Ouch. Aches and Pains: Keep Knitting or Take a Break?

When I’m in pain, I tend to take a break and switch to another craft. (I also spin and weave. Those use different muscles and motions, so it’s a nice break from whatever pain I’m experiencing.) I worry that if I push through and properly injure myself, it’ll be weeks or months to heal. I’m not willing to go that long without knitting.

Not knitting related, but when I was having a lot of lower back/hip pain when I lived in Japan, I went to a 接骨院 (“sekkotsuin”). My dictionary translates that as “bone-setter” (which is awesome!), but I think osteopath would be closer. Not sure how available they are, but being mindful of my posture and changing how I walked (square on my feet instead of on the sides) made a huge difference to my pain levels. Plus, every session ended with twenty minutes on a massage bed - I would be so relaxed I could hardly walk at the end of it!

Good luck with all the excellent suggestions!


I try all of the above but also do pilates regularly. I find that really helps with neck and shoulder mobility. I find that knitting keeps me sitting in one posture for a prolonged time so I sometimes knit standing up resting my work on the kitchen counter!

1 Like

Ten years of two types of arthritis have given me various aches and pains too. Stretching exercises specifically for the fingers and hands every day will help prevent stiffness. Plus doing them every 10-15 minutes while knitting seems to help. You can find exercises on <arthritis.org> or other websites.
Sometimes just gauging when to stop is the best.


I can rule that family of drugs out for myself, but it good to know. Thank you.

i had that too. I had a steroid injection in my thumb and it fixed it and it hasn’t happened again (9 months out).

Keep it moving? Sometimes when people get a sore shoulder, they move less and end up with a “frozen shoulder.”

1 Like

Just saw this book is coming out next week! Pricey, but it might be worth it. He also teaches classes, check the web site to see if there is one near you.


Thanks. I found out that Carson Demers will be at Webs next month (close by), but it is a bit pricey. I am going to my doctor this week. I hope she can convince me that I am not going to die from this. Just kidding, but I do tend towards worrying.

Lots of good ideas here. I just wanted to add that if you take ibuprofen or other pain reliever, you’ll feel better but it’s just masking your pain. Take the break; don’t continue to push through because drugs made it feel better. Because when they wear off, it’s much WORSE! (Ask me how I know.) So have a little pain reliever, but take a rest, too.


Thanks for your advise and encouragement; I wish I read it yesterday.

600 mgs of Ibuprophen down the hatch and I felt so much better. I started off slowly and before too long I was moving furniture and then I moved on to gardening. What a fool. I am finally seeing my pcp this morning. If I find out what this is (muscle or joint) I think I will be able to do the right thing for healing and hopefully stop worrying that this is some form of metastatic cancer. Oy. xo


I hope you feel better soon! I only punish myself this way if I’m knitting on a deadline. It’s really not worth it otherwise.

1 Like

I can definitely empathize! I’ve been having some right forearm and shoulder pain for the past couple of months, mostly caused by my mouse at my desk job but it also makes knitting painful (and I’m 25! What gives?!?). I haven’t picked up a knitting project in two months and it’s not fun, let me tellya!

My current remedies are lots and lots of rest (no knitting or crochet, limited handwriting, thank goodness I taught myself to spin short forward draft with my left hand forward so it feels like rest for my right arm! I’m also making impressive progress through my bookshelves…) and weekly visits to the physical therapist. It turns out that a lot of my pain is caused by bad posture/alignment, so my PT will do a deep-tissue-massage and then we do stretches/strengthening exercises in my shoulders and upper back to help improve my posture. Right now I’m in the “worse before it gets better” phase but I’m hoping to be back on the (knitting) horse in the next few weeks.

Physical Therapy gets an A+, 10 out of 10, worth a detour.


