Knitting and arthritis

I started knitting about six years ago. I began to have problems with the joints in my knees and my hips. Out of nowhere the joints started to swell and it was so painful I could barely walk. Initially I thought that it would pass. I waited and took the pain killers and hoped for it to go away. But it didn’t. It just got worse and worse, it hurt so much I couldn’t get to work  as I couldn’t make it to the train station and even if I could the pain was so great I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate.  Beforehand I loved to walk; I walked everywhere. But I was totally stuck in the flat. Suddenly I’d gone from active to a sad little heap on the sofa,  veering between terrified of what was happening to me and bored out of my mind.

So, I started knitting. Yes, I was still stuck at home, it still hurt and I still had no idea what was happening, but I finally had something to do! Something fun to keep my brain distracted and my fidgety little hands busy.  I was totally addicted and thrilled to have found something so awesome to take from a fairly grim experience.

Eventually I started to realise that this wasn’t a temporary thing and I wasn’t going to get better.  I found ways to make it manageable and to ease the pain. I found an amazing acupuncturist, started yoga, learned to relax  and nourish myself with better food. I went back to work and got on with my life.

Over the years the pain has come and gone in flare ups. Mostly I’m fine and I can get about, do the things I want to and thoroughly enjoy my life. I eventually got a diagnosis of arthritis and started physio which is an amazing help (even if the exercises are an epic kind of dull). But every few months it sneaks back when the weather is bad, if I’m too stressed, if I’ve been doing too much or as a random suprise. When it happens it’s rubbish and  I’m pretty much stuck at home unable to walk as far as the tube unless I absolutely have to do something in which case I have to stuff myself with painkillers . That’s where my knitting comes in. I may not be able to get about but I can knit! I can curl up on the sofa with my knitting, a cup of tea and some trashy telly or a podcast and have a lovely time.

Every now and again I find that the joints in my hands hurt. For quite a long time  I have adopted a ‘la la I’m not listening’ approach. I’ve just ignored it, carried on knitting, and hoped that it would go away. But sadly over the past few months it’s becoming apparent that it’s not going away it’s getting much worse. It’s more than likely to be the same problem and I’m going to have to start taking it seriously. It’s got so bad that it hurts to much to  knit a lot of the time.  It’s fair to say that I’m gutted.  However I’m trying to look on the bright side. I’ll have to get myself back to the doctor for the exceptionally long and annoying process of getting a diagnosis (apparently you can’t possibly have arthritis below 40……) and then I need to work out what I am going to do to keep myself busy when my hands aren’t up to much.

Here’s the plan:

  • Research knitting for arthritis. Maybe there are special knitting needles? Maybe some wool is better than others?
  • Crochet? Maybe that’s easier on the hands?
  • A knitting machine? I like this idea. My friend is getting one soon and I thought I’d have a little play with hers and see if I like it and if so try and find me one of my own.

Hopefully I’ll have finished feeling sorry for myself very soon and I’ll be able to put the plan in action.


9 thoughts on “Knitting and arthritis

  1. I feel your pain, literally and figuratively. Arthritis is amazingly draining just emotionally, never mind the pain. I do find that crochet is easier on my joints than knitting but I mostly use ergonomic hooks. Have you researched ergonomic knitting needles? I’m sure there are some out there that would work for you!

  2. Thanks for your message. It’s lovely to know that I’m not alone. 🙂 It really is rubbish.
    I need to research ergonomic needles. I’ve been ignoring it and hoping it would go away as the idea of my hands going as well was just a little bit too upsetting (not terribly helpful!) but now I’m going to accept the situation and start looking at what I can do. I’m sure there’s a way around it! xxx

  3. My heart is with you. I crochet for the same reason you knit. It helps to soothe the pain and tremors in my hands. I would be devestated if I couldn’t crochet anymore because that is where I put alot of pent up energy. I hope they are able to figure out why the pain is increasing when you knit, since its abnormal for you. Hopefully it will be easily treatable and you can once again enjoy the pleasures that knitting brings to you.

  4. First, thank you for stopping by my blog! Lovely to have you “visit”.
    I think your ‘wearing in public’ dress is so cute (especially with the slippers!) Well done.
    I also feel your arthritis pain! My hands ache at times, mostly during the winter & when I have been pushing to get projects done for deadlines.
    I always have several knit projects going (as well as a couple crochet ones too) and I am sure to have some on bigger needles or hooks and then some on smaller. I find it feels better to switch the size of the tools and yarn, rather than keeping my hands & fingers in the same position too long.
    Also, have you tried the gloves made for painful hands? I know they sell them in yarn shops, and in online yarn/knitting shops. I have made my own, and when I wear them, I feel like my hands are better. They are made from lycra, and really hug your hands. They keep my joints warmer, which seems to help me.
    I also have been using honey and cinnamon in hot water ………a tip from my moms rhumatologist , and besides being delicious, I do think it has helped reduce & almost eliminate joint pain.
    Hoping you find some relief! Soon! Not being able to knit would make me crazy!

    • Thank you! I have to say that I am very fond on those slippers!
      Thanks for the tips for my hands. I tend to stick to one project so having a few with different sized needles sounds like a really good approach. I’ve never spotted the gloves in shops but maybe I can find them online.
      Trying not to knit is as hard as trying to give up smoking! I must be addicted to knitting……

    • Hi, again! I just posted on your other post about arthritis and went looking for this one, as you had mentioned it.

      For crochet, I use the Clover “soft touch” or something like that hooks and it has made a difference. I also like to find patterns for P and Q hooks- super large also helps. Also, when it get bad, those un-aesthetic gloves do help.

      Hang in there and good luck!

  5. I recently discovered your blog (and love it!) but read this post with particular interest. I started knitting a couple of years ago when I was diagnosed with arthritis in my spine and hips and it was suggested it might be a way to distract from the pain and ease tension (I was teaching full time!) I also started yoga which has proved tremendously helpful and so your blog seemed highly appropriate. I realise that this is of little constructive help but I think that knowing you are not on your own, particularly when you are at a low ebb, is of help and hope that the support and understanding of your readers will prove supportive and give you a lift. Take care and really hope the pain eases soon.

    • Thanks Deborah. You are so sweet! I’m glad that you like the blog. Knitting and yoga are two of my favourite things so I’m pleased that you like them too! 🙂 Yes it really does help to know that I’m not on my own, it makes me feel much better. I’m determined to find a more gentle way of approaching knitting so that I don’t aggravate things. I’ve found a few good suggestions online and from readers so I will figure it out.

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