I haven't been able to quilt for two weeks due to searing pain along the outer edge (little finger to wrist) of my dominant hand. It came on slowly at first, then escalated to intense pain. It has taken me awhile to figure out why and how.
When I quilt tiny little designs (think pebbles) I work slowly, with clenched hands on the handles, especially when backtracking is involved. And, half of each pebble is backtracking! I know I'm not supposed to clench...but it is such intense work and I never quite feel like I'm in control. So, I hold on tighter.
I envy those quilters who can work up a design like pebbles, quickly and easily. But, that's not been my experience. One reason is that I do not have a stitch regulator and therefore must quilt the backtracking at essentially the same hand movement speed as the original line. I've worked ten years without stitch regulation and I still think I'm pretty good at it.
But, I didn't see this coming! I think it is similar to a tennis elbow, or the kind of injuries golfers get that is so like that. So, I had to lay off. Luckily, I had finished all the Christmas quilts that my customers needed by certain dates. Whew!
Not what I had in mind, I must say! I mean, if I wasn't going to be able to quilt, maybe I could catch up on all those other projects......oh, wait.....pain. Yeah, even holding a book open to read that first week was painful.
I won't go on about the herbal and homeopathic remedies I tried, because the only thing my hand needed was rest. But, at some point I've just got to get back to my job (and, my passion)!
My husband (the self-proclaimed “fixer”) came up with a great idea. If clenching my hand created this problem, like I think it did, what if we changed the size of the longarm handle? Make it bigger? So, I wrapped the handle with a strip of cotton batting, and held it in place with a piece of that stretchy ace bandage that sticks to itself. It is now almost 50% larger than it was before.
I've tried it....tentatively. Mainly because, while my hand is much better, there is still pain if I tighten my grip. The best part of the fix is that it constantly reminds me NOT to clench. I don't feel like I have the same control, but I will keep working with it until I do. Because, I really don't want to spend another two weeks like the last two!