Do you suffer with pain in hands from crochet?
This in depth guide will help you find the best method to alleviate the pain you get when you crochet.
If you’ve spent time crafting, then I’m sure, like most crafters, you’ve experienced physical pain from doing the thing you love.
Crafting is such a massive part of my life, and because of that I spend a lot of my time
with fellow crafters, whether that’s online, or when I teach classes. One topic
of conversation comes up again and again… And that is PAIN!
No matter what the craft type, there usually seems to be physical pain at some point.
It can vary from mildly annoying, right up to unbearable where the sufferer can no
longer do the craft they love.
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways you can alleviate some or all of this pain.
I do have to put a disclaimer in here… ** I am not a doctor/physician and I have not had any type of medical training**
I would strongly suggest that if you experience pain whilst crafting, that you get professional advice.
That said however, I have done extensive research by talking to hundreds of people that have experienced some of these problems and would like to pass on to you some tips that have helped them to either alleviate, control and in some cases completely eradicate some of these symptoms.
Some of the things we’ll be covering here will be…
- best positions to sit whilst you crochet
- Pain in shoulders and neck
- Using cushions to support your arms
- Muscle knots and what they actually are
- Numbness or pins and needles in the fingers when you crochet
- Repetitive strain injury – RSI
- Carpal tunnel… & pain relief at night
- What are the symptoms
- What is the treatment
- How to cope with the pain of Carpal tunnel at nights
- Cubital tunnel
- What causes cubital tunnel
- How to treat it
- Crochet with arthritis
- How do you know if you have arthritis?
- Using Hemp oil
- What is Hemp oil
- Do magnetic copper bracelets work?
- Compression gloves
Other remedies that may help relieve pain whilst you crochet
In depth research has proved that crafting helps to improve mental and overall wellbeing… It can lower blood pressure, slow down the onset of dementia, help to combat anxiety and can also distract from chronic pain,… The mental health
charity, Mind, has lots of info on how crafting can help keep your mind healthy.
Apart from the health benefits of crafting, it’s enjoyable, and so rewarding, especially when you can make something to gift to someone you love or for charity.
Crafting is even better for our mental health if we can craft with friends, or find a local group that does your particular craft.
Also there are lots of people that have built a business around their crafts, so it can be financially important to be able to carry on crafting.
So it would be such a shame if those of us that suffer with pain through crafting have to stop altogether.
It is vital that we take notice of our body and what it is telling us, if you start getting pain anywhere, don’t just ignore it in the hope that it will go away. Often if we catch it early enough we can change the way we do something, even if it’s very small changes, it can be enough to stop the pain in its tracks.
Change Your Sitting Habits
Most home crafts are done whilst sitting down, and if you’re anything like me, when I get stuck into a project, it could mean sitting down for long periods of time because I get so involved with what I’m creating time loses all concept.
We all know that we need to be as active as possible, but many of us are guilty of not moving enough. Time just slips by and before we know it a couple of hours have passed and we haven’t actually got out of our chair. A great way to remind you is to set an alarm for every 30 minutes…
As soon as the alarm goes off, get up! Walk around for a couple of minutes, or walk up and down the stairs a few times (if you have stairs) jog on the spot, even better if you can do it outside. Shake your arms out and roll your shoulders, move as much as you can for 2 minutes, then you can sit back down for 30 minutes.
This isn’t just for crafters, but many of us also spend long hours working on a computer… Any time you have to sit for long periods of time, try this 2 minutes moving for every 30 minutes sitting.
It’s amazing what this one small change can make… Try it for yourself and let me know how you get on.
Pain In Shoulders, Neck & Back
Many crafters suffer with a tingling feeling or pain in the back of the neck, shoulders or between the shoulder blades… This can often be due to poor posture, do you sit with your neck forward, looking down at your work?
Here are some tips you could try to help you sit correctly…
First of all, be aware of how you’re sitting… It’s very easy to start out sitting correctly, but we can soon forget, and then we fall back into our poor posture. back pain from sitting can be quite painful, but there are lots of things you can do to help alleviate the pain.
