Today I am here to tell you about knitting and arthritis. Surprisingly most people forget that knitted items are made with hands…and finger dexterity is a must!
So, today’s question really is, “is it possible for me to knit if I have arthritis?”
This article explains the basics about arthritis and how knitting can help arthritic hands.
What is arthritis, and what are the symptoms of arthritis in the hands?
Arthritis is a condition in which the joints become inflamed. This can lead to significant pain and discomfort, as well as limiting mobility.
The causes of arthritis are mainly unknown.
Arthritis may cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in your joints, including your fingertips, wrists, and knuckles, according to MayoClinic.com. Pain typically worsens with activity and dissipates when you rest.
Is knitting a good leisure-time activity for people with arthritis?
Knitting is an excellent leisure-time activity for people with rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Rheumatology Network. Knitting helps improve blood flow in the extremities and can relieve stiffness in fingers and hands. It also maintains the length of muscles in case of joint contracture. The repetitive motions involved in knitting also helps promote muscle relaxation by helping to release endorphins. Although arthritis may make it more difficult for hands and fingers to hold the needles or yarn, people who are highly motivated can still enjoy knitting.
How does knitting help with arthritic hands?
Knitting is an exercise for your fingers, which makes it a helpful option for people with arthritis. It also helps keep joints flexible and maintain grip strength, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Arthritis in the hands and fingers often increases pain, but knitting can make it easier to manage arthritis pain. It is a safe alternative for people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis because it doesn’t cause further inflammation of joints, according to MedicineNet.com.
Why knitting may not be good for arthritic hands?
Holding knitting needles for long periods can cause hand pain and stress, especially if you have arthritis in your hands. It is important to choose the right sized needles and yarn to make sure that it’s not too heavy or thick to hold comfortably. Knitting on double-pointed needles requires a great deal of finger strength, and some people may not want to invest the time and energy required for that.
Post you may also love: 10 Best Ergonomic Crochet Hooks For Arthritis
How to knit if you have arthritic hands:
If you decide to try knitting, experiment with the type of yarn and needles to make sure it is comfortable in your hands, recommend MedicineNet.com. You can also use a wide-barreled needle or a loom that lets you get your hands further from work. Although arthritis usually worsens with cold and wet weather, finger-stiffness knitters can use hand warmers or wet their fingers before they begin knitting.
How to make sure knitting is good for arthritic hands:
Keep your joints flexible by stretching them frequently while you knit. Alternate activities that keep your hands moving all day, such as knitting, to reduce stiffness and pain in your fingers. Get a good pair of ergonomically correct fingerless gloves to provide support for your arthritic fingers while providing flexibility and warmth.
When considering knitting or any physical activity, make sure that it is worth the effort, meaning that it is comfortable and enjoyable. If the act of knitting hurts, then you will not want to do it which defeats the purpose of trying to keep your hands flexible and arthritis-free.
What other activities people with hand pain should do instead of knitting?
If knitting is not the right activity for you, try another repetitive hand movement like drawing with pipe cleaners. Most of us have some easy creative ideas that help keep our hands healthy and active throughout life.
Making a list of activities, you enjoy that can help maintain your hands’ flexibility will be helpful as well. There are tons of ideas out there.
Common misconceptions about arthritis
One misconception about arthritis is that you cannot do anything once your arthritic joints start causing symptoms. The truth is, you can always find some form of medication or activity to help make the pain and stiffness fade away, but it is up to each individual to find what works best for them.
One important thing to remember is that arthritis usually takes time to set in, which gives patients plenty of time to figure out ways for it not to interfere with their lives. Keeping a healthy eating and exercise routine along with regular visits to the doctor will help you keep your joints flexible and strong over the years.
There are so many activities beyond knitting that you can do as a patient with arthritis. Just remember to keep moving and use the surrounding resources to make sure you make healthy choices for your body.
Benefits of knitting for people with arthritis
- Knitting helps keep the hands limber and flexible.
- Yarn can be bought in various thicknesses, allowing for different amounts of finger strength.
- Yarn can be used to make items that help people with arthritis hold on to things more easily, such as mittens or tennis balls.
- Knitting can be done in groups, which is a great way to meet people with arthritis and other health conditions.
- Knitting provides the opportunity for some relaxation without pain or harmful side effects of medications that treat arthritis pain.
Tips to make it easier to knit when you have arthritis:
- Heavier weights are often better than lighter ones because they require more finger strength to handle.
- Yarn made from wool or acrylic is easier on arthritic hands than cotton yarns, which can fray and break easily.
- Arthritis sufferers who have wrist pain may want to use a triangular-shaped needle or a loom that puts the hands further from the work.
- Loom knitting can be done with one hand while leaving the other free for eating, drinking, and writing.
- Hold your needles differently when using arthritis creams to apply pressure at different angles on joints depending on what area is causing symptoms most often.
- Arthritis sufferers who have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome should take special care when picking up and placing down their yarn.
- Make sure you aren’t applying pressure in any one area for too long by alternating your hands every ten minutes of knitting time. This ensures that joints are not getting over-worked or injured.
Things that can be done to reduce pain in your hands while knitting:
- Limit the time spent knitting each day to about fifteen minutes, especially during your first few months of knitting. Your goal should be to slowly increase the amount of time you spend knitting over a period of several weeks. Break up your work into smaller segments that are closer together to achieve this goal.
- Choose yarns that are made from wool, acrylic, or plastic. Carrying and using balls of yarn can be a difficult task for those with arthritis. Plastic is less likely to tangle than wool or cotton because it does not have any knots that can cause the yarn to become stuck in your work like other materials do.
- Choose knitting needles made out of plastic, glass, or metal. These materials are lighter than wood and won’t chip away at your joints over time.
- Make sure you use a bigger set of needles so that your work will be loose enough to make it easier for you to knit without causing pain in your hands.
- Use knitting gloves to help keep the yarn from slipping out of your hands.
Do you need special tools or equipment if you have arthritis?
- You may want to switch from wooden needles to plastic or metal ones since they are lighter and won’t add more strain to your hands.
- You might also want to invest in a loom so that you can use one hand while leaving the other free for eating, drinking, and writing during downtime.
- Consider using triangular-shaped needles for small projects, which will cause your wrists to be further from the work.
- You can try using a pincushion or ten-pin cushion in place of yarn balls. This will help you hold onto your stitches without placing pressure on your joints.
- Put a padded strap around the back of your neck to support your wrists, which can be another good way to help reduce pain and stress.
- Use a loom that has an adjustable tension system so you can control how loose or tight the material is as it gets thicker.
Arthritis sufferers should be able to do whatever they want to, and that includes knitting. The tips above are meant to offer some help in making knitting easier for those with arthritis. However, these tips are simply suggestions; you will have to figure out which ones work best for you. So, enjoy knitting without worrying about the pain that arthritis can cause in your hands!