Jump to content

hand-building and throwing with arthritis, suggestions


Recommended Posts

I've had minor arthritis for a while now, but quite recently, it's begun to be really painful, with finger joint swelling and deformities occurring.  I build largish animal sculptures, which require a lot of pinching and clay manipulation.  The pain can get pretty intense, but an  NSAID pill usually gets it better pretty quickly.  My question:  Am I making the arthritis worse by my work (which I love), or might it be bad anyway?  The hand that I use the most in working, my right, is much, much worse than my left.

Thanks in advance for any info, tips, experiences that work, etc.

Dottie

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tough decisions as we get older @Dottie. Most o f this is personal decision, but I will let you know what I have been doing. Retired 2009, do part time pottery mostly in the non Winter months. I have had cysts, with bone spurs, one operated on, and it killed the joint on the rt thumb. I recycle all my clay with wedging, and throw most of my pieces. I used to pull handles with my rt hand, but now use an extruder to make handles for mugs and other pieces that require handles. I used to take NSAID for pain, mostly just before bowling, as I am an avid bowler at 3 times a week. I have found that the pain of the hands goes away when I am using them. The more I use them the longer the pain seems to stay away. However. as I used to teach most handbuilding techniques in HS, I know how much the pinch pot forms can affect the hands, especially as you get older. Maybe you could resort to a hybrid form with coils, or extruded forms working on the sculptural pieces that way. I think if you love what you do you will find ways to adapt.

 

best,

Pres

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, Pres.  I like your extruder suggestion.  It's been on my wish-list for a long time, so maybe it's time to get it.  I know it would save me not only a lot of time but I'm sure a reduction in stress on my hands.  And I have already started doing more coiling -- and slab-building -- than I used to.  And,  yes, I will adapt.  I just don't want to cause more harm as I do.  That's my main concern.  I can work through a lot of pain.  Thanks again.   

And as some actor of long ago said, "Getting old is not for sissies."

 

Dottie

Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems like a medical question---personally I would want to do some research into the specific condition and choose carefully what type(s) of health practitioner(s) I consulted.  Mainstream medicine did nothing for the type of arthritis I have, in a segment of my neck/shoulder, and in my right hand, but a year of  (insurance-covered) expert chiropractic treatment reduced it significantly, proven by x-rays. It is not gone, of course, but in over 3 years it has not progressed from that reduction and is nowhere near the pretreatment degree of pain and restriction of movement.  I am absolutely not offering a medical opinion--just sharing what has been the case for me, which has been counter to what I was being told by M.D.s., including that progression was inevitable.  Keeping my hand/fingers/wrist moving-including working with clay-is a recommendation for my ongoing flexibility. I do not throw very often; I handbuild. My most significant restriction is wedging, and I have found that the cut & slam method is the best technique for me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup, Dr.s involved with all of my decisions, but I am proactive about my health going in with questions for answers. Have had to since there have been some mistakes in the past. Just had xrays for hands, and will see what is recommended, and what I will be willing to risk. No one told us that the Golden Years were tarnished!

 

best,

Pres

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks so much for the medical info, Lee.  However, I just consider this a fact of getting older.  My doctor is aware that I do have osteoarthritis and agrees with my minimal treatment regimen.  I do appreciate that others, though,  have a situation that requires more care than my situation does.   I just want to be sure that any process that I do follow does not exacerbate my current situation.  I do pretty well except for the ugly lumps forming on my joints -- oh, well, I have potter's hands anyway, so what are a few more lumps?  Being able to play in dirt all day and get paid for it is reward enough for me.

Pres, thanks so much for the information on the hand-made extruders.  I'm impressed!!  Don't know if I'm up to building my own, though.  Wish I were, but I have to accept my own strengths and weaknesses, and building something that fidgety and complicated is beyond my level of comfort.  But maybe when I look at the prices of the ones in the pottery store, I'll change my mind again!  (Oh, and that Murray fellow has a lot more fun than most of us, I would say!  What a delight!)