Plant your feet firmly on the floor or a low footstool.
Your thighs should be parallel with the floor.
Your bottom should be pushed to the back of the seat, so that your weight is on your
butt cheeks, and not the base of your spine. We can tend to slide our bottom forward in the seat as we relax.
The natural curve of the spine which needs gentle support when we’re sitting down.
Your lumbar region should be supported… This is the lower back where there is a natural inward curve. The spine in most cases, is perfectly capable of maintaining its natural curvature without a lumbar support, however, when sitting for long periods of time we have a tendency to slouch forward.
Over a period of time this can be the cause of pain, because by slouching in this way, it pushes the lower back outwards instead of its natural inward curve, this then strains the structure of the lower back.
To avoid this there are a few options…
Have a chair which has good, built in lumbar support.
Roll up a towel and place it behind the small of your back and sit back against it.
A correct lumbar support should help to keep the ears, shoulders and pelvis in alignment, whilst also maintaining the natural inward curve of the lower spine. It should not over accentuate the inward curve, merely support it.
If you’re working on a crochet project, the tendency is to either have it in your lap so that you bend your neck to look down at it which can cause pinched nerves which can then cause pain in the shoulders… Or… Perhaps if your eyesight is not so great then you might be lifting it up so it’s easier to see. Unfortunately, both these options could be giving you pain in your neck and shoulders.
Fortunately, like with most of these pain causing problems there’s a work around option.
You could use a cushion or a lap tray to lift your work higher so you wouldn’t have to bend your neck to look down at it… it would then be closer for you to see without having to keep your arms and shoulders raised.
Sometimes when working on a large project, like an afghan, where possible, you could sit at a table, so you’re not lifting the weight of it as you crochet.
Just make sure the table is not too high, it should be level with your elbows… if it’s higher than that it would mean you will have to lift your arms higher, which would put more strain on your shoulders and arms. Consider buying a chair or table that has adjustable heights so you get the right balance for you.
Using Cushions To Support Your Arms
Another option is to put cushions on either side of you to rest your arms on, this way they support your elbows and keep them close to your body all the time and you don’t get tension in your shoulders and neck. There are some great all in one seat cushions, which are definitely on my ‘to buy list’.
Your wrists and hands should be in line with your forearms as much as possible… I know it can be difficult, but try not to work with your wrists bent.
Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and low… A lot of us tend to lift our shoulders closer to our ears, which then causes tension in the neck and shoulders.
As fatigue sets in throughout the day we naturally tend to slouch, so keep mindful of your posture as the day goes on, it may seem alien to you to start with, but if you stick with it you will find sitting up straight with your back pressed towards the back of your chair will start to become more natural.
Help to relieve pain when you crochet by practicing yoga.
A really good way to help with your overall posture is to go to some tai chi or yoga classes. Even if you haven’t got great mobility, these sort of classes will start you off at a level that is right for you, it will help you build up your core strength making it easier to sit up straight for longer periods of time.
Help to relieve pain when you crochet by practicing tai chi.
What are they?
Simply put, they are hard sensitive areas in the muscle, the muscle is contracted and shortened even when the muscle is not being used… they can often be caused by poor posture.
Muscle knots are often found in the neck, shoulders, back and also the hip area… Muscle knots are also referred to as trigger points, as they can often cause pain in different locations on the body when touched. They can be extremely painful and as they can also transfer the pain to nearby joints you may feel quite fatigued with having to cope with the constant pain. It’s possible that they are swollen and can lead to other problems, such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, stress or anxiety.
Don’t expect them to get better overnight, this is something you’ll need to work at…
A great way to start is by applying heat directly to the affected area. This will cause the capillaries to dilate, which in turn will increase the blood flow to the area… This can be an effective way of getting knots to relax.
Use heat pads on the affected area, this will often give some very quick results, and can sometimes stop the pain altogether if you catch it in time.
