*I am not a medical professional, if you think you may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome please consult your physician. The sooner the better.*
One of the issues many people who crochet encounter is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. What exactly is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome you ask? Well for me it started as an occasional dull ache in my wrist and hand when I would spend a lot of time crocheting or doing plank poses in yoga. I would throw a brace on while I slept for about a week and the pain would go away and I would go back to what it was that I had been doing. Then one day doing yoga it felt like there was something hard in my wrist that made planks extremely uncomfortable. I mentioned it in passing to my doctor, she felt my wrist and said there could be a ganglion cyst in there and we let it go. I let it go for about 3 years. Then one February morning when I was finally working on a blanket for my husband (he had been complaining for months because everyone else had something I had crocheted but he felt like the cobbler’s kid without shoes), my index and middle fingers suddenly went numb and when they weren’t numb there was a lot of pain. Uh oh…that’s NOT normal. I was sent to a specialist and endured three rounds of cortisone shots that barely helped before I was cleared for surgery. All in all if I had gotten the shots 3 years earlier it probably would have saved a lot of time, effort, and money (so glad we have good insurance!). Not to mention the very attractive scars I now have.
Technically speaking Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is pain, numbness, or tingling in the hand or fingers caused by inflammation in the wrist. The nerves to the hand pass through small openings which can cause pressure on the nerve if there is inflammation, usually caused by repetitive motions. Want more in depth information and pictures? Click here
The point? I have learned some things along that could help you reduce symptoms or reintroduce crochet into your life after surgery. Again, I am not a doctor, if you have symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, see a doctor.
1. Take a break!
I know, I know, you just want to finish the row that you’re on. Been there, done that, and forgot to stop at the end of the row. Set a timer to make yourself stop for at least 5 minutes.
No, I’m not saying you have to stop crocheting and go run a mile. Give your fingers and hands an exercise break. If you can, go see a physical therapist, they are a wonderful resource. If however your insurance requires a prescription and your surgeon does not believe in physical therapy, you can check out these links that I have found helpful. If it doesn’t feel right, stop. Stretching is good, pain is bad.
Wrist Exercises (It’s Wikihow, but when I was recovering from my surgery it was the best I could find)
Thumb Exercises (This is actually from a medical facility)
3. Go Ergo
Ergonomic that is. After my surgery I just could NOT grip my regular hooks very well. Luckily my local Ben Franklins carries a nice selection of individual Boye Ergonomic Aluminum Crochet Hooks. They are even color coded when you buy individual sizes. Just a warning, if you are in the middle of a project when you switch hooks, double check the millimeter size on the hook.
4. Stress, What Stress?
Let’s talk about stress. In this particular instance I’m referring to muscular stress. Lion Brand Yarn has stress relief gloves that are essentially fingerless tight gloves. I haven’t seen any empirical evidence of whether these work or not, but they aren’t very expensive so I bought them. I use them every time I crochet. I just wish they covered the thumb, my thumb is the only thing that still has trouble sometimes since my surgery. Take a look
5. Stress, Again?
This time I mean the traditional type of stress. Stress exacerbates any medical condition. So stop, do some yoga, meditate, set next to a fountain or stream, go for a peaceful walk in nature. If you like yoga or meditation, Yoga International is a great resource. They have articles about wrist care and a great workshop by Doug Keller about the wrists. The articles are free up to a certain number of views, but the workshop is only available for paid memberships. Check it out
Have other ideas I didn’t mention? Please share them with me, the last thing I want to do is have another surgery!
5 thoughts on “The Dreaded Carpal Tunnel”
Great tips! I suffered a pinched nerve once that I believe was a crochet related injury. I couldn’t crochet for almost 6 weeks! 😦
Oh no! Nerve injuries are awful. I think my final total ended up being 11 months. Talk about withdrawal!
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Oh I don’t know what I would do without my hooks for 11 months!! 😦
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Thank you so much for the thumb exercises! I have tendonitis in both thumbs, my left being worst, and these exercises are helping. I, too, have carpal tunnel and so far have escaped surgery (going on 12 years) by doing The Carpal Tunnel Institute DVD exercises, taking 2 Bromelain tablets a day (a natural anti-inflammatory) and taking 200mg of Vitamin B6 a day (no more than that!; B6 is a nerve pain killer). The main issue is that people let it go until they HAVE to have surgery. You are so right – deal with it when you start having problems and you just might be able to avoid a lot of pain and surgery down the road!
Hopefully you don’t have to go through surgery at any point, it is definitely an experience I don’t want to repeat! Thank you for passing along how you have managed your Carpal Tunnel!