Grit, Punch, Growl

So, this hand of mine has really started to bother me. I had a friend come over and take a look. He’s studying massage therapy and he asked where the pain was exactly. “From my wrist, down into my thumb, shoots up in my bicep and then lingers in my shoulder, near my rotary cuff. My pinky and ring finger are numb.” He just looks at me and says, “here, let me try this….” He begins working on my shoulder blade, painfully causing me to leap and bounce in my chair until I finally said, “Ok, ok, ok….I’m sorry, man. But, I can’t let you go any further until you get your license. You’re HURTING me.”

We decided on using Aspercreme, Icy Hot, Tiger Balm. Nothing. No change. As a matter of fact, I wandered around my little apartment last night smelling like a pickled old man. Not even Mario would approach me. She just looked at me oddly as if asking, “So where’s your truss???” Back off little kitty. Back off.

I haven’t been able to get an appointment yet, and the whole ordeal does make me a little nervous. I mean, I need these hands of mine. This is my work, my livelihood…..but more so, enjoyment. Knitting is becoming more painful. But, I work through it. I mean, is there a choice??? You work through pain, you grit your teeth, you punch pillows, and you growl when you put your boots on. But, you have to proceed. You have to continue. You HAVE to.

IMG_0663I’ve been working with a larger yarn, bigger needles. I have this yarn that was given to me from New Zealand. Amazing stuff. But, I decided to work with it, because it seemed like there was less movement the larger the needles were. So, the head of the bear is already larger than the body of my usual bears. I think he’s already been claimed (I’m pretty sure of it actually), but I thought I’d share a pic. Hopefully, the larger the bear, the less pain. And we can work on figuring out what in the world is wrong with my arm.

That’s the update. If you can, pick up a pattern or two. Or let someone know about my patterns. The less I knit right now, the better. Even though, they’re only a few dollars, it really does help out.

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39 comments

  1. Sounds like pinched nerves. Try stretching your hands downward as much as you can bend them at the wrist. Try pushing your fingers upwards as much as you can. Stretching and flexing is something you should be doing every hour or so to keep things limber. I knead a lot of stuff, and get the same kind of pain in my hands and arms. It’s no fun– Aleve helps a great deal.

  2. If you’re getting numbness and tingling in your fingers you are pinching or aggravating a nerve somewhere. You are probably experiencing an overuse injury because of your Knitting but I’m sure you figured that out already. Is your motion restricted in anyway? I’m a PT but I work with kids so orthopedics isn’t my thing! I hope your appointment goes well and you get some answers.

  3. Sounds like carpal tunnel… not to scare you, but it’s a common repetitive motion injury. I developed carpal tunnel in my left hand due to crocheting, and when I’d get the numbness in my fingers, I’d have to hold my arm over my head to get it to go away. Physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, and a wrist brace helped to alleviate the pain.

  4. It sounds like you have arthritis. When it’s bone on bone, all the massages & creams you can get don’t seem to help. I will have surgery to repair the arthritis in my hand so I can continue to crochet, open jars, pull up my jeans, etc. without experiencing pain.

  5. Yep – I agree with carpal tunnel or possibly tendonitis – both will probably require surgery but the good news is – if the patient behaves himself and rests!! then the fabulous bears can continue – I’ll buy another if it helps šŸ™‚

    1. Oh come on! Don’t say SURGERY!!!! NO!!!! Can’t I just…..WILL it away???? And I don’t like the idea of pills. I can’t tolerate pills. I don’t even take aspirin. But, with everything, nothing can be done until I have a diagnosis. I mean I could hurt myself doing something until I have someone say, “This is the problem.” (No surgery….no no no.)

      1. Me thinks it’s over use. I would imagine some physical therapy would be where to start, not surgery. I have had terrible pain with osteoarthritis and over use. While I was prescribed pain meds, it was physical therapy that saved me. Wishing you luck!

      2. Don’t let people frighten you. My OH, who is a senior physiotherapist says a problem with your neck is the most likely cause. Properly explained neck exercises and traction should help a lot.