Stretching and exercising can also help greatly as it will help to relax the muscle and allow it to go back into its elongated
state and pull out the knot… This will also increase the blood flow to the area.
Posture also plays a vital role here, so all ofthe above comments on this subject definitely apply here too.
Have a good massage to help get rid of knots in your shoulders caused by crocheting.
Massaging the muscle is also a very effective
way to increase blood flow and get the
muscle to relax.
Numbness Or Pins And Needles In The Fingers When Crocheting
I had this myself and was quite concerned about it so I went to the docs to get it checked out.
For me, it was in my left hand (I’m right handed) the tips of the two fingers nearest to my thumb would sometimes feel numb, but at the same time they would have a tingling to them, a bit like pins and needles. Then I started getting pain travelling up my wrist and into my forearm. Well I’d heard the stories about getting pain in your left arm when you have a heart attack, so obviously I jumped straight to that conclusion!
I’m sure you can imagine how relieved I was when I was told it was nothing to do with my heart! PHEEWWW!!!
Once again, it was caused by sitting at a desk for long periods of time with poor posture. There really is a theme going on here isn’t there… It seems that poor posture is the cause of a lot of our problems with pain, so it’s vital that we get this sorted because it can save us a lot of worry and of course, pain.
I was sent for some physiotherapy…
I had 5 sessions of therapy, but I could notice an improvement after the first time I went. The physiotherapist also put strong adhesive bandages around my shoulders to help keep my shoulders pulled back. She told me about some great back supports that I could also buy online which I bought and have never had this problem return since.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
Repetitive strain injury in your hands and wrist caused by crochet.
The name, Repetitive Strain Injury, speak for itself really… Strain caused by making the same, or similar movements over and over again. It doesn’t have to be big movements whilst carrying heavy objects… Just very small movements, like those we make whilst we crochet, or constant clicking on a mouse. If you suffer with pain in hands from crochet, there are lots of things you can do to prevent it.
RSI from crocheting, tends to manifest itself with pain in the fingers, wrists, elbow, shoulders and neck.
Once again, good ole posture plays a major part in preventing RSI… Try to keep your neck up straight, your elbows close to your body, hands and wrists in line with the forearms, and remember the cushions to rest your arms on (using the tips I’ve mentioned above).
As you crochet, try to keep movements to a minimum, try not to twist your hands so much. I’ve changed my crochet technique many times so if one particular techniques starts to feel uncomfortable, I’ll change it. For example, Instead of turning my wrist, I might start rolling the hook between my forefinger and thumb. Find different ways to crochet that work best for you.
I’ve taught a lot of people to crochet, some as complete beginners and others that are not quite so new to it but want to take their skill levels up a notch or two. A common problem that I see on a regular basis is with the hand they hold their yarn, usually the left hand if they are a right handed crocheter. More specifically, the forefinger (the one nearest the thumb) of the yarn holding hand… When the yarn is wrapped over that finger and is used to help with tension control, I could see that they would stretch the forefinger back a long way… Whenever I asked if it was a comfortable position, they ALWAYS said no, it was painful. In fact, quite a few have said it’s what holds them back from doing more crochet, because it makes that finger hurt so much. I can completely understand why they hold their finger out, because they are trying to keep the tension right… But there is absolutely no need to stretch that finger at all… Just keep it low and relaxed. If you tend to do this and you find it uncomfortable, then give this a go, I’m sure you’ll be surprised at how this one little change can make a huge difference.
Don’t pull your index finger back too high when using it to feed the yarn over…. This picture shows how I hold my yarn.
I made some videos to teach absolute beginners how to crochet, in the very first one I give some tips on how to hold your yarn and hook so there is no tightness in your hands, everything flows nice and smoothly… Even if you’re a seasoned crocheter you might want to check out that video… You can find it>>>> here
If you start to feel pain whilst you crochet, then put your work down and walk away from it for a little while. Stretch your fingers out and then make a fist, do that several times…
Then stretch your arms and shoulders, do some shoulder rolls… Stretch your neck by slowly turning your head to look over one shoulder, and then slowly back to face forwards, then repeat to look over the other shoulder (don’t over stretch, it shouldn’t hurt to do this as it’s just a gently stretch). Pull your chin inwards towards your chest without bending your neck… Repeat these exercises several times… Stop immediately if it starts to hurt.
