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Raised veins, swollen red knuckles and bruised looking swellings?

Hi All,

Just back from a week down in London for a funeral. It was a truly mad trip but won't begin to describe it until my hands are feeling a bit better.

Came off Prednisolone last Monday and mostly flare has stayed away with some help from lashings of ibuprofen - except for elbows, wrists, knuckles and fingers which are just hellish. Couldn't get boots on couldnt get seatbelt on plane on couldn't hold a book couldn't zip up my handbag or wallet - or put charger in my mobile phone (consequently my wallet dropped out and I left it on the plane had to beg a mechanic to go up and find it for me?!)

What I wanted to ask is do others find that when middle finger joints swell they go dark green, blue, purple like bruises with red on top? Mine look like they are dirty or bruised just now as well as swollen and pink around the outer skin and hot? Also my veins on my hands have come up and one on the right palm-side under thumb joint and at top of wrist is raised up like a large dark lentil is stuck under the skin?

I shouldn't moan about the pain as it's part of the course - but it's making me feel nauseous - especially wrists which have swollen on the outside wrist bones. I felt like this all over before I went on the pred - why am i finding this so hard?

I've got one of those infected cuticles on side of little finger on right hand and because of being in transit in dirty city it's blown up all red and nasty looking but I was completely unaware of it until just now. It's a drop in ocean compared to the swollen bruised and stiff little finger on my left hand or the finger next to it. But OH looked at it when I got home and said "ouch you need to get some TCP and a plaster on that or it'll be antibiotics for you?"

Fingers so crazy stiff I couldn't even use sign language or finger spelling to my deaf sisters properly when I stayed with them this week! TT

16 Replies

Sending you my love,don't have an answer for you i'm afraid, I'm still on steroids and it doesn't look like i will be coming off them anytime soon,i don't have any effect with mxt,except to say my hubby notices a difference just before my jab is due and days after.xx


I'll be in touch later, we've grandson staying for a few days. Can recommend tin tin. I'm so sorry about this it sounds horrible and painful and must stop you working. But it's really worth looking after yourself and having a good rest

Xx c


Thanks Sylvi and Cathie - should have waited until today to put this question up because it reads more like a blog - which i hadn't intended at all.

What I wanted to know from more experienced and diagnosed RA sufferers is do you get dark bruise effects on your swollen joints or is it normally just red when inflamed? I realise it will depend a lot on skin type (i'm very fair skinned) but just wondered. My hands look really ugly to me - like i've been in a punch up?!

Also it's not strictly symmetrical as with RA - because most affected are my right forefinger (this is taking me so long to write!) and my left littlun. Both are permanently stiff,swollen and purple in the middle joint and knuckles below now -I hate seeing my hands looking like this. Am hoping dark bruise effect will die down sometime soon as normal bruises do? And the veins are so raised it's weird and that looks hideous too!

I know I shouldn't moan - the look of things is nothing compared to the pain and clumsiness of course. But it's about self esteem - just as hair loss is for some (I've had that in eczema days too!) - seems to me anyway? My hands used to be covered in eczema and it's been such a treat over past few years not having to hide them - and now this! TT


PS and yes thanks for asking Cathie - work is going to have to be on MLit reading for a few days 'til hand fiare recedes because there's no way I can stitch artwork with my right hand like this - unless I want hands to look like pickled pumpkins for rheumy on Thursday .... hmmm tempting Oh forgot to add I hope visit with grandson goes brilliantly and isn't too exhausting for you.

Also to Sylvi - maybe worth mentioning that my GP prescribed x3 ibuprofen 400mgs to be taken at meal times for the past 2 months and then stop once on Pred - and as I stepped off Pred to start this dose of ibuprofen again. So if you're not already doing this might be worth a try to see if you can wean more easily?


Hello Tilda,

I have only recently been diagnosed with RA, so am no expert! (I am still learning so much), but, I too have this dark purple, blue colouring on my hand joints. It is in my right hand over the knuckles and on my middle finger joints. It too looks as though I have been in a punch up. The way you describe it you could actually be describing my hand!. I had an appointment with my Rheumy nurse on friday and when checking the temperature of my knuckles she seemed quite shocked by the heat coming from them. " are your hands always this hot" she asked, to which I replied "yes", her reply was "wow!!"