  6. I’m sorry you are having hand/wrist pain. I’m 33 and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and I can sympathize with you completely. I hope you are able to get to the doctor soon, I would definitely rest your hands until you get checked out and on some meds. I can tell you from experience it’s not good to try and work through the pain.

    Get better!

  7. I have 4 pinched nerves in my neck and often have many of the symptoms you are describing. I knit every day and find if I am not sitting in the perfect position my arm and hand goes numb. Prior to being diagnosed by way of an MRI, I had periods of excruciating pain. Even right now as I am typing, my wrist and thumb have the tingling. It is important to have a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Good luck to you.

  8. I rarely have pain caused by knitting, except when I knitted something with very thick yarn, and large diameter circular needles. I prefer to use double pointed needles [no larger than 4mm (US 6), but usually thinner than that], and with a knitting belt.

  9. Shug, can you try a different knitting method? I find the Portugese technique useful when my wrist is a problem (arthritis) and also switch from throwing to Continental sometimes. There is a learning curve to getting adept but it is very useful.

    1. Yes, I wish someone had taught me Continental when I was young – it’s much more efficient, requiring far less movement – probably less likely to incur injury. (I don’t knit a great deal, so I haven’t thrown myself into figuring out how to do it.)

  10. Weather it’s a pinched nerve, carpel tunnel, arthritis etc. the Dr.s rec will be the same. Rest, no knitting. I know that is awful to hear, but maybe you can focus on the finishing of the bears. Ice, rest , the gentle stretching for carpel listed above, usually they say no heat(I think). If you don’t scale back the knitting, chance to cause permenant damage, sorry. Faced similar situation with crochet.

  11. I think your massage student friend may have been on the right track, although possibly too much pressure? Trigger point (knots in massage lingo) can cause all of the pain you’re experiencing and be extremely painful when pressure is applied. Consider giving him another chance! I agree with the stretching and regular rest advice and I’d like to add using ice and heat. 10-15 minutes on, 10-15 minutes off starting and ending with ice.
    A great book for self-care is The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies. You can probably find it at your local library. You can also google search forearm and hand trigger points. The book is nice because you can look at each body section for where your pain is and it lists each muscle that might be causing it from most to least likely and how to work on yourself.
    I’ve had the same numbness and tingling in my ring finger and pinky from knitting and doing massage and I was able to find relief by releasing the trigger points. I hope you can too! And I hope all the advice you get isn’t too overwhelming.

  12. As for your pain been there done that.
    Here are a few tips/ideas:
    “wrist stabilizer” braces the kind with a metal bar thing… sleep in do everything in it. (The Ace brand are easy to find but there are others. .. try them on right there in the store find ones that feel ok)

    Not sure if you throw or pick when you knit. But now is the time to learn the other way.
    so you can switch off every other bear. (Your tension will be a bit different you might need two bears going at a time just to switch off when the pain is too much)

    Posture posture posture sit with your core straight and level shoulders and hips. I still have my feet up took me a long time to really find comfortable again
    (don’t kill the messanger)
    I loved to curl up and knit but it was killing me.

    heat heat heat. A cloth a little wet microwaved and wrapped on your wrist and shoulders will help too more the the stinky rubs. ( I live in a climate that gets cold but I used to wrap my arms with those pocket warmers that you Crack and they stay warm for hours… not sure that helps you in FL.)

    please get to a Dr. when you can

    Jenn Marie

    Limetulips@email.com

    PS. please let me know if you need help getting braces I have found some on amazon and could send them your way (if you find some try on the sizes if not you can guess)
    I still sleep in mine when I am working on a big project just so I do all I can to keep from ever going back to that place.

  13. Pss. If you can google yoga for knitters they have great stretches you can do to help keep you body limber enough to knit.

    I didn’t have to do surgery… I was very certain I would not do that. I see you don’t want to do pain meds… but by not adding the your body can get in your own way of not healing. You don’t have to always take them but maybe you can decide on a pain level and treat your self to a bit of less pain for a few hours.

