Monday, September 7, 2015

Hand and Wrist Pain || Injuries and Treatment Ideas for Artists, Bloggers, and SAHMs

Hand and Wrist Pain Injuries and Treatment Ideas for Artists & Bloggers Artist Mary Highstreet

***Please read the full article. -- will be making some important changes/updates soon

DIAGNOSIS:  Repetitive Stress Injury, Hand and Wrist

CAUSE - PRIMARY:  Blogging & Style Board Design (8+h/day)
CAUSE - SECONDARY:  Drawing, Digital Painting, Carrying Baby

- shaky hands
- difficulty drawing and painting
- affected my art
- difficulty writing
- pain in my tendons and wrist
- severe pain and burning
- lingering severe pain, eventually lasted for days

- Physical Therapy, Hand Specialists.  1/week.
- Two months off completely (no computer, no cell phone, no art).
- 15 minutes of hot compress therapy, if possible, before stretches.
- Exercises, 3x/daily (see handouts below).  + Learn & practice new exercises every week at PT.
- Ice at the end of the day, if needed (these are handy).
- Add Back 1-3 hours a day of art/computer, seeing my hands are up for it.



(Click to enlarge -- right click to open in a new window, click for full size, print.)

- At the first sign of pain, seek help.
- Be proactive!  Don't take no for an answer.  Make sure the doctor knows this is serious.
- Seek natural treatment options, like physical therapy, first.
- Let them know you are an artist, your hands are important to you and your career, and about the things it has been affecting.
- Write down and share some goals for what you would like to see accomplished at the end of the treatment.

At Schoolism Live in San Francisco, I heard from artist Carla Ortiz, who also had a few months recovery for a different kind of artist injury, she recommended taking Physical Therapy as well as getting up from your desk, take a short walk and doing the Physical Therapy stretches every hour while working.  She even uses a timer on her computer to remind her when one hour has gone by.  Carla's lecture was very inspiring, and the precious knowledge she shared about taking care of yourself as an artist was invaluable.

Artists, take care of your body, you will thank yourself later!

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After a discussion on Schoolism Subscriptions Group on Facebook was sparked after an artist posted a picture of her hands and experience with injury, I engaged in a short conversation with artists looking for more advice especially in regards to hand injury prevention.  Since the initial post only covered my experience with treatment for a specific injury and didn't really address ideas for prevention, I would like to tack a short paraphrase of the discussion with preventative ideas here:

Q:  What kind of hand exercises should be done?  I don't want to hurt my hands.

A:  Depends on the diagnosis - best to see a hand specialist -- I wrote about my experience with healing from Repetitive Stress Injury above.  I asked my hand PT about it and they said they would be glad to do preventative sessions too!  This kind of stuff should be required in art school.

Q: I want to start doing the exercises...but should I do them every hour?

A:  I'm not a doctor or PT, so I can't say.  My exercises are for a specific injury that was diagnosed by a Physical Therapist, so getting an evaluation and receiving a diagnosis and personalized recovery plan is the first step.  I recommend seeing your doctor to ask for a recommendation or even a referral for a physical therapist who specialized in hands or has worked with artists before, that way you can get specific exercises for prevention.  Sometimes doctors can be dismissive, so you might have to insist.  My doctor, very nice and well meaning, told me I didn't have a problem the first time I mentioned my concerns, a year later and much much worse, I told him there absolutely was a problem and I wouldn't take no for an answer.  He then gave me a referral to a physical therapist specializing in hands. I think getting professional one on one training is the best way to go.  If you do the exercises wrong it could actually cause an injury.  I have done Physical Therapy many times before all with amazing results.  Currently I do my exercises 3 times a day, morning, noon, and night.  The exercises can sometimes seem weird, but they help so much!  My hands no longer hurt me and I am almost back to 100% steadiness.  I think it is fantastic you are looking into prevention!  Wish I did!


After experiencing a re-injury, I have been seeing a new physical therapist.  I have learned some new exercises/stretches that have been invaluable to my recovery plus other helpful tips, all of which I will be posting shortly.  I am going to post a new article with a new title, but will also post the link to the new article right here shortly.

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NOTE:  I am not a doctor, this post is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness.  This is just my personal experience.  Always consult a professional doctor before beginning any new routine or treatment.

1 comment:

  1. Very helpful information. Same info needed for programmers ­čśä


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