View Full Version : Pain when knitting

10-27-2007, 09:35 PM
I knit English. When I knit, I sort of make like a Peace sign with the index and middle fingers and they hold the tip of the needle with the thumb while the ring and pinkie finger on my left hand hold the needle to keep stitches from slipping. Does that make sense?

Well basically, when I've been knitting for a while, my hand starts hurting, specially the ring finger part on the back of my hand. I wonder if anyone else has this problem or any other hand problems? What do you do to relieve the pain? Has anyone used those Handeze gloves? Do they work?

10-27-2007, 10:38 PM
I get pain in the same place if I knit too long with a specific needle size. My ring and pinkie fingers curl around the needle and that puts a strain on the tendons. I always thought it was because I'd sprained that wrist years ago when I was a kid. But what helps is to stretch out those fingers by pulling back on them gently toward the wrist, both separately and together. Also, massage the area on the back of the hand from the wrist to the knuckles. take breaks and shake out your hands.

10-27-2007, 11:15 PM
I get pain in the big knuckle on my left pinkie finger. Been broke too many times I guess.

Take frequent breaks to rest everything and do lots of stretching. I had someone comment tonight that I have a very regular knitting cycle. I knit for about five minutes, take a break for a couple of minutes, and then start again. It really reduces the chance of pain problems.

Pat in Ca
10-28-2007, 12:10 AM
Funny!! I have been "icing" my wrist and heel area of my hand for 2 hours...that helps..(plus 2 advil or other anti inflammatory.. I think I want to learn how to knit continental so I can be "diversified" in case my right hand gives me more problems... I am kinda worried I am getting carpul tunnel..what would I do with all my stash.. and needles??????????

10-28-2007, 12:54 PM
I get wrist pain sometimes, and there was a tip (http://www.knittinghelp.com/forum/showpost.php?p=982063&postcount=6) in this thread (http://www.knittinghelp.com/forum/showthread.php?p=982063#post982063) that I found rather useful in helping alleviate the pain. I agree with what everyone else has said, too, to take breaks and stretch and use an anti-inflammatory to help.

Edited To Add: Suzeeq's post made me remember something else that's caused my pain in the past, too. She's right that pain can also be caused by the way you are holding your needles, too, but I've personally noticed what type of needle I use can make a big difference in whether or not I have pain. I've noticed that when I use circular needles that angle after the needle joins the cord, I hold them differently than I do circular needles that are completely straight after the needle joins the cord, and the way I hold the angled ones is hard on the tendons in my wrist. I've learned to do knit stitches continental, but I also find that you have to move the right hand a bit to pick the yarn on the left hand, and even though there is less movement that way (as opposed to English), sometimes it doesn't help me. When I've had to see a doctor in the past regarding my wrist (and I've injured it a few times long before I took up knitting), the doctor told me to avoid anything where I would be "pinching" because that can also aggravate the tendons. By pinching, he meant anything where you'd hold something between the fingers as if you were pinching.

10-28-2007, 02:24 PM
The problem with anti-inflammatories, or pain relievers is that they'll mask the pain, but you could be doing damage to the tendons. Pain is there for a reason, to keep you from using that part of the body in the same way. Doing what you can to keep the pain from occuring is much better. I'm not so sure that switching to continental will help much; mine is a result of holding the needle with those two fingers and I hold them the same way english or continental.

10-28-2007, 06:52 PM
I have had repetitive stress injuries for years and this is what I know about them: they are caused by doing the same motion over and over so you should switch stitches and/or projects. Some muscles are slow twitch muscles and others are fast twitch. Frankly, I cannot remember which is which, but the gist is that your big muscles, like in your forearm get tired less slowly while the smaller muscles in your finger get fatigued easily. What you can try to do is make your larger muscles do more of the work. When my mom knits, she brings her whole right arm up and over the needle since she has both arthritis and tendinitis. My grandmother learned to knit as a little girl and just flips the yarn over with her finger without moving her arm at all. My mom can knit for hours, like a machine, and yet my grandmother develops pain within half an hour.

Ice will help reduce inflammation.

Good luck!

10-29-2007, 01:13 AM
Thanks for the tips. I'm not one to take pain relievers though, even with headaches.