If you still experience pain when you go back to your crochet project, then you may need to rest from crochet for a longer period of time.
If RSI is left unchecked, what starts out as mild pain could well progress to a serious condition that can only be cured by resting for long periods of time or surgery. Obviously we all want to avoid that, so be mindful of all the points noted and catch any problems when they first occur.
What Is It?
My drawing, to give a visual explanation of Carpal tunnel Syndrome
There is a big nerve running along the wrist, up into the palm of the hand, this nerve it’s called the Median nerve, it runs through a short tunnel at the wrist… this tunnel also contains the tendons that bend the fingers and thumb. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), is when the Median nerve is compressed where it passes through that tunnel.
CTS may be associated with swelling in the tunnel wich could be caused by inflammation of the tendons, a fracture to the wrist, or possibly arthritis, although in most cases the cause is often unknown.
What Are The Symptoms of carpal tunnel?
The main symptom is a change in feeling in the hand, usually the thumb, and the 3 fingers nearest to the thumb… it’s unusual for it to affect the little finger.
Often people describe the change in feeling as tingling, which is usually worse at night or first thing in the morning.
It can be brought on by ‘gripping’ an object, especially if the hand is elevated, hence the reason crafters often suffer with CTS.
In the early stages of CTS, with tingling intermittently, symptoms will return to normal, but if the condition gets
worse, then it could well become continuous and may also go on to numbness in the fingers and thumb together with weakness and wasting of the muscles at the base of the thumb. There might also be pain in the wrist and forearm.
You may find it difficult to hold things like a mobile phone… and driving can also become a painful pastime.
What Is The Treatment For Carpal Tunnel?
Non-surgical treatments can include the use of splints… these are often worn at night, and possibly steroid injections.
When surgery is required this means opening up the top of the tunnel that the Median nerve runs through so as to reduce the pressure on the nerve.
After surgery, the tingling and pain usually disappear within a few days.
How To Cope With The Pain At Night (CTS)
Those of you that are living with the pain of Carpal tunnel, are probably being driven to distraction with the night time discomfort… Here are a few ideas that others have used to try to ease the pain…
First of all go to the doctor and get it checked out.
Wear a wrist brace when you go to bed.
Dangle your arm out of bed towards the floor, this is easier if you lay on your stomach.
Place your arm on a pillow, with another pillow on top of your arm.
Fill a hot water bottle with water and then place it in the freezer, when it’s frozen put a towel around it and rest your arm on it.
Try not to sleep with your wrist bent.
Some people have said that sleeping with their arms raised above their head has helped.
When you have your wrist brace on, try laying on your arm.
If you find that the Velcro on the brace snags on the bedding, try cutting a length out of a pair of tights and wearing it as a brace cover.
Use a heat pad to rest your arm on.
Cubital tunnel may sound similar to Carpal tunnel, but where CTS manifests itself in the wrist, Cubital tunnel syndrome is compression or irritation of the ulnar nerve, which is in a tunnel on the inside of the elbow.
This can become apparent with tingling or numbness in the little finger, or the finger next to it (the ring finger). There may be loss of strength and dexterity, with muscle loss noticeable on the back of the hand between the thumb and the finger
next to it.
This can also be intermittent, but lead to a constant problem if left unchecked.
Quite often the symptoms can be triggered by leaning on your elbow or holding it in a bent position for any length of time… such as when you’re talking on a phone.
What Causes Cubital Tunnel?
Apparently, most cases can arise without an obvious cause… However, in other cases the tunnel may be narrowed as the result of an old injury or arthritis of the elbow
How To Treat Cubital Tunnel?
Try to reduce the amount of time spent with your elbow bent… A very easy thing to change is to use a headset when talking on the phone.
Wear protective pads and try not to lean your elbows.