My veins also seem to be much more prominent now especially over my swollen and purple joints!! Like you I am also very fair skinned so not sure if it is just our skin type.

The one thing I am really upset with, and this pales into insignificance compared to what some people have to deal with, is that my ring finger on my right hand is so swollen that I have had to remove a ring. Now, this ring is not an expensive ring, it is only made of silver but my husband bought it for me when on holiday in Greece many years ago, when our boys were very little. He saved so hard to buy it and it is so sentimental to me, from the day he gave it to me I have never removed it. I am ever hopeful that I will be able to place it back on my finger at some time in the future :)

Hope you have a good day Tilda




Thanks Rainie that does really help as not yet diagnosed but hopefully will get some certainty on Thursday at last - it's been almost a year now since it all kicked off so that's a year of not being on any medication apart from steroids and over the counter pain meds.

Strangely my wedding ring finger (left index) is the only finger I have that hasn't swollen up for a long while. I get scared that it will so I keep taking rings off and then putting them on in morning - my watch is too tight now for either wrist and couldn't put rings on any other fingers so fingers gently trying to cross that this remains the case as I love my wedding and engagement rings they are antique not valuable but very sentimental and pretty on otherwise hideous looking hands! Tilda xx


Hi TT, Allow me to suggest, very strongly, that you get an antibiotic for the infected finger. When we have any kind of infection, it can become systemic because we don't have enough Immune system to fight it as a normal person would. If it is that red and swollen, it needs to be seen.

I say this because in Aug,2004, I developed Sepsis, or Septicemia (Blood infection) from having an infected insect bite on the back of my neck. Couldn't see it, knew it hurt, kept putting antibiotic ointment on it, but I got tremendously sick, developed an abscess on my right kidney from the blood infection, was in Intensive care for 10 days. Had 5 kinds of IV antibiotics, which I had to contiue daily as an out-patient after they released me. Not anything for us to mess around with. Best to be preventive!! All the best, Hope and pray you get answers and relief soon. Loret


It is really kind of you to be so concerned Loret. My infected cuticle finger is now on the mend - I dunked it in TCP as soon as I was home and bandaged it up and it's gone right down now - unlike the other arthritic ones that look increasingly sausage like.

Poor you how awful re scepticaemia. My Gran died of it when my dad was ten and she pricked herself with a darning needle - so I've grown up very aware of this awful disease. I knew two people who died of it as a secondary complication of infection so you really did have a close shave thank goodness you are okay. Also coincidentally know of a rheumatologist (bro-in-law of a friend) who ended up in intensive care with it too only a few weeks ago and he only just pulled through so I believe it's something anyone can get - fortunately with his medical knowledge he knew how to identify his symptoms as needing urgent treatment just in time.

Take care - and yes if my infection had continued I would have gone to GP today. Many thanks,

TildaT x


Hi Tilda, sorry to hear that hands didn't co-operate during your week down south. I've got one finger that goes a funny bruised colour when it acts up, the rest are just hot, pink sausages. As yes my veins are raised, loopy & lumpy. When I was a kid I used to love tracing my Grannies raised veins on her hands and wrists, as I thought they were elegant and I longed to be grown-up enough not to have pudgy baby hands. Now I've got a delta of veins myself I'm not so sure.

Have you tried hot & cold water dips for your hands - or having them between two wheat pillows? Sometimes I find that my hands needs more soothing than can be got from pain meds, and they appreciate the extra cosseting.

Fingers x'd for Thur!


Thanks HH - I will try hot water in a moment to limber and soothe them as there's always plenty of washing up and hand washing to be done here. My physio, who I saw once, said rub olive oil into them and put them in surgical gloves and then play about with them in hot water so they get an oiling but I never seem to have time to have tried this out yet. Because I'm always using them to stitch (embroidery artwork) I don't want them too oily or the residue will stain the work - but I like the oiling suggestion in theory!

That's good to know about not being alone with raised veins though (I remember doing same thing with my Gran!). My bruised looking fingers vary and are not all affected by any means but the right forefinger (most useful as I'm right handed) is now permanently twice as big as its counterpart on the other hand and never bends beyond slightly. My knuckles on both sides are really sore today which makes hand writing impossible so glad we have technology now!