  14. I did the same thing and strained my right arm. If you don’t want to take meds, try massaging the trigger point areas and work your way up your arm. I am a massage therapist and start massaging my thumb to the next spot usually near my elbow then up my arm ending at my shoulder. You may want to ice the area as well it will help. Take frequent breaks and stretch.

  15. I had the exact thing two months ago. I’ve done the x-rays and seen an orthopedic. They are going to tell you to slow down. Where wrist splints to bed. Remember I’m a toy knitter to. Those 14 hour days caught up. I had to take two whole weeks off then from then on take two whole days off from knitting during the week. I’m only knitting two days then take off a whole day then repeat. If you don’t slow down, the doctor says I’ll need surgery

  16. If the pain and tingling is on the little finger side of your hand, the problem might be a pinched ulnar nerve. It often occurs at the elbow (cubital tunnel syndrome) but it may also be compressed at the wrist or shoulder. I had similar symptoms years ago when I had a standard transmission car with a tricky gear shift. When I traded the car in for an automatic the pain went away. Whatever the cause is I hope you find relief soon.

  17. Oh no! I feel your pain–I’ve had it off/on for 10 years.
    I just went to physio today for more wrist pain and hands/fingers falling asleep. I also has nerve testing done a few months ago.
    What I have learned: if your thumb, pointer or middle finger are hurting, as well as wrist pain/numbness–it’s carpal tunnel. If it’s your baby and/or ring finger falling asleep–it’s the ulner nerve–inner elbow (aka Golfers elbow). I learned today that the issues CAN be caused by neck/shoulder nerves–So it’s great that your friend was checking into that first. Could be knitting and possibly stress or injury in your neck/shoulders.
    What has helped me: a good wrist brace to wear at night–doesn’t have to be super fancy but it should have a firm/rigid part that holds your wrist neutral and to keep it from moving/flexing.
    If don’t want to take Advil, try ice-20 minutes on, 20 off for an hour.
    If you google carpal tunnel stretch videos you will likely find the same stretches that I learned at physio today.
    I hope you are able to get it looked at
    To know for sure.

  18. I got over carpal tunnel without surgery. Best way to go but what I learned the hard way – ignoring your body will make it scream louder and then those bears will come smack you in the middle of the night šŸ™‚ My PT has made me promise to crochet no longer than 20 minutes, with good posture – and then get up and move! Repeat. And Ice Ice Baby!!

  19. PS – I used to be a sign language interpreter (was also in massage school simultaneously for awhile). We get SO much overuse, pinched nerves, bad posture etc. Trust me – surgery is the last resort but this is a wake up call. There – have you been mothered and advised enough by now? šŸ˜‰

  20. I was a massage therapist for 10 years in a sports club. It sounds like your friend was working in the right place and from there he would have worked his way down your arm and also your lats in your back. It would be very painful and bring tears to your eyes. Believe me I made some big men cry. But after a few massages the pain would subside and the movement was much better.

    If the pain is too much he could lesson the pressure but it will take a lot longer which would be OK if he is willing to do that for you. I would continue if I was you. You will see a very big difference. No pain, no gain. Just make sure he warms up the muscles with smooth strokes before he starts. You will see a big difference.

  21. It sounds like carpal tunnel to me šŸ˜¦ Have you tried some knitting gloves, Lion Brand makes some blue ones that keep your wrists warm and give you some support while working; I don’t knit without those anymore. I’m sure there are other brands as well. When my wrists and arm started hurting I wore a wrist support by 3M at night while sleeping. It helped me quite a bit to rest my arms. Also yoga could help you stretch those muscles that seem to be contracted, just find some poses that stretch your wrists. You can find plenty of exercises on YouTube. Good luck and get well!