 

Dottie

Link to post
Share on other sites

dottie, not medical advice just comfort advice here.   i have slept with my hands covered and warm for many years.   after seeing a neurologist many years ago, i got the wrist immobilizer he recommended.  it is not a flimsy thing you can bend, it is very sturdy and has lasted 10 years so far.    check out the bell horn brand wrist immobilizer, it was intended to prevent carpal tunnel problems.    i can use my hands as well as anyone many years younger without pain.   EXCEPT for pushing a slab into the middle of the left hand with the thumb on the right.   stroking the clay into shape cramps up the hands but i do not have visible arthritis.  maybe it is hereditary, thanks, mom and dad.

now, if i could just get the handlebars on my bike changed to the old kind that bend instead of the straight horizontal rod that is on it now.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, OL.  (Takes one to know one!)    So what does the keeping your hands warm do?  I've never heard of that.  And when do you wear the wrist immobilizer?  Surely not when you work.  

And, yes, there are certain movements I make that really make me cringe, and I see that I'm already adapting by changing the way I work.  I am NOT going to let this get the best of me.  There is more than one way to get to the same goal, and I'm finding those ways as I continue to work.  

And you're really fortunate not to have the visible signs of arthritis.  Mine have only popped up in the past year, and it's been a vanity problem for me because my smooth-handed, non-clay friends have perfectly shaped hands, although many are older than I am.  I have more fun, though, I'm sure.  

Thanks so much for the advice.

Link to post
Share on other sites

the wrist immobilizer is only for overnight.  way back in the 70s  i used to wake up with my hands feeling cold.   i started out wearing wool socks over my hand and wrist.   that let me sleep.   maybe your hands are not cold buy mine were and they still get cold easily.   maybe that is circulation.    yet, my mother would sleep with her feet outside the blankets even when it was cold in the house.  we are all different.

i saw the neurologist because the hand cramping worried me.   he tested me for carpal tunnel and found that it was not severe but suggested i wear the immobilizer overnight.   that was over ten years ago.   i stopped making the little fish that were causing the cramping problem and never do that stroking in the opposite palm anymore.

 

Edited by oldlady
clarity
Link to post
Share on other sites

Less inflammatory diet seems to help me significantly, also as much activity - mostly cardio, onna bike and in the pool - as I can fit in, with full range o' intensity, given enough rest to fully recover at least once every ten days or so (at my "age" it can take a few days to recover). For some bits, targeted routines (aka Physical Therapy - in caps, on account o' th' copay$$) really helps.

Base o' th' thumb, left hand, is the touchiest bit for me - lucky to still have all ten fingers, so there's options; from there, a couple o' Reynaud's toes, then elbows, shoulders, hip. So far, am able to stay away from aggravating the touchy parts in the studio.

Keeping hands and feet (especially them toes) warm, that's important. Daily citrus seems to be (almost) critical.

On flat bar bike, molded grips and sram shifters (easier on the thumbs) works for me; on the road bike, sram shifters (fit my hands better), bits of elastomeric padding under the tape, and hand position (weight bearing on the ulnar side) all help.

Top left, then clockwise: paddle-y molded grip (not exact same that I use, but close); elastomeric under tape padding (for drop bars) - I cut just the bits I need, about a square inch behind the brifters, and full length of the drop; Tyler can custom make you any kind/shape of cu$tom of bar you want (message me); a swept back bar.

There's a "bike kitchen" near us - good option for browsing "gently used" parts - perhaps there's one near you (St. Pete Bike Co-Op) Lady.

ops.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

I don't know if your stilling looking for suggestions, but I was interested in https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EKJVYLQ/ref=ask_ql_qh_dp_hza?th=1 which is a sausage caulking gun that has a high thrust ratio for easier extruding. they also carry a 26x1 which I think would be even more helpful, but I haven't tried these options myself. I am currently looking into them. If you can swing it electric sausage caulking extruders would be most ideal as there is no hand constrictions, but they are very pricey.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Went to a orthopedic surgeon last week. My biggest concern was some cysts that have appeared on the lt wrist, and the rt second finger knuckle. X-rays of both hands have revealed areas of arthritis on second joints of fingers. In the end the Dr. asked about my pain, I  answered that there was discomfort, not pain, and that I would work in the clay when things got sore and it would go away. He said that when it got bad to let him know and he could fix it.  How I asked? "fuse the joints causing the pain. I said Why  would I do that, as I got up to leave!

