Dealing with RSI…and, meet Pippin

Good news – as of today, my RSI treatment plan dictates that I can knit again! OK, in theory, although I do have some pain as I type this and should probably not knit for a few more days, so that’s actually the plan.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I’d like to introduce you to Pippin d’Artagnan the Dire-Hamster*. He is my new furry boy! JS got him for me this weekend, and although he is not yet tame enough to cuddle me, I love him and the amount of attitude he has so much. I’m updating his Facebook album everyday, and this is public, so feel free to have a gander!

Pippin d'Artagnan the Dire-Hamster, a furry boy with a serious attitude!
Pippin d’Artagnan the Dire-Hamster, a furry boy with a serious attitude!

Dealing with RSI

So in my last post on this subject, I talked about what RSI is and how to prevent getting it (mostly). I had so many people offering advice on actually coping with it, including an osteopath, that I thought it would be a good thing to post a follow-up article on how to deal with it once you actually have it.

The first thing to say is if you suddenly notice any of the symptoms I described last time, you must stop knitting immediately. Don’t even finish your row – I did, and by the end of the row I was in so much pain I was almost in tears. Even if the symptom is a just a throb, or a tiny bit of cramp that goes away, don’t take any chances; stop immediately.

Then, take a rest day. That’s right, a day where you don’t even pick your needles up. If it still hurts the next day, take another day. You want to keep resting until you have had at least a day symptom-free. This is hard, trust me, I know all about it. But, in the long run, it is for the better.

When you do go back to your knitting, don’t just go straight back into hours and hours of hard-core work. Let’s face it – you haven’t got RSI because you do a few minutes here and there; but to ensure a good recovery, you need to pretend that you are a person who can knit a row, then put it down and wander off to do something else.

So, while you are resting, what strategies can you employ to aid your recovery and ease discomfort? In this photo, straight after the diagnosis, you can see I am wearing a wrist brace. In general, this is actually inadvisable unless you are asleep – if you brace your wrist during the day, you cut down on the blood flow and activity in the muscles, which is essential for healing, and you can cause more damage than good. It does provide some immediate comfort though, so if the pain is really almost unbearable, I do recommend it. I had to wear it for two days (and this was all because I refused to stop in the middle of a VERY LONG row when my fingers started seizing up).

Wrist brace following doctor's advice.
Wrist brace following doctor’s advice.

Sleeping with a brace can help, as it stops your wrist getting bent into funny positions while you sleep.

Icing the area also helps. The most drastic solution that I found on Ravelry came from Joshua Tucker. This is outlined below:

  1. Freeze several two litre bottles of ice.
  2. Fill kitchen sink with water and put frozen bottles in it.
  3. Over several hours, dip your pained arm in the ice-bath up to the elbow, for five to ten seconds.
  4. Do this at least ten times over the course of two hours.
  5. Do this for seven days at least.

Having spoken to my new osteopath friend, another recommendation was that you can buy a spray to keep the affected area cool. You can get these anywhere – UK readers will be able to find them in Boots – and they are fab for using at work. I will ‘fess up and say that I did not go straight out and buy one – but that has a lot to do with the state of my bank account, rather than my desire to heal myself!

My new osteopath friend also recommended yoga! I was doing yoga, but the aforementioned bank account has been stopping that. I will get back into it, I will. A large part of this is posture, and ensuring you have the best posture for your spine, muscles and circulation. Mine is terrible. I slouch, I hang my head off my shoulders, my back is never in the correct position…and I am trying to sort it out.

To sort it out, I have new lumbar support in my chair at work and everytime I think about my shoulders, I pull them back a bit. I need to pull my tummy in and just think about it a bit more. A few days of increased awareness has made some difference, I am pleased to report…

Lynda from the Kettle Yarn Co sent me this link, which has the below diagram from Interweave Crochet in it. A simple few stretches which make a huge difference. I don’t know why, but they just work.

Wrist exercise

I have personally found doing things other than knitting very helpful. I did some sewing this weekend, on my machine to prevent any pains, and made a bag. I did some cooking. I watched some Olympics. Anything and everything to distract myself from not being able to knit, especially when I have deadlines looming. It has been so tempting to give in temptation and just knit, but I am proud to say that I haven’t.

I’m not through this just yet, as much as I wish I could say I am. I might try doing some crochet to see if that is pain-free…I have read somewhere that arnica gel can help, and that sugar in your diet can exacerbate the condition. Rubber bands can be used to strengthen muscles and hot massage can help. How much of this is actually true, and how much is just internet hearsay, I am not entirely sure – so my option at this point is to go back to the doctor tomorrow and see what he thinks.

That’s all from me for now. Keep letting me know if you have any ideas!

Much love,

Corrie xx

* Pippin (Lord of the Rings) d’Artagnan (the Three Musketeers) the Dire-Hamster (A Song of Ice and Fire). I’m a true geek, me.

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One Response to Dealing with RSI…and, meet Pippin

  1. I have used arnica a lot in similar situations and it has worked. I would use it over all other medication now. You can buy it as cream and in tablet form. Hope you can manage to keep away from the needles for long enough to allow healing :)

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