I am currently not knitting at all because of DeQuervains, which is tendenitis where the thumb meets the wrist on my right hand and also ECU ulnar tendenitis on my left hand. I had steroid injections two weeks ago after 6 weeks of wearing two braces and taking 800mg of ibuprofen three times a day. The pain is lessening and I miss knitting tremendously but I realize going back to it too soon will be worse in the long run. I imagine I’ll start slowly once the pain is completely gone. Take some time off from your knitting and use the time to get other things done that you’ve been putting off

1 Like

Torn rotator cuff and polymyalgia rheumatica. So now I know. PMR is an autoimmune disease and there are zillions of them. The future might hold shoulder surgery (ugh), definitely physical therapy, and I am quitting sugar, and plan on doing yoga and meditation to support body and soul. Oy. This aging crud requires fortitude and bravery. To top it off, my pcp sent me to a dermatologist yesterday–something is awry and the doc said one of my skin things is called a “barnacle of life.” Can you believe that? I am so old I have barnacles!


I had to give up hand quilting for the same reason. Knitting was better, then my shoulder again started bothering me. What I did: learned to knit continental, get a massage twice a month, after waking, make big circles with my shoulders. Am no longer having problems. Best of luck.

1 Like

My 93 year old mother says that growing old isn’t for sissies. This aging/degeneration experience is a mental challenge. A challenge not to bemoan (at least for too long) all the losses. It seems to be about adapting to change with grace…after a brief pity party, filled with laughs, gin, and your dearest pals. Thanks for writing.


What do you do when you can’t knit?

Turns out I have torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders. I haven’t been able to knit or really do much of anything for months. Surgery is in my future. I still pour over Ravelry and sort through my stash. But where can I put that knitting energy? Reading is good and so is a writing…but my hands are bored. Any suggestions?

Oh, dear!

I’ve had that as well! In fact, I had to have one done twice because it froze - but we won’t even discuss it because it just won’t happen to you, now will it?!? Because you will be a good person and do all of your therapy and not over do things, right?

I do still knit English, though… and it’s fine, now that I’ve healed. Have you had your surgery? I do have a post surgery tip if you haven’t. I also have a couple of the auto-immune arthritic diagnoses (FYI, once you get one, they stack, like potato chips, , but it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s the same you, just different paperwork, according to my husband)

Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with, or just talk to about. I’ve been there.

1 Like

Thanks, Deb! I have not had the surgery yet. I am going for a second opinion in Sept. hoping for different surgical options. Oddly enough, and I am overjoyed to say, it is less painful these days and I have a bit more mobility and I can knit again for short periods of time.

I would be happy to hear your tips and I am grateful for your kind words and generous support. Thanks so much.

I’m so glad you haven’t had any surgery yet!

Let me ask, if it isn’t too intrusive, your “barnacle,” have you had it looked at by your rheumatologist? I’m assuming, possibly incorrectly, that you’ve seen one since you got the polymyalgia diagnosis. The reason I ask is because my whole medical journey began with a simple swollen index finger and it was thought that I had carpal tunnel syndrome. I went ahead with the testing and surgery (after quite a bit of physical therapy and exercising) and woke up in recovery with my surgeon standing over me saying that there was way too much inflammation in there for carpal tunnel, and did anyone in my family have Rheumatoid Arthritis?

That began a very long quest to find out exactly what I had going on - because when you test negative for the easy things, like RA, lupus, etc., there are dozens of other auto-immunes that are not so easily recognizable and diagnosed, but once identified are just as treatable as all the others. That’s the good news! I really wanted to let you know that these pesky auto- immune are a true pain in the patootie, but they are very manageable once you are correctly diagnosed.

Also, if you do wind up having the rotator cuff surgery, I really think that the one thing that kept me from a second frozen shoulder was that on my right shoulder, on my athletic trainer’s recommendation, (he is actually the best person on my medical team right now as far as helping with practical day to day advice!) my husband got a therapy chair brought to our house on the day of my surgery, which was outpatient, so that when I got home, I began to do just a few repeats of the exercises that I would be repeating on the following days and weeks. I believe that by starting the therapy that early, I didn’t begin to build up the scar tissue that auto-immune patients with our famous white cell proliferation are known for, thus preventing the frozen shoulder. Maybe I was just lucky with it, but every patient that my surgeon and trainer have tried this with have not had to have a second surgery.

In any case, I didn’t mean to write a book! Let me know how you are doing and if you have any questions.



1 Like