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Thread: Quilting with arthritis?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2008
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    My right hand has been bothering me for a little while now. Some days I'll wake up and it's a bit swollen. but within a couple hours, it's back to normal.

    But these last couple weeks, my fingers have been a bit sore. I figured it was because I click all day on my mouse.

    Went to the dr today and he was shocked at how swollen my fingers were and said yes, it's arthritis. Suggested I take glucosomine (sp) since it's int he beginning stages.

    I was wondering, is this going to severely affect me in the future with quilting? I don't want to invest loads of money in the craft if one day I'm going to find myself not able to do it.

    I don't' do hand sewing/quilting, but was hoping to learn it one day. One day, I was hoping to get a large quilting machine to start a quilting business from home. I'm wondering if I should just keep an eye on today and not plan too far into the future.

    This is very new to me so I'm a bit freaked out by his diagnosis. :(

  2. #2
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I have had issues with my hands beginning when I was 18 yrs old. I eventually got to the point in my 40's that I could not do hand work anymore, but I can do most what ever I want using a sewing machine. You learn to adapt, take frequent breaks some days, use "helper" tools, etc... Use your whole hand whenever possible, not just your thumb and index finger, find rubberized tools so that you do not have to grip them as hard, there have been a lot of other tips on this site too, written by others with arthritis/other health issues. Talk to your doctor, there is usually a balance with arthritis between not over doing it and using those joints enough to keep them from freezing up more, unnecessarily. I would not stop making plans for the future, based solely on this diagnosis.

  3. #3
    Super Member DA Mayer's Avatar
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    I just found out it is in my fingers also. My dr suggested fish oil capsules, he thought it worked a little better than the other, has a positive effect on the heart also... Hopefully you aren't incapacitated so you can continue to quilt

  4. #4
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    I can't do hand work anymore - just barely can do the handwork for bindings (but somebody on here told me to sew the binding on the back side, bring around and stitch on machine with fancy stitch instead of sew on the front, take to back and hand stitch)

    anyway, I use GOOD rotary cutters, sew everything on the machine, pin 'baste' and stipple or meander on the machine.... the one most important hint I can give you about stippling is wear some rubberized garden gloves (wallyworld for less than three dollars) - it is AMAZING how much that helps with holding and moving the quilt - it's like night and day...

    especially with the machine quilting I take lots of breaks but I eventually get it done...

    believe me, we all get 'freaked' by one diagnosis or another :roll:
    I got freaked when I got a 'letter' from our insurance company all about 'how to deal with a chronic disease'.... geez....

  5. #5
    Senior Member QuiltinLee's Avatar
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    I have arthritis and a friend told me to take cherry capsules (2 caps x 3 times a day). I've only been taking them a couple of weeks and have been able to quit taking my prescription for arthritis (knock on wood).

  6. #6

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    amma is exactly right, look around for "helper tools" I have shears not scissors, Friskars makes the pair I have, which is endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation, they are spring loaded so no "thumb" work. But as Janeen said rotary cutters, whenever possiable. I'm sure they have some that "feel good" in your hand. And here's a tip, Joann's is GREAT about returns. If it's comfortable in the store but not at home, take them back right way. Don't live with the ones that hurt!~ :D

    I've found cutting and ironing/pressing is the worst for me. I'm not to the point that I'm looking for a lightweight iron, but I'm sure I'll get there.

    Hand sewing is out for me. Oh my, hand sewing gets me so bad I can't do anything with my hands for at least a week, and then it's special meds ect. I CAN sew on a button or two. But I don't like to push it.

  7. #7

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    May 2008
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    Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I'll look into the special tools as time goes on. Right now, it just hurts when I use the computer. But it came on so quick. Just in the last couple weeks. *sigh* The swelling was there on occasion before, the the pain just started.

    But I'll look forward to quilting for a while yet, even if I have to give up on learning hand quilting. I wasn't so sure about that anyway. I'm too impatient. :lol:

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Sometimes it depends on what type of arthritis you have. RA and OA
    are managed differently. Good luck and keep on quilting as long as you
    are able.

  9. #9
    Senior Member redrummy's Avatar
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    I was diagnosed at age 17 with RA. My grandmother put herself into a nursing home in her early 60's because her fingers were so distorted from it. Be diligent with the meds to keep it in control, and like the others offered, try other remedys as long as they don't conflict with the prescription meds. When my hands bother me, I use an ice pack for 15 mins, them a hot pack (preferably moist heat) for 15 mins. repeat both, for a total of an hour. I wrap it around my arm above the elbow. A Dr. told me that trick, he said it confuses the nerves into settling down for awhile. I thought he was crazy when he told me, but it has worked for me. I still have some bad days, but I do hand sew, hand quilt, and enjoy it. I used to knit alot and crochet, but I had to choose, and chose quilting. I used to think it was the second worst diagnosis I could imagine, (with loss of eyesight being the worst). Then last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Arthritis is a cake walk for me compared!!!!! But since I have beat it, so far!!!!, I am going to continue quilting.

  10. #10
    Super Member sewmuch's Avatar
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    RE: fish oil capsules. I recently started taking them for high cholesterol per my Dr.s orders, so maybe they will help my hands too. They are ok now, but in the winter they bother me.

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