View Full Version : Arthritis & knitting

05-20-2008, 05:46 PM

Does anyone here have arthritis that inhibits your knitting?

I'm 32 years old and I was told 5 yrs ago that my neck was nothing but arthritis. Knitting is causing severe neck pain that also travels to my head. I used to get severe migraines a couple times a year but now that I started knitting I get at least 3-4 a week. I started knitting in march. I have to stop every couple of rows because looking slightly down at my hands, while knitting, is causing the severe pain.


05-20-2008, 05:49 PM
I have slight arthritis in my hands but knitting actually helps.

Sorry about your pain. Perhaps you need to knit for shorter periods before taking breaks to relax?

Wanda Witch
05-20-2008, 09:37 PM
Oh, gosh, Heather, you are waaaay too young to be suffering with this sort of arthritis. Since knitting (with your head angled down) is bothering you, can you possibly find a position, a chair, whatever, where you are holding your head, neck straight? Keeping the work in front of you? I have an absolutely awful neck, a chiropractor told me some years back, the worst he had seen. Did NOT make my day, by the way. I've learned to sit up very straight, not slouch down in a 'comfy' chair or sofa, etc. When I sit at the computer, as now, I find I am ram-rod straight. Lower the shoulders, also. I am so sorry for all your pain. As I wrote, try the posture thing, a D.C. (might help) and keep the shoulders down (not hunched up - a habit I found difficult to break), and r e l a x. I am certain there are members here who are far better professionally to advise you, but just wanted you to know I feel for you. Take care.

05-20-2008, 09:58 PM
i was reading and if you put a pillow behind your neck it helps. and if you put a pillow under your knitting it rises it up so you don't have to look down. Hope this helps

05-20-2008, 11:51 PM
I don't really have any suggestions for arthritis in your neck, but maybe taking frequent breaks from your knitting to move around a bit will help the neck pain. I have arthritis in my hands, wrists, & knees. I was diagnosed with juvinile arthritis when I was 12 (I'm 26 now). Try to keep moving as much as you can, keeping still for too long will just make the pain worse.

I hope you find a comfortable compromise so knitting gets more comfortable on your neck.

05-21-2008, 03:25 PM
Heather, I've got rheumatoid arthritis so bad that I retired from work due to it and a few other problems. If I knit for more than ten minutes, the pain gets really bad. What helps some is a compound with emu oil, MSM, and a few other ingredients that I can look up if you are interested. I have to sit fairly upright in my recliner or my back goes also. You have my complete empathy; between the RA, fibromyalgia and a spinal stenosis I know what constant pain is like. I'd get a lot more done without it, and probably be a nicer person t be around.

Becky Morgan
05-21-2008, 03:39 PM
I second the advice to see a good chiropractor, buth for adjustment and for advice on what positions will make life easier on you.

05-22-2008, 08:17 AM
I'm 27 and have fibromyalgia, so have a lot of the problems you're describing. When I first started knitting, the pain was intense because I was gripping the needles so hard and had my shoulders hunched up. Here are some things I find help a lot :

Every time I notice it, I relax my grip and relax my shoulders and try to knit from the position they go into.

Often, having a thick cushion on my lap to rest my hands on while I'm knitting helps because I'm not putting so much strain on my neck and shoulders by holding it up, and also the knitting itself is higher up so I don't have to look down so far.

Taking a break every couple of rows, even just by resting my hands down still holding the knitting, and rotating my neck and shoulders means I can keep going for a lot longer.

I put tubigrips or wrist supports on when it's bad just to give my wrists some extra support.

I see an osteopath every few weeks who puts all my bones back in the right places.

I've found that fibro and other arthritis illnesses can give you a fantastic understanding of anatomy. I am always amazed at how a sore wrist can end up giving me neck, shoulder and hip pain because each set of muscles pulls the next joint up out of place. The best thing I can tell you is to frequently rub the muscles in your arms to stop them pulling down on your neck - if you're getting migraines it may be because muscle spasms are cutting off bloodflow to your brain - I often get migraines if my shoulders and neck are too tight. Also, *take painkillers*. The way we hold ourselves when we're in pain is what leads to a lot of the problems later - I know a lot of people (me included) don't like taking painkillers unless we *really* need them, but if you're doing something physical, like knitting, then they help you prevent injury and long-term damage by keeping your muscles relaxed.

Some days, of course, I just can't knit, and some days I can only knit a little and I have to put it down. It took me a while to learn when to stop, but I know, now, that if I don't stop at that point, then I probably won't be able to knit for a few days, whereas, if I just stopped, I'd probably be able to do some more later that day.

05-22-2008, 09:17 AM
I have disc problems in my neck and osteophytes, but my problem is turning my head to the side. Looking down at my knitting so far hasn't been a problem for me. I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. Perhaps a heating pad or a heated rice bag (made of fabric) would be soothing while you knit. Also, have you talked to your doctor about meds like Celebrex? I took Celebrex for a couple weeks (I hate taking meds long-term), and it got me out of a bad pain flare.

05-22-2008, 12:42 PM
I had a cervical discectomy with a fusion in my neck and the doctor gave me something called tramadol for persistant neck pain that wasnt responding to anything else. I had pretty much given up hope of feeling better. This drug was the only thing that helped and it was immediate relief with the first dose. It didnt make me feel sleepy or off in anyway it just took away the pain.

05-22-2008, 04:58 PM
Heather, I've had trouble getting comfy for knitting. I don't have the horrible pain but I would get a neck cramp. I do everything, flat or circ, on circ needles. For small projects, I sometimes lie flat in bed with a contour pillow to support my neck.

Someone on this forum has raved about square needles for those with hand problems.

Hope it helps!


05-23-2008, 07:56 PM

Wow! Tons of great advice on this thread.

My own problem is a cervical spondilitis at the top of my spine, which sometimes causes the Ulna nerve to flare up.

Best ways I've found to keep on knitting without increasing pain, is to sit on a wooden chair that has arms and a slightly padded seat.
(I think it's known as a Captain's chair).

If ever I get a flare-up of pain, I use the TENS machine recommended by my physio.

After I've used the TENS machine, I don't do any knitting or typing because I think pain is for something - it's a warning to behave myself - so I don't push it. I give my neck and hands as much rest as I can and see what things are like the next day.

All the Best