But hey ho very conscious that this is all i have to moan about these days - hands, wrists and fingers only - so shoulders and lower half all good again for which I'm very thankful (although if they would just decide to play up a bit on Thursday it would be great?) but if running for 20 minutes through the City for this funeral (late arrival!) didn't bring on a flare in my knees and ankles then I think probably nothing will? This all kicked off in my knees and feet a year ago so I know what it's like and really can't find it in me to bemoan them being healthy once more can I?! TT xx


Hi Tilda,

I'm just back from seeing the Rheumy Doctor and Physiotherapist ( I have had a steroid injection in my trigger thumb tendon, not too bad pain wise whilst they were doing it but still made hubby hold my hand!!). Anyway, whilst I was there I thought " I know, I'm going to ask about the, purplish, blue colouring on knuckles and finger joints". The Doc didn't go too much into the mechanics of it ( he wanted to go into the mechanics of the triggering thumb and fingers) but he did say that it is really down to the swelling of the joints and sometimes it will be red and sometimes the dark colouring that we have and that, hopefully, once the swelling goes down with treatment, then the colouring will diminish. So, ever hopeful, we may once again, in the not too distant future, have pretty hands and not look like we go around getting into punch-ups all the time :)

Hope this helps in some small way,

Have a good day




Thanks Rainie - glad you asked although hope it didn't take up much of this valuable appointment time?!

My hubby says I'm grumpy on short fuse since getting home - I don't feel I'm being like that but having hands being so uncooperative and being so preoccupied by the coming Thursday's 2nd ever rheumy apt is probably putting me in a short fuse - I can't seem to concentrate on anything at all! So it's cheering to look foward to a day where hands get back to normal again - whatever normal is now! hope the treatment on your trigger thumbs work well (can't bring my self to say fingers crossed - ouch?!)

TildaT x


Hi TildaT

One of the frustrations with RA is that it can vary so much, and the consultant and nurse may only happen to see you on your good days, so if you are concerned I would suggest taking a photo of your hand/hands as they are when swollen and bruised-looking, and asking them about it at your next appointment. It can be a lot easier than describing it to them. I don't have RA, but did this when I got a badly bruised foot from a sport injury and it didn't feel right afterwards. It really helped the doctor to understand what I was talking about and to explain to me what had happened to my poor foot!

I hope you feel better soon. The others on here will be able to share with you tips on dealing with a flare up, but certainly resting swollen, tender joints can help (hard when it's your hands!) and some people find a cold or hot pack help offer some relief.


Helpline & Information Coordinator


My joints are always red in my hands, but they rarely swell. When it is hot out, my hand/wrist scars turn bright red, and when I'm cold, they turn bright purple.

Also, prednisone thins your skin, so I can see all of the blood vessels inside of my hands.


Thank-you Vicky and Tinwoman. I succumbed to pain meds earlier this p.m and the max dose of ibuprofen has certainly helped take edge off this time. I find heat helps and cold is horrible?

Yes I'm aware of the thinning skin because I've used steroid creams for most of my life with chronic eczema. This is partly why I'm so anxious to get a diagnosis because i don't want to end up on them more than I have to. My GP just really wants me on aggressive meds while it's still relatively early. But I'm torn as don't want them much having read all the tales re MTX and nausea, hair loss etc. Do people here on HU think I should tell him about my fears re allergies and having had allopecia three times in my life? I don't want to put him off treating me but I'm not entirely sure why he said MTX would be first line medication for me if RA is diagnosed? I had bad side effects to Sulpha back in June so that's out.

I have taken photos and built them into a pain diary to give the rheumy on Thursday. Last time he didn't seem very interested in my written descriptions - more precoccupied with visible signs and blood results. I suppose that's fair enough and my GP said that the photos do clearly reveal visible swelling on synovial joints so that reassures me a bit.

Do you think I should just show him photos on their own or is it good to have the very factual diary from the past six weeks with images? So nervous about this - it's far worse than any exam or even a driving test - didnt even register properly that both my sons had music exams today?! TT x


Hi. Wondering if u r still there. Googled my symptoms and your post popped up! Have u found any answers? I, too, have the swollen, 'bruised' knuckles and 'lentil' under the skin. My veins raised, but only an isolated incident. ** I am now gluten free, and my swelling is gone. Have u tried GF? My knuckles are swollen now, think I was exposed somehow, but still researching other possibilities. I've never figured out the lentil though. Thanks-


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