Friday, June 17, 2011

Helpful Hint #5: Tips for Arm/Wrist/Thumb Strain and Tendonitis

I first contracted tendonitis, not by knitting or crocheting, but by scooping ice cream, of all things—I was working at a summer job. My right wrist was in agony for a very long time. I ended up having to get a cortisone shot just so I could pass my driving test that summer.

Years later, at work as a developer, it flared up again—this time in both wrists. This time, the culprit was too much typing at a workstation that wasn’t ergonomically correct. That was back when ergonomics was first a hot issue, so the minute I called personnel I had someone at my workstation within the hour. Again, it took a very long time to get over that particular bout.

Imagine my shock years later to discover that my favorite new hobbies, knitting and crocheting, also aggravated my tendonitis…

After much trial and error, I finally hit upon a strategy for dealing with my condition.

First of all, I get medical attention, which I strongly recommend to anyone who is having any sort of strain from knitting and crocheting. I’ve been lucky, in that I haven’t required any surgery for my condition, but everyone is different. I’ve had physical therapy off and on over the years, which seems to work fine for me.


1) In general, I take frequent breaks—especially when crocheting. My rule of thumb is to knit or crochet for 15 minutes, then rest for 15 minutes, alternatively. This works especially well if you’re watching TV, as you can time your breaks for the commercial breaks and keep track that way!

2) When I have a nasty flair-up, I use one of those firmer wrist braces at night and a more flexible one during the day (Futuro puts out good ones–you can get them either online or in the drug store). Now that the tendonitis has spread to my thumb (too much texting), I wear one of those flexible thumb splints for daytime activities, again by Futuro.

3) I changed the setup on my laptop at work so that I now mouse on the left-hand side of my workstation (if you’re left-handed, do the opposite). It took a good three days to get used to the change, but overall, the incidence of flair-ups has decreased dramatically.

And, most importantly—REST!!!

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