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What to do when your shoulder blows out

Unfortunately, this is a very real question!  I’ve had a shoulder issue off and on for a couple of years, but with knitting + computers for the last couple of months, my right arm is often pretty useless these days.  Not just my shoulder, but my elbow, wrist and hand are now affected.  Yay, repetitive stress!

Ice doesn’t work great this late in the game.

Motrin is awesome, but I don’t particularly want to eat motrin like candy all day long.

So here’s what I’ve done/am doing:

  1. Stabilizing my arm and elbow as much as possible using cushions when working at home.
  2. Wearing a wrist brace.
  3. Talking with my MD about physical therapy.
  4. NOT knitting as much.
  5. Yep, you read that right.  I can’t knit.  It’s agonizing to knit – seriously unreal pain – and agony NOT to knit.  🙁
  6. Looking into an ergonomic mouse for my laptop (the touchpad involves some serious pain).
  7. Lots of breaks and stretches.
  8. Trying to be kind to myself.


Ideally, if you are suddenly experiencing shoulder/wrist/hand pain, you talk with your MD right away.  Take it very very seriously.  Repetitive stress injuries can become so serious that your only alternative is surgery.  Icing those injuries during the first 24 hours is immensely helpful.

So … I’m knitting in tiny, tiny chunks.  My hand knits shop no longer has “knit on order” accessories – I’ve only listed the goods that are ready to ship (I hope, unless I missed one or two).  I can still work with clay, but it’s slow going, so I’m crossing my paws that this isn’t also affected.

Have you had to deal with repetitive stress pain/injuries?  Any suggestions/solutions for the rest of us?

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Melissa March 3, 2011, 5:52 AM


    I’ve spent the past three years working in an ER and Surgery…the absolutely BEST ice pack in the world is homemade…mix 1/4 c rubbing alcohol to 3/4 c water in a ziploc bag and freeze…this should be very slushy, if not, add more water…it’s gets colder than you can possibly imagine and stays cold much much longer than regular ice packs AND is not as hard as ice packs, so it’s more kind to sore areas…this recipe is from a sports med doc. (I can personally recommend it, I’ve been using it for the past year after getting kicked by a horse to my foot and ankle caused a “crushing injury”, everytime my ankle and foot swell, I get out the my “ice pack” and the relief is almost immediate)…on new and old injuries and even arthritis, I apply the bag on the affected area for 15 min. every hour…

    I’ve also heard that pure castor oil used regularly on arthritis is supposed to help…don’t know if it would help your problem…

    And, yes, be kind to yourself!

    • brenda March 3, 2011, 4:08 PM

      I worked in an ER too … and didn’t know about the homemade ice pack formula! Thank you, Melissa! Definitely trying that out tonight! 😀

  • Melissa March 3, 2011, 5:53 AM

    sending you prayers…

  • Kepanie March 3, 2011, 7:14 AM

    Brenda, I’m okay when I knit. It’s the computer mouse that bugs my right wrist and arm. I bought some Thera Gloves from here: http://www.theraglove.com/products.html and it helps a lot. I suggested them to my dentist and to Susan B. Anderson.

    • brenda March 3, 2011, 4:06 PM

      Oh thank you! I’ll be checking that out right now!!!

  • Elena March 3, 2011, 7:46 AM

    Brenda, so sorry you haven’t been feeling well! I don’t have medical advice to give, per se, but physical therapy is definitely worth considering. You may be able to start out exercising with a therapist and after some time go home with exercises you can do on your own, etc.

    And, by all means, be kind to yourself! Things to consider in this quieter time for your hands — teaching kids or adults the techniques you’ve developed — with knitting or clay. Gather inspiration from nature and other craft media and art for when you are feeling better.

    Take care of yourself! Sending you warm get well thoughts,

    • brenda March 3, 2011, 4:05 PM

      I just am hoping to avoid the need for regular (long) trips (in Bay Area traffic) to PT … but it sounds like that will be my reality! Thx, Elena! xo

  • Cat March 3, 2011, 3:46 PM

    Brenda- have you ever used this book:


    It is not just for restricted carpal tunnels- I use it for my neck, shoulder, elbow, finger problems- it is a series of movements that you hold until you feel the stretch- I do them several times a day while chronic and while icing and then just once in awhile when I am feeling better.

    It focuses on unsticking fascial tissue. I was told years ago I would need surgery on my elbows for ulnar nerve entrapment that was causing numbness and tingling in my fingers, forearms and elbows, but this has kept the surgery away.

    Take care of yourself Brenda and yes, lots of breaks and good thoughts!

    xo- Cat 🙂

    • brenda March 3, 2011, 3:55 PM

      Cat, I haven’t seen that book – totally on it with thanks! Hope you’re doing OK! xo Brenda

  • Sharon Hanson March 4, 2011, 8:39 AM

    Sorry to hear about your repetitive stress issues. Take care so that you get better soon.

  • penny April 5, 2011, 2:16 PM

    Oh,dear. I seem to have injured myself throught knitting,too.
    The most horrible pain just below my shoulder at the back and down my arm.
    If me and my knitting are parted I take no responsibility for my bad temper.

    • brenda April 6, 2011, 9:12 AM

      I’m so sorry, Penny! I’m with you – I get cranky when I’m not able to knit, too! 🙂

  • Beth clawson May 25, 2012, 10:58 AM

    I have been getting pain in my palms with my latest knitting project–a garter stitch
    shawl. I’ve wondered if knitting every row is part of the problem. When I purl I hold my arms and needles differently.

    Regarding computer use: I used a trackball at my former job (am now a stay at home mom for the next few years). About 4 years ago my right hand and arm were getting horribly painful. I switched the trackball over tO the left side and saw a big difference in the right hand and arm. Of course, learning to control the trackball with my left hand was a huge hurdle–and my coworkers who sometimes used my machine were totally flummoxed by the lefthand side trackball–but the learning curve was less excruitating than the arm pain.

  • brenda May 28, 2012, 8:34 PM

    That’s an interesting thought on garter stitch and palm pain, Beth! I’m sure you’re on to something.

    I find that if I’m doing a lot of intensive computer work, wrist and hand pain is totally dependent on position + mousing (I haven’t used a track ball for awhile – started hurting quite a bit to use!). I’m so NOT left handed though – not sure I could jump that hurdle – good for you! 🙂

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