Keeping the Hands Going

You might remember I wrote a while back about the giant knuckle on my little finger. I did finally ask the doctor about it, feeling very sheepish about my trivial concern, slotted as I was, no doubt, between a patient with a brain tumour and one in a wheelchair. He took one look, kind of scoffed and said "It's arthritis." Apparently it's also in my right thumb. He grudgingly ordered an x-ray, which confirmed his suspicions. The knuckle in the little finger has a deteriorated joint. He suggested Voltaren to relieve the pain and inflammation, which sort of helps, but it's basically downhill from here.

Which is not welcome news. I need my hands. I have already given up weaving because of my back, and haven't spun in a year because I don't want to tempt fate, but there is something about holding a needle that seems to really bother my right thumb if I do it for too long. And a recent flurry of machine quilting left my hands mysteriously sore and achy.  So I checked around the internet and did find a couple of posts with good information especially for stitchers.

Quilter Jeni Baker has lots of good tips in her article Safe Sewing: Crafting with Arthritis. And Nordic Needle has a good piece on Hand Health. I also found lots of sites that gave warm up exercises for the hands, but doing them in a sinkful of hot water seems like it would be much more effective. Pacing and taking lots of breaks is just common sense, but I really need to DO IT, not just think about it.

I'm wondering about the upcoming gardening season, since that can be very hard on the hands. Some kind of extra-supportive glove is probably the answer. Any other good ideas out there?


  1. Sorry you're having arthritis pain while creating your marvelous stitched pieces, Heather. It seems to be a hazard of getting older. Yeah, I know! How annoying.

    A friend with seriously arthritic knees has had quite a bit of success reducing the inflammation by changing her diet. Avoiding the nightshade vegetables, wheat and several other things plus Aqua-fit exercise has helped her to weather the wait until she gets a double knee replacement operation - hopefully very soon. Perhaps that might help with other forms of arthritis too. My personal affliction is my hips but they aren't at all bad most of the time. The trick seems to be to keep moving but don't overdo it.

    Take care and pace yourself. You want to be able to keep stitching for as long as possible, right? Also there are a number of ways to spin without stressing. Judith MacKenzie and Sara Lamb both have some great techniques.

  2. Anonymous3:32 AM

    It's hard to face the fact that, just when we get to the stage of our lives when we have time to do all the things we love, like gardening and handwork, our bodies have other ideas. But, you're right, if we treat ourselves right and make choices, we can still be productive!

  3. Anonymous10:54 AM

    I am into traditional chineese medicine recently, had really good experience with accupuncture (not artritis, but been reumatic since my childhood), also try to follow my TCM doctor's recommendation on a diet and lifestyle, and it works! Hope you'll also find some long term solution to palliate your artritis and stop it where it is.

  4. me too. i have changed my diet. almost no dairy, coffee or alcohol. fresh vegetable and friut juices, glucosamine supplements. arnica cream. tons of walking.

    I feel almost normal.

  5. So sorry to read about this! I too have heard that cutting dairy, gluten and tomato help reduce inflammation, but not sure how valid the info is.


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