Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Stitching

This blog post has been sitting in my mind for awhile now. I’m sure you noticed my recent lack of posts… that has been because my carpal tunnel is flared up quite a lot lately. I even had to write this blog post in shifts, so I haven’t been stitching. And the truth is that makes me really sad and very frustrated, literally. Stitching is very therapeutic for me, it’s my stress relief and relaxation. I tend to get a little cranky when I’m not stitching.

A bit about of history here. My “day job” is as a transcriptionist and I also run a few niche websites online, which of course means lots of typing and mouse clicking during the day. When I get to my downtime I want to stitch, but I also know that I need to rest my wrist at least a little bit, or I’m already too uncomfortable to do any stitching. People always assume that I ended up with carpal tunnel because of stitching or typing, and it was neither. I first developed the injury way back in 1998 running a rivet machine on an assembly line. That’s not to say that stitching and typing were innocent in the matter, but they were not the cause.

I don’t know if it’s been the weather or why it’s been so aggravated lately, but it is making me quite the miserable person. And that got me thinking I can’t be the only one with this crazy problem happening. The doctors have offered up pain killers and surgery options, both of which I declined for now. Pain killers make me feel like a doofus during the day and I’m afraid I’ll be one of the people whose wrist feels worse after surgery than it did beforehand (and that seems to be a large percentage of people.)

I’ve always done exercises to help with the carpal tunnel symptoms … and here’s a video that might help you if you are experiencing this:

In addition to doing various exercises I have two different wrist braces, one that is softer and more flexible (Imak Smart Glove ) that I use when I’m at the computer and typing. I can’t type for very long without wearing it. Then I also have a firm brace that I wear on really bad days and occasionally at night after a really long day of working on something, and sometimes when I am stitching, that is an ACE Deluxe Wrist Stabilizer with the metal bar to keep things in place. (Note about the wrist stabilizer: There’s another brand that looks very much like the Ace, but it is not as high quality and the fabric on the off brand one is quite itchy!)


These are the two products I mentioned above that I own that I use every day:

A few quick stitching tips I’ve learned over the years with this issue….
Stitching with a floor or lap stand helps greatly because you don’t have to try to grip the hoop or q-snap. If you can get used to stitch two-handed (one hand on top, one hand on the bottom) all the better, there’s almost no bending and turning of your wrist that way.

We talked about using a stitching stand in this post quite a bit: Stitchqueries, Do you use a stitching stand?

The most important thing is to listen to your body if you are experiencing symptoms of numbness or pain in your wrist, hand, or arm. Our bodies give us these signals for a reason and it’s a good idea to pay attention. If symptoms continue on a regular basis, mention it to your doctor and discuss possible causes and treatments.

I hope this information has been helpful to you. I would also very much like to hear from you if you are experiencing carpal tunnel symptoms. Leave a comment below and share your tips with us, ask a question, or just add a “me too” to the conversation with your story.

Happy (and hopefully pain free) Stitching!
Loretta

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About Loretta Oliver

I’ve been a cross stitcher since I was 8 years old. It was something I learned as a Girl Scout when we did a project for a badge related to crafts and the group choose to cross stitch a holiday design on a red sweatshirt using waste canvas. (Talk about hard first project, that was such a pain!) I was one of the first ones finished and I’ve had a needle in my hand almost every day since then.

Comments

  1. Tammy via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    I know what it is like to suffer with Carpal Tunnel. Not fun. Hope you get relief again soon.

  2. I can totally understand and sympathize with you.

  3. I too have problems with my wrist/hand. Whether its from stitching (for close to 20 years now) or typing (working 45 hours a week) I really don’t know. What I do know is that it would take a LOT of pain for me to consider surgery.

    While walking through a hospital to meet my mom after her surgery someone stopped me in the hallway. I had my stitching in a clear plastic bag. The woman asked me about it and told me how she used to love cross stitching. Then she developed carpal tunnel. She opted for surgery and hadn’t been able to stitch since. As she walked away she told me if they ever suggest surgery–don’t do it.

    on the flip side my hair stylist had the surgery earlier this year. She said she’s been kicking herself for waiting so long to have it done.

    I guess the key is to make sure you have a really great surgeon. Personally, I wear my soft wrist brace 98% of the time I’m stitching. Not so much at work, but during bad times I will. Stitching is my sanity.

    • That is exactly how I feel! It’s been a really bad week for me, the pain is making me crazy but not enough to consider the surgery yet. I’ve had so many people tell me they regretted the surgery and can’t do things afterwards, I don’t want to take that chance. I’d rather need a Motrin now and then and still be able to work and stitch than to go through that.

  4. So sorry that you’re hurting. Very not cool. I’ve worried about getting this, too, but so far, so good. *knockwood* I can really relate to your frustration – it can just suck sometimes, being at the mercy of pains we can get rid of. A friend of mine in Dallas – one of the Punkymoms – just finally had her surgery done a week or so ago. She’d actually talked about it for years. I hope it works out for her – I didn’t realize it could be worse – or still bad – afterwards. Ugh.

    Love the way you turned this post around to be helpful – that’s awesome!!

  5. Phil via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    Am there. Not sure if this will help but what I use is called Mobic which is sort of like high powered Motrin and must be a script. Also I have found that positioning my hands at night when I sleep helps a LOT. In my case the wrist has to be raises a bit as if I were typing and the hand around pillow or other object that lets it curve like I am holding a large ball palm size. If I don’t do that, I sometimes wake and am missing a hand. By that I mean it is absolutely numb no feeling at all. Also sticking them under the electric blanket works wonders too.

    • I find that heat actually aggravates it more if it’s flared up (but heat is good for my arthritis, so it’s a toss up of what part of my hand I want to be comfortable that day!)

  6. Amy via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    I type on the computer all day as well at work. Every now & then I get a pinch here & there but luckily nothing too bad. I think I have my keyboard and mouse set at good heights and angles & that helps!

    • That’s a good tip Amy! ~ having your keyboard and mouse shelf at the right height is really important too. You should adjust your chair height if you’re an awkward angle, it will also help prevent you from getting symptoms.

  7. I tend to take a more holistic approach to aches and pains, especially chronic aches and pains. Have you tried high doses of Vitamin C? Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant and it works as a natural anti-inflammatory without the stomach upset caused by motrin.

    • I’ve used garlic as an anti-inflammatory, but I don’t think I’ve used VitC as of yet. Definitely making a note of that.

  8. Thanks Loretta for the brace recommendations! I too have carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, had the surgery in both hands (TWICE) and will not have that surgery again. After two years unemployed, I finally found a job as in a doctor’s clinic registering patients…so I’m on the computer more! And decided to pick up my passion for sewing by incorporating cross stitching, knitting and sewing clothes for my grand-daughter. So yeah, my wrists are painful. However, “moderation” is the key word here. I find if I take a night off from stitching or stitch for a limited amount of time, I can continue with one of my favorite pastimes without eliminating the “sewing bug” all together…which I did 10 years ago.

  9. Stay Safe Loretta!

  10. I feel your pain. I don’t know if I have carpal, but I get sharp pains in my wrist every so often. I think I bought the Ace brace you like to help. I had work get an ergonomic keyboard for me and last Christmas I received a lap stand as a gift. Both have helped tremendously. I’ve been putting off a Christmas Santa stitching because it is on perforated paper and I’m just dreading having to grip the paper for so long.

  11. Hi Loretta, I have to wear a soft wrist and hand support thing when I stitch, knit or crochet. My wrist tends to go numb, then ache. I also use Icy Hot to help the pain, as I don’t like pain killers. Thanks for posting about carpal tunnel syndrome.

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