"I wonder if Laura or her mother, or if women in general back then got carpel tunnel/arthritis from all the handi-work things they did (knitting/crocheting/sewing/embroidery, etc..) I know after even a few hours of knitting my wrists start hurting!"
Of course the women back then got all kinds of joint injuries. Remember, they had no running water, electricity or heat. They hauled water and firewood, for heat and cooking, every day from childhood on. Handiwork was a rest for them.
There wasn't much old age arthritis, rheumatism, and such because most didn't live past 40. Divorce wasn't prevalent either . . . for the same reasons.
LIW was, of course, born mid 19th century and lived till the mid 20th. Those before her going back to the early pioneers didn't survive that long.
I don't know about all of you, but I may have been a real wuss in those days.