  22. Gregory – sure hope that your pain gets taken care of soon. I am also a knitter and have had some upper back and neck issues lately. I found a Chiropractor to be very helpful. One thing he highly recommends is ice. I’m sure I have some pinched nerves up in my neck. I can feel that it is inflamed and the ice and some stretching really help. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. You are a true inspiration. Sending positive thoughts your way. I bought your book a few weeks ago and can’t wait to read it soon. I know your patterns are on Ravelry, but have you thought about selling them there too?

  23. Ok dear, I hate to tell you this, you need to rest your hand a little. I have been where you are and you will end up with permanent tendonitis if you don’t. You need to take frequent breaks, get up and move around a leave your knitting for a bit. Ice it. An anti-inflammatory will help, you can get them over the counter. Get a soft brace from the drug store, no metal splints, most come with the splints but you can take them out. It will take a little time but it will slowly get better. Walmart has patches that have capsacin (sp) in them they cost a buck, use that on the post painful places. It is a natural nerve deadener for lack of a better word and they do help. I was in severe pain for 3 years from my work and the doc gave me meds and everything but the thing that helps the most is I had to rest my hand. I am good now but if I over do I pay for it. HUGS!!!!

  24. Sounds like carpal tunnel syndrome to me also…which is definitely no fun! I have it and when I crochet, my hands just scream at me! Knitting doesn’t bother me (yet) but if I were you, I’d stop knitting for a while and do exercises like someone mentioned above and ice your hands for however long you need to! 15 minutes on and then 15 minutes off. I know you don’t like talking pills but an anti-inflamatory like Aleeve (sp?) would help with the pain that you’re experiencing quite a bit! I would also encourage you to get to your doctor as soon as possible! There are special exercises that he/she could give you handouts for. If that doesn’t work, physical therapy can work wonders because they rehabilitate the muscles that you use to knit and they can really help you with the pain that you’re experiencing!
    It might also be helpful to learn a different way of knitting, like Continental knitting! I hope that you are feeling better soon and I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you and praying for you also! Hope you have an amazing weekend!

    All My Best,

    Lori šŸ™‚

  25. I am a transcriptionist in my career and a knitter for my hobby. I use my hands a lot. I’ve experienced feelings similar to what you have described. The MDs diagnose tendonitis, encourage taking pills (not my preference) and surgery. I sought out massage treatment, first. Not the spa-type massage treatment (relaxing, has its place), but rather the massage provided for therapy, to heal. That was 20 years ago, and I have not ever required surgery. I make the treatment of my upper back, neck, shoulders, arms, and wrists part of my routine, receiving treatment @ least 3x/week, and this has helped me maintain my career, enjoy my hobby, without having to ingest copious amounts of prescriptive medications OR surgery.

    Please, before doing anything drastic like surgery or cortisone shots, give massage therapy the opportunity to help.

  26. odd idea here but try knitting lying down, that should change the stress patterns and reduce the pressure! Also try Yoga, worked wonders for me and I got movement back when they hospital said only cortisone injections or (SHhhhh) Surgery, I wont go under the knife, I am way too young and most is old folk surgery that is for 10 or 15 years max then do again less effectively šŸ˜› I wish you luck and much rest!

  27. You’ve got lots of good advice here. And out of all of it is the bottom line: take breaks, reposition periodically while knitting, do relaxing hand and finger stretches (factories have guidelines for this sort of thing), and any fears of what is ailing you? Don’t let them rule over you. You may need to get professional advice. I crochet (it’s my “drug of choice” so to speak) and can get so lost in a project that I often lose track of time until I look up and realize that it’s dark outside. My left pinky finger gets cramped and painful and sometimes acts like it has a mind of its own. That’s my signal to change how my left hand is holding the yarn. Perhaps it’s time to put down the crochet hook and exercise my hands in other activities (like the housework I really need to be doing:>) ). And along with this advice I’ll pray for you. Have a blessed day!

  28. I had the same problems and was diagnosed with DeQuervains tendonosis after an MRI. There are stretching exercises on YouTube for this that help with range of motion. I am also a knitter – the stretches help.

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