RA Elbows Bent - What did I do?: When I went for my... - NRAS

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RA Elbows Bent - What did I do?


When I went for my blood tests, I used to tell the doctors that my hands were very painful and I could not make them straight. One of them had been very kind and let me put my hand on his lap.

I was working hard to find way to make my hands straight again. I followed the instruction of the physiotherapist closely to use the pulley consistently. I could feel my hands were able to go higher and I could make them quite straight slowly. I continue the exercise with hope.

I moved on with monkey bar to make use of my body weight to pull my hands up and straighten them. I adjusted the monkey bar height to the level I could reach with my foot on the floor. I slowly squat down to the level I could tolerate the pain. Many months of painful exercise, I did it and my hands could/can go straight up without any problem anymore.

23 Replies

I was just released from vestibular rehab by my PT. He gave me many exercises to work up to in the future. I have been in rehab since January 2016 for frozen shoulder, elbow bursitis and vestibular (due to multiple falls). So glad to be released but I know that it is a daily commitment! I'm so happy for your improvement and remission 🙂 D🏃🏽‍♀️

Amy_Lee in reply to DRunnerchick

To continue to do the exercises at home is the key to recover. I DIY all the things that I learned from the physio center. Only once a week at the physio center hence must do it at home to ensure result, which I did.

I believe you will have your normal life back very soon if you do the exercise daily.

Eiram50 in reply to Amy_Lee

Well done Amy lee, that's really good news. There's no doubt, physio and being diligent re exercises, helps massively,

However, i feel I must disagree when you suggest to do these exercises every day then things return to normal.

I too have been in physio since diagnosis (2014) and afraid they have told me the damage to my hands and fingers will never be rectified . I continue with exercises to try to keep what flexibility is left but there will never be a return to normal?

BUT I have to say , it is great to hear of your progress and I enjoy your positivity- keep going!


Amy_Lee in reply to Eiram50

Agree with you on this. If the joints have already been damaged, they are irreversible indeed. Those who read the post will know if they can follow. If they have similar condition, being treated early and the joints are still in good order, then they will see the result after months of trying similar exercise. It is really too sad to know that the joints have been damaged.

Hi, It's great that you have found an exercise that is working for you, it's uplifting but...

There is no amount of excerise in the whole that would straighten my elbows or rectify the damage in my finger joints.

But I swim, ride a bike and walk, I wouldn't be able to do the rope exercises or hold my body weight on a monkey bar, lol I can't hold a carrier bag of shopping.

But finding an exercise that keeps our minds body and soul engaged is crucial to keeping us moving and healthy. It's tough on some days but always be kind to yourself and have a day off every now and then, even Olympians take a day off.

Keep up the good work, it's working for you and that's what we all need to find, an activity that keeps us moving.

Long my your limbs support and hold you!

Take care


"But finding an exercise that keeps our minds body and soul engaged is crucial to keeping us moving and healthy". For me it's kayaking and anti-gravity yoga!

The freedom of being on the water and the sense of grace and flight for the anti-gravity work. I look forward to them both and I feel fabulous when doing them no matter how I felt beforehand. :)

That sounds like great fun, I hadn't thought of kayaking I'm sure there's a group near me. Wet bum here I come lol. (May get a wetsuit)!

Kayaking or in a canoe - both are hugely enjoyable and there are times when one style of paddle or the other is better suited to your hands/arms/elbows/shoulders etc. - there are some nicely supportive seats in some canoes. :)

Amy_Lee in reply to medieval-ali

Dear Alison,

I did those exercise at the early stage when my hands were so painful and I could not lift them up and my elbows were bent. I do not need to engage with such exercises now. I do yoga and Tai-Chi every morning since I was able to get on with yoga.

Only you will know what kind of exercises suit you best. As long as you move your joints, that will be the way to go.

medieval-ali in reply to Amy_Lee

I'd like to do yoga, but am a little worried that the elbows, wrist and feet couldn't with stand the pressure, are the exercises geared to each individual and their ability? I'd feel embarasssed if I couldn't keep up or do the moves


I can't speak for all yoga experiences but I've been amazingly fortunate in that the teachers I've had always offer options or modifications to the exercise for people. At the start of every class, they ask people to let them know of any injuries or difficulties so that they can devise an option.

I had a fractured ankle earlier this year and the teachers gave options so that I could work around it.