 

best,

Pres

Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Pres said:

Went to a orthopedic surgeon last week. My biggest concern was some cysts that have appeared on the lt wrist, and the rt second finger knuckle. X-rays of both hands have revealed areas of arthritis on second joints of fingers. In the end the Dr. asked about my pain, I  answered that there was discomfort, not pain, and that I would work in the clay when things got sore and it would go away. He said that when it got bad to let him know and he could fix it.  How I asked? "fuse the joints causing the pain. I said Why  would I do that, as I got up to leave!

 

best,

Pres

Yikes!  I hope stem cell joint therapy is finally FDA approved by the time I get arthritis.  I know I can't afford it now, but there's a chance in the future I could if insurance covered part!  Amazing how you can regrow cartridge with those therapies, and despicable how they are keeping it unapproved to make money.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Joint pain is part of my life-seems that 47 years as a potter has done some wear on hands

Wearing the wrist immobilizer while sleeping helps-hot water soak and or hot wax (I have a wax dip tank that I got for wrist surgery rehab 8 years ago) really helps.

Pres wrist fusion is what I will  have to do if/when my PRC right wrist causes me more pain than I can stand.I miss my 3 bones but have had a great pain free 8 years but its starting to bother me again.

Fusion is the last faul safe-not the 1st on the list but the extreme last.

I'm contapalting right now on a lower  small bone removal on my left thumb-getting a second opinion  in SF next week. I'm moving very slowly on this thought. The pain and loss of grip is teh driver.

I could stop with pots and still It would be bad. Its a bone on bone deal with no cartilage left and bone spurs. It an ugly X-ray.

Dottie doing the prevention items really is the 1st solution to helping.We have never been this age and its taken a toll on us-as you said aging is not for the weak of heart.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Mark C.I understand your concerns. Surgery 6 years ago on the rt thumb left me with a dead joint in that thumb and limited movement. Surgery that works out that way is not a solution for me. I still have quite a bit of grip as most potters do, and my wrists do not seem to be majorly affected by the arthritis. However the last joints on my fingers all seem to be getting knobby. I believe that part of that is the way I have thrown for years hooking the last joint of the lft hand fingers to pull the clay on the inside. They naturally have a hooked position even at rest, and only straighten out if forced. I will resist any surgery as long as I can. Everyone's health concerns are different,  and with progressive arthritis you have to make your own choices.

 

best,

Pres

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pres

I to have bumps on finger joints and as far as the hooked or curvered fingers that do not straighten . That can be a simple surgery procedure with no ill side effects if done with a hand surgeon. I had a friend do 3 fingers and no ill effects long term.Only one of my fingers is hooked at end and its thge one I cut off at age 12 and was reattached .So thats a special case and I'm fine with it looking curved when I point.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Marc how do you use hot wax to help your wrist surgery,   I am still having problems with my last surgery and my stiff finger is starting to curl again.   It will be a year in November since my surgery,  my left hand is now causing me trouble.   I am having some nerve test done tomorrow by my neuro to see if it is MS or carpal tunnel that is bothering me.   Denice

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hot wax was used in my PRC  wrist rehab- aftyer surgery. I found  a new one at a thrift store for 20$ and bought it. Its a electric tub that you fill with High quaility paraffin . You can dip your hand or foot. I then put it in a plastic bag (you want to contain any way as it will ruin carpet or cloths). Let cool and peel and put back in wax tub.

They are like this one

https://www.spaandequipment.com/Paraffin-Warmer-Machine.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjw5eX7BRDQARIsAMhYLP_4gpPNBGkTlEfJf9Yq2JC_8fTwO0TepgbTFhivmdcnOZXzBtmoqyAaAi9KEALw_wcB

Its just better than say hot water on your hands which is temporay feel good and joint loosening.

Any great rehab place will have these as they help with rehab.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.