lots of great stretches, which I like so much I've added to my stretching routine. I get up at 6:00 while everyone else is still asleep, go in the livingroom and do 45 mins of stretching 3x a week. As I mentioned above, I swim, do acquagym, lots of walking, and last year started using the gym. I was always afraid to do any lifting because of my wrists, but I started small and use the machines + light weights. I was so surprised that I could do so much, and am increasing reps and weight very slowly. My wrist issues, for now, are under control. I haven't had a flare up for a couple of years now--but I am careful. I do a 2 min plank and squats which have great effect on other areas. Never give up--there's a solution for every problem, or at least you can improve things.
  • Tweaking_Time
    Tweaking_Time Posts: 733 Member
    Oh yeah - can't forget Zumba!
  • Packerjohn
    Packerjohn Posts: 4,855 Member
    I had ro have thumb joint reconstruction on both hands. Got a lot of use out of the leg machines at the gym.
  • scottburger104
    scottburger104 Posts: 90 Member
    edited June 2016
    just curious, can you bear weight on your wrists if they are kept neutral? there is some good kettlebell stuff that would keep your wrists neutral and strengthen the wrist muscles to support the wrist better. You might also look into actual wrist wraps used by the powerlifting crowd.
  • icemaiden37
    icemaiden37 Posts: 238 Member
    just curious, can you bear weight on your wrists if they are kept neutral? there is some good kettlebell stuff that would keep your wrists neutral and strengthen the wrist muscles to support the wrist better. You might also look into actual wrist wraps used by the powerlifting crowd.

    That's a good question - I was going to suggest the same, as this is pretty much exactly what I do and it works for me (for reference, I have pain and limited mobility in my wrists due to abnormally short radius bones coupled with early onset OA after too many surgeries).
  • gothchiq
    gothchiq Posts: 4,597 Member
    The wrist wraps are a great idea. I'll order some. The wrist position is not *everything* but it makes a difference. Neutral is less painful for them than flexed back. I have been having a good bit of improvement with the use of the yoga blocks lately. I think I do need some compression also to keep that stupid ganglion cyst from inflating during workouts.
  • girl_inflames
    girl_inflames Posts: 375 Member
    I have a similar issue. I have an ongoing issue with my right wrist due to a work injury -- it's been two years now and I still get terrible tendonitis flare ups. I can't lift and I can't even open jars, it's so annoying! I use a wrist brace sometimes but it's really annoying since my right is my dominant hand and the brace basically immobilizes my wrist. I just try to push past the pain. I'd like to hear everyone's suggestions as well :smile:
  • gothchiq
    gothchiq Posts: 4,597 Member
    So far we've got wrist wraps, yoga blocks, ibuprofen, and ice as workable tactics.
  • gothchiq
    gothchiq Posts: 4,597 Member
    For the jars, first run under hot water then take the back of a butter knife and whack it into the edges of the lid in several places. This breaks the seal and makes it easy to twist open. you may also add one of those rubber lid grippers like they sell at the grocery store.
  • 1redcafe
    1redcafe Posts: 2 Member
    YouTube wrist mobility exercises. My husband has psoriasis and with it comes a significant amount of arthritis, but it has never stopped him from lifting, part of his training however focuses on mobility exercises which help him a great deal. Hopefully it helps you.
  • 1redcafe
    1redcafe Posts: 2 Member
    Also do you take fish oil? Do some research on high in takes of fish oil with respect to joint pain.
  • julie_broadhead
    julie_broadhead Posts: 178 Member
    I have Dequarvaine Tenosynovitis in both wrists. I wear the hard braces every time I lift. For me, I can't let the wrist bend back. I am still able to lift fairly heavy while using the hard braces. I have switched to using Dumbbells for shoulder presses because that allows me to keep a neutral wrist. I really like the idea of getting some yoga blocks:-) Do you use them for push ups and sun salutations? I tried using my powerlifting wraps and they didn't stabilize my wrist enough. I know that having a wrist condition that is painful and stops you from doing things is beyond frustrating. It was helpful for me to focus on what I can do instead of being bummed about what I can't do. You may have some luck with a soft brace like this one.
    Best of luck to you:-)
  • meritage4
    meritage4 Posts: 1,441 Member
    do planks with forearms on the ground. No weight on wrist but will still work upper arms.