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Thread: Quilting with arthritis?

  1. #1

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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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    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

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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.

  11. #11
    Super Member jbsstrawberry's Avatar
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    Don't forget, the more you use your fingers the longer you'll have them. Inactivity can cause arthritis to progress more rapidly depending on the type you have. Regardless, exercise helps, at least thats what my rheumatologist told me. Also, he advised me to eat a bit (in severe moderation) of dark chocolate each day. 1/2 ounce or less, it will help stay off arthritis and in my case will boost my meds, which don't work as well as they use to. When it hurts too much, stop, rest. You just have to find the right amount of usage for you to keep them moving, and not over do and cause a flairup.

  12. #12
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    I have RA and find that sometimes quilting makes me feel better and other times much worse! My husband bought me a beautiful Husquavana Viking quilting maching that makes it so easy to glide the fabric through. I also use thick cutting tools but my husband does alot of my cutting for me. I give him my small applique stuff while he's in front of the tv! Don't be freaked out, all you have to do is figure out the best way for you to do the things you want or need to do. Invest in the tools that will help you and you will be able to keep quilting! Good Luck! :P

  13. #13
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Another thought Moonhoney, it may be akward at first but try to use the mouse with your left hand. I try to use both of my hands equally to take the strain off of my right hand. :D

  14. #14

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    moonhoney2, if it's the computer that seems to be giving you fits, maybe you could try a different keyboard, like one of those spread out ones? I've found a "wrist rest" works well at keeping my entire hand at the same level, there by less fatique.

    The other thing you might try is a different mouse. Perhaps a touch sensitive one? Or perhaps if that is the kind you use you might go to the store and see what kinds they have that "fit" your hand, it used to be only one or two brands "fit" but now they are all doing it and for not much money. Before I started using a laptop all the time, (with the touch sensitive pad) I had a wrist rest for my mouse as well. One of the gel ones that has the attached mouse pad. LOL I had TWO one for work and one for home.

  15. #15

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    I was diagnosed with OA when I was 37. In my feet of all things. Now I am 70 and have it in most of my joints including my hands, which on some days are very painful. Take each day at a time because no two days are the same. I have been taking Glucosomine and Chondroitin for some time and have just recently started taking Rose Hip as an anti inflammatory. There was a very intersting programme on the radio about this from the Arthritis Research. Keep smiling. Sylvia

  16. #16
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    You have my sympathy - had rheumatoid arthritis for over 10 yrs. My left hand is the worst problem - I am left handed. My hands are pretty bent - the fingers all going towards the little finger.
    Good tip to learn to use the mouse with both hands. I have spring loaded scissors and the are great.
    I cannot knit at all, hand sewing is not easy so I limit that. I have just worked and worked at making my machine do it all for me. The best answer is to keep on trying and trying and looking for ways to make each task easier.
    Jane

  17. #17

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    I also was recently diagnoised and find I have a lot of trouble after using computer .

    Friend told me about using a bag filled with beans (small navy beans are best) and they conform around your wrist and aleaves the pain.

    This has helped me a lot. Can also be filled with rice. but i found the beans to conform and hold the best.

    Linda

  18. #18
    Super Member mimisharon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbsstrawberry
    Don't forget, the more you use your fingers the longer you'll have them. Inactivity can cause arthritis to progress more rapidly depending on the type you have. Regardless, exercise helps, at least thats what my rheumatologist told me. Also, he advised me to eat a bit (in severe moderation) of dark chocolate each day. 1/2 ounce or less, it will help stay off arthritis and in my case will boost my meds, which don't work as well as they use to. When it hurts too much, stop, rest. You just have to find the right amount of usage for you to keep them moving, and not over do and cause a flairup.
    Absolutely the truth! I've had arthritis in my spine since I was 19. If I lie down or sit to long, I can't move around very well at all. My hands have 'arther' but I've never stopped using them to hand quilt, to hand sew things and embroider. Some days I can only take a stitch or two, and I use a lot of 'helper tools' to pull the needle through, gloves to hold the fabric, lots of different size hoops, and I take the glousamine. Some nights I wake in the middle of the night with tears and hands that won't open and close well, but I keep workin' them because the one thing all the doctors have said is "if you stop using any part of your body it will quit working at all" so I'm in charge right at the moment. I don't have RA, I have the OA. It's nothing to worry you or stop your planning for the future over. I've lived 41 years with it and I'm still walking, working on quilting and crochet. I'll keep you in my prayers!
    Sharon

  19. #19
    Super Member Joan's Avatar
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    Give the glucosamine (sp?) at try, it really has helped me. You need to take for about six weeks before you'll notice a difference. (I give it to my old Lab, 12 years old, upon advice of her vet, too)

  20. #20

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    Hello everyone! I had a blood test the other day because I woke up last Sunday with stiff fingers. My Dr. says it's possible RA, but wants x-rays to confirm. The diagnosis didn't bother me when he told me yesterday, but after sleeping on it I had some concerns. I LOVE TO QUILT! I recently retired so of course something had to get me :=)! Anyway, I live alone, but am pretty good about adapting, so I plan to sew and quilt FOREVER! I found this site this morning and I must say. . .IT'S WONDERFUL!!! Thanks to all of you for your sage advice. FYI, there are some good hand exercises at Mayoclinic.com. I found these the other day. They're visuals w/dialog below. Very helpful, I think. I live in Northern California.

  21. #21
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    get the book "RX for Quilters" It may have some useful information.

  22. #22

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    Thanks so much!

  23. #23
    Junior Member grandma1's Avatar
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    I have RA diagnosed 5 yrs ago, what my phsyical therapist taught me is ( if you have double kitchen sinks) to fill one sink with as hot a water as you can stand, and the other with cold cold water. Then start with putting your hands in the hot water for 30 sec while wiggling your fingers . Then tranfer to cold water doing the same for 30 sec, go back and forth for total of ten min. It tricks the nerves into thinking theres nothing wrong. I do this three times a day, really helps with the quilting. Good luck to anyone who has any type of arthritis, and don't let it get the best of you. :thumbup:

  24. #24

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    FABULOUS ADVICE! Thank you so much!

  25. #25
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    also wear a wrist brace at times. even if only at night while sleeping. they do help.

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