Yes - there are yoga classes where people are eye-waveringly competitive - and it's probably best to give those a miss. But others are just the ticket. And, we all started somewhere - yoga practice is emphatically never supposed to be about keeping up or which moves you can do at present.

Amy_Lee in reply to medieval-ali


Glad that you ask. Before I was sick, I used to go for yoga classes few times a week. After I was sick, I could not do any yoga posts. Then I started other simple exercise to ensure my movement was back to normal.

When I got stronger, I did test if I could get back to yoga. Very sad to say that I could not. Disappointed but I believed I would be able to do that again.

I did not go to yoga class any more. Because I was not sure what I could do and what I could not. So I downloaded from the internet, but I already knew a lot of the posts, I tested different posts regularly. Then, slowly I got on to more and more and I am perfectly okay with all the basic posts without any problem. Of course, I am not talking about the professional posts into the advance stage. Just the beginner level can keep us health already.

To do it at home, safe me a lot of time in traveling. I can do more than traveling around.

medieval-ali Amy_Lee The availability of anti-gravity yoga varies enormously from one area to another but one of the reasons it can be very helpful for people with any form of MSK issue is because it involves working in or with a generously-sized hammock.

For many of the positions, you have the option of being supported by the hammock and it allows you to experiment with how much of your own weight you can support - or it offers a means of balance in other positions (there are times when my sense of balance is appalling so this is tremendously helpful for the odd half-moon or the Warrior 3).

Yes, there are anti-gravity classes that emphasise the cross-over with circus but the anti-gravity yoga classes emphasise the yoga tradition and are based around those exercises.

Amy_Lee in reply to ITYFIALMCTT


I have not heard of the anti-gravity yoga. I am not sure if we have that here? Need to find out then. :)

The important thing is to do the kind of exercises that your body can handle and you find them helpful and beneficial to you.

Thanks for this, i have never heard of it. I will defo look into classes near me.

Caza in reply to medieval-ali

I took up yoga about 18 months ago thinking I'd never be able to do it but I do & I love it. Yes it's hard yes I have to take it easy for the rest of the day yes I ache the next day. The instructor is brilliant & tells us to listen to our bodies & to stop if it hurts. She caters for all levels in one class. & boy do I sleep better for it. I have far more energy & way more flexible than I was before. Give it a go.

Amy_Lee in reply to Caza

Dear Caza,

I am glad to know that. When I started yoga back at home, I tested every week to see if I could do it again. I only did what I was able to. I started from just one post each time that I could manage. Slowly I could do more and more.

I'm so delighted that this is working for you! I do a variation of your bodyweight monkey bar exercise with a pull-up bar on the door :)

I've not seen that leg sling arrangement for the rope before tho' I do something similar with a TRX.

I do bits and pieces of my routine during the day as (of course) morning stiffness means that I can't get through as much mobility or strength work as I'd like before I need to start my commute.

It still raises eyebrows when fellow commuters see me use resistance bands on my fingers/hands, on the train; my colleagues walk into my lab and see me using my TRX (I keep one at work as well at home).; or when I'm doing some Callanetics in the staff tea area while waiting for the kettle to boil. However, I can't manage the amount of exercises that I need to do otherwise so I'm past the point of being embarrassed tho' I'm tired of the asinine 'humourous remarks'.

Amy_Lee in reply to ITYFIALMCTT


Great to know that. Yes, we have to accept ourselves. Do what is good for you. I used thera bands too at the very early stage to build my strength. When I wheel my hands in the play-ground, everybody looked at me in question. I could just smile. Once a young man walked over and asked if I just liked to do that? I smiled and said "that is what I can do at the moment." He was very shocked and moved away. :)

Monkey bar exercise really put my elbows straight back and my hands straight up again.


I can't be the only one wondering about the hand on the lap.....can I?

Amy_Lee in reply to Hidden

Hahaha, the young doctor was very good. He was on duty that day to take blood for patients from all departments. When I told him that I was a RA patient and my hand could not straight and I could hardly put my hand on the table, he said it was okay if I support my hand on his lap. In that way I needed not to put my hand on the table. My fist was supported on his lab, that was all about it. Many patients were in the same room and many doctors on duty at the same time, so nothing not proper was happening. :)

Hidden in reply to Amy_Lee

I'm chuffed with your cheerfulness! Keep smiling kid

Amy_Lee in reply to Hidden

I always try to keep a happy life every day though life is tough. :)

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