Suzeeq, you described it better with the pinkie and ring fingers "curled." That's how I knit, and yeah, whether I try to knit Continental, I would still hold it the same. Sometimes I get too excited about finishing a project so I don't take breaks when I know I should.

Annomally, I think I've read that tip but couldn't figure out the exact spot she was talking about.

Hmmm, I've noticed that my wrists "crack" (like when cracking knuckles) when I rotate them. Is this bad? I've read when you crack your knuckles, it's just air escaping. Wonder if this is the same thing? Wow, this is starting to scare me a little bit. :help: Should I see some kind of physical therapist or something?

Thanks again for all your advice. I'll definitely take more breaks now. I've also been watching the way I knit and trying to keep those two fingers straight so they don't hurt as much.

10-29-2007, 09:53 AM
Mine `crack' when I squeeze the wrist. It's the wrist bones going back into place. There are quite a lot of little bones in there and tight muscles and tendons can pull them out of alignment. What I do is place the heel of my other hand directly centered over the wrist, curl my fingers around the outer edge. You'll feel two prominent bones, on the outer edge of the wrist, below the pinkie, the other on the inside of the hand almost opposite it. Use your thumb and fingers of the other hand and apply pressure to these areas. There's another area below the thumb and you can squeeze there. This can help put the bones back where they should and give some relief.

10-29-2007, 10:38 AM
I get the same pain in the pinky and fore-finger of my right hand, since I use them to grip the right knitting needle. When I get sore, I stop for a while, its really the best thing to do. I've tried changing my holding style to accomodate those fingers, but I can't seem to do it.

10-29-2007, 06:18 PM
i used to get pain in that same spot when i knit english style. i have switched to continental for other reasons, and now i notice that i can knit much much longer (like for 2 or 3 hours instead of 30 minutes) before i get any hand pain. i don't think i hold the needles much differently now, i think it's just a matter of not having to tense the muscles in my last two (right hand) fingers since i'm not using that forefinger to wrap anymore...so i think everything stays more in balance, allowing for more natural movements....for ME anyway.

10-29-2007, 07:14 PM

There's obviously quite a few different techniques to English-style knitting.

Just looking at the first link - leverstyle - makes my wrist ache!


The link below is what I call 'Industrial' strength and tucking the long, straight needle under your arm takes ALOT of strain off the wrist and I even have a quirky way of holding the yarn - not over my index finger but middle finger.


I learned the 'Continental' knit stitch, as it seemed quicker than English but gave the 'Continental' Purl the go-by, as it played Merry Hell with my right wrist.

I do agree with what everyone says about taking breaks - I am now nursing a trapped Ulna nerve - similar to RSI - which the doctor and chiropractor seem to think is caused by sitting for hours at a computer with the screen at the wrong height - putting a strain on the back of my neck, where the pain radiates from.

Knitting and keyboard work aren't the cause of the nerve problem, but they aggravate it.

I think it might be worth trying out a couple of other methods of knitting and see if that doesn't help - it's always handy to know more than one way of doing something.

All the Best


10-29-2007, 09:14 PM
Annomally, I think I've read that tip but couldn't figure out the exact spot she was talking about.

When I tried it, I kept feeling around until I found a knot and when I started to knead that tensed up tendon, I knew I had the right spot when my middle finger started to twitch a bit. My wrist isn't aching now and I can't feel any knots in that spot.

10-29-2007, 09:20 PM
Limey, I too hold the yarn on my middle finger. I know Continental but I'm just much more comfortable with English even if I did learn to crochet first. For me, there's just less of a chance of stitches slipping when doing it English.

Annomalley, thanks. I'll keep trying.

I was searching for Handeze on the forums and found this old thread (http://www.knittinghelp.com/forum/showthread.php?t=50290). The second to the last post has a link to some kind of medical store selling gloves and other stuff. Here is a direct link to Hand & Wrist (http://www.colonialmedical.com/home.php?cat=357) items. Thought it might be helpful to someone else. I'm not too sure how reliable this site is though.

Becky Morgan
10-29-2007, 11:17 PM
That first style--lever, is it?--is the way *everyone* around here knits (and they brag about how many carpal tunnel surgeries they've had.) I've had people try to fix my style for years! If it works for someone, fine, but it really doesn't work, and hurts, for me.