Knitting and Arthritis- things that might help

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about the problems I’ve been having with knitting now that my arthritis appears to have spread to my hands  (I know that it doesn’t actually ‘spread’ but you know what I mean). I got some lovely responses which have made me feel much better. Thanks a lot for those! Crafty people are lovely!

I’ve been doing a bit of research to see what I can do to help ease the pain a little and help me to keep my hands busy. Here’s what I’ve found out so far:

  • Using bamboo needles. This seems like a good plan and the next time I buy that’s what I’ll go for. They are prettier anyway and now I have an excuse to spend that extra bit of money. 🙂 On the downside they aren’t cheap so I can’t just replace my whole needle collection with bamboo (I have a lot of needles!). Also they don’t come in quarter sizes and I find that I do a lot of knitting on 2.75 and 3.25 as I have a funny tension and often need to go down a bit.
  • Using circular needles. I like this one as I already do use them! I think it’s about taking weight from you wrists and shoulders as the weight of the knitting sits in your lap while with straight needles the weight stays on the needles and is taken by your wrists.
  • Knitting holders. These look good in theory as you clamp the needles into the holder and it saves your hands from being in the same position all the time (all scrunched up which is probably a very bad position for achey hands to be in).  I’m not sure about it in practise though. Would they work with circular needles? What about when you need to wrap and turn or if you’re working in the round? Or if it’s a small bit of knitting, do you have to take it out and turn it around every row? What if it’s a huge project, surely it won’t fit? The jury is still out on this one.
  • Avoiding cables. This one made me sigh because I love cables. Apparently they are much harder on the hands. 😦
  • Use wool rather than acrylic. I don’t use acrylic anyway so I can already tick that box.
  • Learn different knitting style and alternate. This makes sense to me. As soon as my hands are feeling a bit better I’ll start trying to learn continental style. Then I can alternate between styles and reduce the repetitive movement (well alternate the repetitive movement anyway).
  • Soaking my hands. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before as I have lots of baths to help with my knees and my hips. I tried this yesterday and it really helped. Not enough to pick up my needles unfortunately but it offered some rest-bite and I was okay to type again.
  • Arthritis gloves. This sort of thing. I hope you don’t judge me here but I’m very reluctant to get some of these. They aren’t terribly, um, aesthetically pleasing. Also I’m 30…..somehow I feel to young to need that….although obviously I’m not….. I need to think about this a little bit more.
  • A private physiotherapist. This would be an awesome option. Sadly it’s a bit too pricey. Luckily the NHS people I already see for my knees are lovely and down the road. However I need to be re-refered by the doctor to see them about something else (I blame Cameron et al for stealing all the money from the NHS).
  • Go and see the doctor!  The final and most obvious approach. I have an appointment this afternoon. I don’t find doctors are very helpful with this sort of thing.I don’t really know why. Bad luck? Living in London where everyone is a tiny bit meaner? So far all I’ve achieved is negative tests for rheumatoid arthritis and then they go “hurrah, you don’t have that” and then suggest I take paracetamol (!) or send me to the ‘pain clinic’ (not as bad as it sounds but not much help.  They did give me a tens machine but I don’t find it works for me. I have no idea how people use those things to get through labour.) I am hoping for better luck this time.

On the plus side I was look at the Arthritis Research website and they have an article which says that there is no evidence that knitting makes arthritis in the hands worse- yay!

If anyone has tried any of the above- let me know if it helped!


4 thoughts on “Knitting and Arthritis- things that might help

  1. I crochet and am learning loom knitting. I also have arthritis- although much older than you now, I was younger than you when it first reared it’s ugly head.

    One of the things that helps me, especially in cold and/or damp weather is a hot paraffin wax bath. You can buy them in any place that sells personal care appliances, like Amazon. They really make my hands feel better when they get cranky.

    Wishing you the best!


  2. Hi, Just came across your post and its just struck a note with me. Since easter Ive had a dodgy left hand wrist pain when I knit a lot or sometimes a little. I put it down to repetitive strain, but ive had twinges in my right thumb also recently. Theres a bit of arthritis in the family so Ive been in denial a bit but its possible thats what it is. I see a physio occasionally for back problems and I’ll ask her about it next time but in the meantime I’ll take some of your research into account. I dont mind the look of the gloves especially for the winter – I find the cold doesnt help. I wear a wrist support now and again and it helps. I’m 38 so a bit older than you but still we are a bit young to be having to dealing with this:/!!

    • Glad to help a little 🙂 I hope the physio has some good ideas. I find them a generally awesome bunch. They are all about the practical help and I don’t know about you but I always feel better if I’m taking active steps to improve a difficult situation. It makes me feel like a bit more in control of things (without sounding like a massive control freak!)
      I think I will get some of the gloves when the weather turns. I’m just being silly really. I’ve had to switch all my footwear already because of my bad knees (only sensible supportive shoes for me now :() and I get a bit fed up with having to make changes to accommodate the joint pain. However anything that helps me to knit for longer must be a good thing!
      Thanks for getting in touch. It’s always heartening to know that there are other people in the same boat! x

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