If you tend to sleep with your elbow bent, this can also trigger the symptoms, so try a different sleeping position… I know how difficult it can be to train yourself to sleep in a different position, I’m constantly trying to sleep on my back, but I end up laying awake with no chance of sleeping… I’ll keep trying.
If you still have a problem with not bending your elbow at night, try placing a folded towel around the area as that will then make it less likely you’ll bend it in your sleep.
Go and see your doctor to see if you would benefit from wearing a splint.
Hopefully you’ll catch it in time and with a few tweaks of the way you do things, it will clear up without the need for surgery.
Crochet With Arthritis
I feel very fortunate that (so far) I don’t suffer with arthritis! As I’ve already mentioned, I have had many conversations with fellow crafters about their pains, I discovered that a heck of a lot battle with pain caused by this condition!
If you already know you have arthritis and have had it confirmed by a doctor then you can start to manage it accordingly. If however, you haven’t been to the doctor to get it checked out yet, then I strongly suggest you do so. If you have read all the above symptoms for the different conditions then you will notice how similar a lot of them are, and arthritis is another one that can be confused with some of the above.
How Do I Know If I have Arthritis?
There are so many different types of arthritis, and it can manifest in a lot of different ways, so I’m going to refer you to what Wikipedia has to say on this subject
“Arthritis is a term
often used to mean any disorder that affects joints.
Symptoms generally include joint pain and stiffness. Other
symptoms may include redness, warmth, swelling, and decreased range
of motion of the affected joints. In some types other organs are also
affected. Onset can be gradual or sudden.”
There are over 100 types of arthritis. The most common forms are osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually occurs with age and affects the fingers, knees, and hips. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that often affects the hands and feet. Other types include gout, lupus, fibromyalgia, and septic arthritis. They are all types of rheumatic disease.”
Obviously it can be painful to continue to crochet (and do other types of crafts) if you have this condition, but it would be such a shame if you had to stop doing the craft you love because of it… so here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way to make it easier for you to crochet…
First of all, I have to say that crochet can actually help if you have arthritis… One of the things you should do is keep your joints mobile, so the movements you make whilst you crochet can help with this… As long as you don’t overdo it, make sure you stop when hands or wrists start aching.
Using Hemp Oil
What is hemp Seed OIl?
Hemp Seed Oil has been in the news quite a lot in recent years and has become quite vogue, it has however, been around for many years, having been first discovered in 1940.
As the name suggests, the oild comes from the seeds of the hemp plant.
You can find Hemp seed oil capsules on Amazon, so I suggest you check out the reviews and decide for yourself if you think this is a good option for you, but I personally know a lot of people that couldn’t continue to crochet without CBD oil.
You can also find CBD creams and ointments on Amazon which can I’m told can also help a great deal.
Do Magnetic Copper Bracelets Work?
To find out if magnetic copper bracelets do actually work, I would have to say, you really need to try them for yourself. Some people absolutely swear by them and have said that they have literally been life changing by helping with pain relief. Whilst others that have tried them and said they had no effect at all.
This is a really pretty copper bracelet that I bought from Amazon. I think it looks really elagant with the lovely rope detail on it.
These copper bracelets are often a first port of call when people that are suffering pain from arthritis start looking around to see what’s out there that can help. They are quite inexpensive to buy, and of course we all want something that will be a quick and easy fix for our problems.
This type of remedy for arthritis pain (and other types of pain) has been a popular folklore for thousands of years… but like many of these health remedies it has been one that has been in and out of favour over the centuries.
Can wearing a simple magnetic copper band on your wrist actually help relieve pain? And if so, how?
Well the theory is that tiny amounts of copper rub off the bracelet and onto the skin, which is then absorbed into the body. It is claimed that the copper helps regenerate joint cartilage that has been lost due to arthritis… This in turn helps cure the condition which then relieves the pain.
The basic idea is that if you place magnets against the skin, it will then make the iron in the blood move around the affected area more, and better blood circulation is good because it helps to deliver nutrients to the joints.
