Rhumatoid Arthritis and Shooting


July 31, 2011, 08:47 PM
I was diagnosed with RA about 5 years ago, although I suspect I've had it most of my adult life. My problem is the strength in my hands and wrists (plus other big joints) is gone. I am having a hard time racking the slide on the average auto. Revolvers are a little easier, but holding a 40+ oz. gun steady is nearly impossible. Does anyone know of any shooting gloves or other prosthetics that would give me a little extra grip and help? All thoughts and ideas are greatly appreciated.

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July 31, 2011, 09:00 PM
I feel your pain...literally.

Has your doc suggested any PT? I go Wednesday. Hope it helps.

Not aware of any aids. If you find something, please post it.

Tommy B
July 31, 2011, 09:14 PM
I'm 55 and retired and have had RA for about 10 years. Taking Humira shots every two weeks helps a lot for me. I have to rack my semi autos with my shooting hand though as my left hand just has no grip. Shooting gloves help a lot when I do a lot of shooting at the range. One thing I have found out about shooting with RA is .40 S&W and 10mm are out of the question.

July 31, 2011, 09:31 PM
I am 60 and have had RA since I was 27. I have been lucky as mine has not gotten worse as the years have gone by. I have more good days than bad. But some days not much gets done.
Sorry to say I know of no gizmos to help your situation. Every case is diferent. i hope you find A treatment that will help you keep moveing.
I am using prednisone. It's the only thing I have found that helps. It's hard on A person but keeps me going some days.
Good luck with it.

August 1, 2011, 12:28 PM
Humira or etanercept (Enbrel) stop the progression, won't get lost function back.
I'm thinking .22 (of course) .38 in a large frame revolver, .44 spl in a large frame revolver, .45lc in a lever gun.
Good luck.

The Lone Haranguer
August 1, 2011, 12:54 PM
There are shooting gloves available with gel-padded palms (e.g., the PAST) that would reduce the impact on your hand and wrist, but this won't address the hand/finger strength issue. If you want the handgun for self defense, this is one time I would recommend a .22. They are a lot of fun for recreational shooting as well.

August 1, 2011, 02:02 PM
My favorite pistol used to be a ruger superblackhawk 44mag and some days I'd shoot up a couple of hundred in a afternoon. Now after 8 years with RA I haven't shot it in over a year because it hurts too much, plus the weight is hard to hold for long. Weights and grip exercise helps but I have a hard time with that because of the pain and stiffness. Rifles and shotguns aren't too bad but they are getting harder to hold. I guess I'll start looking for field pieces, hey that just might be the ticket, always wanted a gatling gun , wish me luck, wonder what the game warden would say if I used it hunting.

August 1, 2011, 02:33 PM
I've got a 98year old uncle that can't close his hands around silverware due to both age and severe rhumatoid arthritis.....

....and his brother, my 85 year old uncle with Parkinsons (tremors only to this point) and with minor arthritis.

I let them both try my FN57, and they can BOTH easily manipulate the slide, shoot it pretty well, load a magazine (a little slowly, but no prob, the gun comes with THREE of them and I keep them checked) and do it SAFELY with complete "control"

So - I got one for each of them.

At their age, and in their condition, it's probably the ONLY effective handgun or long-gun they can safely operate in a self/home-defense situation.

20 NEARLY recoiless rounds fired into center-mass of an intruder may cause an uninvited guest to "re-think" their current situation.


August 1, 2011, 03:28 PM
Gloves will demand that you will have to come up with the strength and stability to hold and fire the gun. You want an external device to add the stability and strength for you, thus reducing felt recoil and increasing stability. You may want to try using power lifting wrist wraps, and an ace type bandage. Wrap the wrist first, and then with the second wrist wrap go around the hand while holding the gun wrap it on an angle including all fingers (except the trigger finger) with a greater degree of emphasis on the point where the thumb and hand meet. If additional stability is needed a short ace bandage can be wrapped around the entire hand again. This may or may not be a solution for you. A brief discussion with your RA therapist or doctor should give you better insight as to the efficacy or potential contraindications regarding this type of advice.

August 1, 2011, 06:14 PM
While it will not help your hands. Taking off exess weight will go A long ways with knee and hip problems. I let myself get up to 185lb and could hardly get up stairs. I trimmed down to 155lb and stairs are no problem. Not easy but it really does help.

