Yeap, that's more or less how it goes. Follow that pattern, but add extra rows/inches until you reach the elbow.
Keeping the joints of your arm and hand warm helps reduce the pain.
It should help the top of your hand.
For finger pain, I don't have much in the way of advice. The pain in mine comes from a mixture of typing too much, crocheting too much and too much martial arts.
I suggest you knit in short periods during the day. Do other things in between.
Do you do your dishes with warm/hot water? I find it relaxing for the joints in my hand to sink them in warm/hot water. And since I have to do the dishes anwyay, I used it as a king of "mini hand massage" (yeah, I know it's nuts).
I also know that one exercise to add strength to the fingers when you're doing martial arts (or massage therapy, works for both, hehe) is rice.
I keep mine in a large tub, because I eat a lot of it, so it's easier to do this. Grab a handful of rice and squeeze lightly. Release the handful, repeat. Do a few repeats with each hand. Some people do it with cooked rice, but that's too much of a waste for me.
I have had this sooo many times that it isn't funny! I also have a "disease" in my hand that is called severs ( I have no clue how to spell it) that makes my bones grown faster then my tendons, so they stretch out. This is really painful, and still, I just can't make myself put down the needles. My mom tells me that doing this is going to make some major problems for me later, but do i listen? NOPE!