Although loom knitting is ideal for those of us with arthritis, it can take its toll. Our hands, particularly our thumb joints, can be so painful even trying to do simple tasks such as turning a door knob or the key to the car. How about trying to open a jar, pull up a zipper or hold a heavy glass? Even trying to write can be painful.
Those of us who love crafting find it hard to hold a loom knit hook, crochet hook or knitting needle. But how can we relieve this pain without having to give up what we love to do most, crafting?
According to the Mayo Clinic, thumb arthritis is the most common form of osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear arthritis) of the hand and is caused by, well, just what it says: wear and tear. The cartilage wears down until, eventually, it is bone-to-bone and very painful!
So, barring surgery or that lovely experience called cortisone shots (this from first-hand experience, pun intended), what other ways can we relieve our pain and still enjoy our every day life?
- One thing I have found that helps while loom knitting, as well as other crafts using a hand-held tool, is to cradle the knit hook more in the fingers of my right hand and using my index finger against the hook to guide, leaving my thumb loose.
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds, such as Motrin or Advil do help to keep the swelling down around the joint, which contributes to the pain.
- Icy Hot patches work great for me. I use the Micro Patch which is nice and small and put it right on my thumb joint:
(If I can’t find the Micro Patch, I just cut up a regular-sized patch.)
- Are you a fan of essential oils? If so, give a mixture of peppermint oil and Argan oil (or other carrier oil) a try. Not only is the peppermint oil a wonderful pain reliever once massaged into the base of the thumb area, it also is an anti-inflammatory. Bonus: the Argan oil produces the softest skin!
When desperate, I have been known to grab a foam curler out from a drawer and put it on a tool, pencil or pen to give me some cushion to use. It really does work!
- Sewing is also a challenge but I find using the longer quilt pins make it easier to pin my work while sewing. Also using nice (read: not so cheap) ergonomic scissors or rotary cutters work much better.
- You can try a wrist/thumb splint, but that really does limit the rest of your hand. One splint I found very helpful is called the Push MetaGrip, which I found on Amazon. It closes using velcro strips (which do tend to wear out over time, however). It is also pricey. But it does work well for me, since I am not able to take anti-inflammatory meds. If you do decide to purchase this, be aware that there are choices: Left or Right, and different sizes for each. I have a small hand so chose the Right Size 1 and it fit perfect.
In the end, I have become quite ambidextrous. I use my laptop mouse with my left-hand, even though I am right-handed, for instance. I also switch hands while doing repetitive tasks, such as stirring and scrubbing.