August 2, 2011, 05:07 PM
I have it also, mornings are the worse. But I found if you can do some basic strength exersizes with weights, even very very light weight it tends to help a lot. I get on and of the exercise kick since when I overdue it I throw my back out so bad I can't get up. But if I could discipline myself to just doing what I know won't cause that , it's amazing how fast your strength comes back.
I would recomed some cable workouts, if you have access to a machine with an upper and lower pulley, you can do every exercise in the book. Just front side and rear deltoid raises, hold the cable with the handle and lit from your lowest position until paralell to the floor, then i can give you others if you find this helpful, I an talking about 2-5 lbs to start. It is just to get the tendons and ligaments back to getting used to movement. Strength comes later. Also ibuprofin seems to work best for me, just 1 in the morning.

August 2, 2011, 05:41 PM
My grandmother had this something horrible and I think I may be developing it too. I have it in my shoulder and wake up sometimes with it burning so bad I can't sleep. I had to switch from keeping a shotgun handy to my old trusty M4.

Anyway, PT is a MUST if you want to keep mobility. On good days, you need to use those bad joints as much as possible, and keep 'em lubed on bad days with light exercise. Like was mentioned, recoil gloves might help, but what may also be helpful is a leather splint. Like the ones you get for fractures and such. It has a metal strip that runs the length and ends in the palm to keep the wrist stable, laces up, is padded, and doesn't interfere with the fingers. May take time to get used to it. Go to a medical supply store and check 'em out, also ask them as they may have something better/newer.

For racking the slide: if it is just for range use (or if you have lax carry laws or just open carry) then you could use a hook. Like they use in open competition, or similar to the way an M4 is racked. Then you could snare it with you other hand, finger, whatever. They make them I know for the 1911 and the Glock. The Glock is just a simple switch of the rear plate.

Good luck. I really feel for you, when your body turns on you it just plain sucks. I don't know if you've tried it (I'm sure you have though) but naproxen, or Aleve, works well for me regarding the NSAID class of drugs. I take two in morn., two at night, double the dose but that is close to the prescription dose. I also have meloxicam, or Mobic, and it works okay I think but I prefer the naproxen. This works really well for the swelling and some for the pain, but that is about it.

Believe it or not, you can also try cherries. 100% cherry juice or fresh cherries. You have to eat a lot, but they can help with swelling. They help some folks with gouty arthritis too. Try it, it can't hurt, if you don't get some noticeable relief after trying if for a few days or a week, it probably won't help you past getting more fruit in your diet.

August 2, 2011, 10:25 PM
A gun from 30 to 40 ozs with a light trigger pull in 9mm will go a long way helping with your shooting.

I'am in the same boat as you guys,,can't close my left hand and my right not to good eather, but I keep shooting as long as I can.

Also reloading keep me useing my hands as a workout.

August 3, 2011, 09:05 PM
My grandmother had this something horrible and I think I may be developing it too. I have it in my shoulder and wake up sometimes with it burning so bad I can't sleep. I had to switch from keeping a shotgun handy to my old trusty M4.See your doctor for a simple bloodtest, to determine RA. Chances are good it's simple Osteoarthritis or Bursitis; not good, but far easier to control and generally localized, rather than systemic.

My wife has been an RA patient for over 30 years; since she was 27. She has what her doctor called "the worst case he's ever seen." She's 58 and has had 9 replacement surgeries. Her hands went first and were so destroyed, she couldn't fire a gun as simple as a Taurus PT-22.

I take Mobic for "an arthritic condition between L4 and L5" but I don't have anything yet wrong with my hands.

August 4, 2011, 04:06 PM
I went and followed my own advice, and went and did just 15 minutes on the eliptical walker, then 2 sets of 10 lb weights on pulleys, just to get blood to the shoulder, back, and arms. Feel 100% better in 25 minutes. I will attemt to getback to 45 minutes on the eliptical 5 days a week, but instead of going full blast as usual, I will increase by 5-10 minutes per day. I got up this morning and really could not get up. Laid on the heating pad and eventually took a pill for the pain. But a hot bath broke the cycle, then the exercise was possible. Once you stop the exercise ,its almost immediate that the pain returns.The berry thing works, my wife cooks a lot of frsh vegtables and fruit, which helps. Eating a lot of meat "like I used to" always make me feel worse the next day.I have a tens unit, back brace , you name it, but the exercise along with inversion works best. By the way the inversion really changed my life, I have been doing it about 7 years now, I can hear 5 or more disks crack as I invert. Try it at a sporting goods store. All my friends who have back problems got one after trying mine.

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