I recently read an article that was published in PLOS ONE about a trial that was done on whether copper magnetic bracelets actually work or not. Extensive tests were done in the study and 70 people suffering with Rheumatoid Arthritis each wore four different devices, each for 5 weeks at a time…
- A magnetic wrist strap
- A copper bracelet
- A wrist strap with a very weak magnetic field
- A demagnetized strap
Neither the participants or the researchers knew which devices were being worn, or when.
“The results showed no improvements, beyond the placebo effect, for the magnetic bands or copper bracelets in any of the outcomes measured, which included joint swelling and tenderness, physical function, and
inflammation (measured by blood tests).”
Having said all that, like I said previously, I know a lot of people that feel they get real benefit from wearing these copper magnetic bracelets… I for one, wouldn’t argue with that!
A good pair of compression gloves can feel like they work miracles for arthritis sufferers.
These Comfy Brace Arthritis Hand Compression Gloves are on Amazon, and they are super comfy to wear and light, so not too cumbersome to wear… and although the finger ends are open, to make it easier to work with them on… They still cover all the knuckles to give a good constant pressure.
My friends that use these ALL say they highly recommend people try them.
Other Remedies That May Help Relieve Pain Whilst You Crochet
I’ve been keeping a note of the different things I’ve been told help with pain relief, so at least you will have some idea of what works for other people and they may help you to be able to continue to crochet.
There’s Biofreeze gel and Biofreeze roll–on … I have personally tried these, and both are excellent for instant pain relief… There is also a spray on version, but I haven’t personally tried the spray… As the name suggests, it cools the area where it’s applied and really does give some respite from the pain.
The roll-on is really handy for carrying around in your pocket or handbag for when you need pain relief on the go… With the roll-on version, you don’t need to get it on your fingers when you apply it, so a win win with this one.
It’s great for using on painful fingers, wrists, neck, back, shoulders, in fact most places where you get pain (don’t use on intimate areas or around the eyes)… it’s also great for using to help relieve headaches, you just rub it onto your forehead and temples for it to start working.
There is no real odour with Biofreeze, and it’s not sticky.
This gets my top vote and is my go-to pain relief first time, every time… I had it recommended to me about 12 years ago when I was suffering with pains in my back, I bought it then and was so impressed with the effects I’m been using it and recommending
it ever since.
Wearing stress relief gloves that are shorter in the fingers like these Lyon Brand Yarm ones that are on Amazon, are really good for using whilst you crochet, as they allow the muscles in your hand to relax, yet still leaving the fingers free to work on your project.
Turmeric is a spice that is commonly known for using in curries, this is one that gives the yellow
colouring. But there is a key chemical in turmeric called Curcumin, this has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits and is a strong antioxidant.
It is know that taking turmeric capsules has many health benefits, but here we are just going to touch on how it can help with pain reduction for people that love to crochet.
Many people have discovered the benefits of taking turmeric capsules as they have given some fantastic result in reducing pain and inflammation and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
Using Ergonomic Hooks
It can be very difficult to work with thin hooks if you already have problems with your hands or fingers. In fact, using thin hooks can be the root cause of the pain if you didn’t have it before.
Now obviously this can be a really big problem, but help is at hand (unintended pun) with ergonomic crochet hooks.
Rubber Pencil Grips To Use On Your Hooks.
Rubber pencil grips are a great way to add some thickness to your crochet hooks, making it much easier to grip them without your hand cramping up.
These rubber grips on Amazon, are made to use with pencils, but they also work a treat for us crocheters. Slip them onto the handles of your crochet hooks to give extra thickness. They work best on the aluminium type of crochet hooks, but they will also fit on some other types.
Please remember that if you are using any type of pain relief, it might not have healed it completely, it may just be masking the problem, so always talk to your doctor about any problems you may have
Do you have any other tips to stop pain whilst crocheting? Leave a message in the comments, then I can add it to the list on this page so we can help as many people as possible continue to crochet without fear of pain… Or at least with less pain.
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