PlanetJune Craft Blog

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Reduce hand pain by releasing your trigger points

Hand and wrist pain is a common story for crocheters, knitters, and other crafters who spend a lot of time making repetitive motions with their hands.

If you visit the doctor, you may be told you have carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, arthritis, an RSI (repetitive strain injury), and that may be the case… or it may not.

Before you consider serious medical treatments like steroid injections or surgery to help with your hand pain, I’d suggest you read my story below, and see if you can fix yourself without the need for drugs or surgical interventions.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, and if your doctor has diagnosed you with a condition, their recommended treatment may be the right solution for you. But I’d recommend you try this simple self-administered pressure treatment first – it can’t make things any worse, it’s fast and free, and it may relieve you of serious pain!

My Story

In 2007, I was mis-diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.

The pain was debilitating. I could no longer perform everyday tasks without agonizing pain: turning a door handle; pushing open a door with my palm; using a computer mouse; operating a can opener…

I was referred to a specialist, given a fancy wrist brace to lock my wrist straight, and told that if that didn’t fix the problem, my only other options were steroid injections or carpal tunnel surgery.

I wore the wrist brace for months, and learned to mouse left-handed. The brace helped with the pain, but the problem didn’t go away.

Eventually, I found a cure that was ridiculously simple, I could perform on myself at no cost, and has completely fixed the problem.

None of the doctors I visited considered this as a possibility.

The cause of all my debilitating wrist pain was a knotted muscle near my elbow.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points & Referred Pain

When you overuse a muscle, it can cause sensitive areas of tight fibres to form, creating a knot in the muscle. The point where the knot forms is called a trigger point, and pressing on it causes an achy pain.

Now, here’s the crazy part: the muscle knot at the trigger point can cause serious pain in a different part of your body. This is called referred pain.

So the pain you feel may be caused by a trigger point elsewhere. No matter how much you treat your hand or wrist, you won’t be able to fix the problem if the pain, like mine, is caused by a trigger point in your upper forearm!

Treat Yourself

Once you know where the trigger point is that’s causing your pain, you can ‘unlock’ it – and stop the referred pain – by releasing the muscle knot yourself.

I learnt this ischemic pressure technique by watching a video from Dr Jonathan Kuttner, an expert in chronic muscle and joint pain. He has a couple of quick videos that explain the process – I highly recommend you watch them:

The process is the same to ‘turn off’ any trigger point. The key is to start with low enough pressure on the trigger point so it doesn’t hurt, then to gradually increase the pressure, but never to the level where it hurts.

(From experience, I can tell you that, if you’re too forceful, you’ll end up feeling like you’ve bruised yourself, and you don’t do any good. Slow and gentle is the way to go.)

My Treatment

Coincidentally, the trigger point Jonathan demonstrates ‘turning off’ in his video is the same one that caused my carpal tunnel-like symptoms and wrist/hand pain, so I could follow the instructions in his video exactly.

I’ve never been able to feel the nodule of knotted muscle he describes, but I know I’m in the right place when I feel the tender spot on my arm.

Treating hand and wrist pain with trigger point pressure therapy on the upper forearm

In 2009, when my condition was agonising, I could press the trigger point in my arm and immediately feel the referred pain in the back of my hand and wrist! That’s what convinced me that this was a) a real phenomenon and b) the cause of my problems.

Here’s me from an email I sent in 2009 when I’d just cured myself of my supposed ‘carpal tunnel syndrome’:

The myofascial thing is amazing – my wrist was so painful I couldn’t put any pressure on it while it was at all bent, so I couldn’t even open a door or a jar without it being agonisingly painful. I got one of those wrist splint things and it helped me to avoid the pain but it didn’t get better. And then I was googling and found this AMAZING thing – basically it was a referred pain caused by a muscle knot just below my elbow. And by doing gentle acupressure [sic] with my finger on this point, I healed it! I know it sounds like rubbish, but it’s totally true – when I pushed this exact spot on my arm, I could feel the pain in my wrist, even though I wasn’t doing anything to my wrist. Total magic.

Since then, I’ve rarely had the pain escalate to the terrible point it was at. I always treat it as soon as I realise what’s happening, and the knot has never had a chance to form as badly as it was back then.

I’ve developed the same problem in the other arm too, and now I can always find the trigger point on each arm – I feel a tender ache when I press on them. I try to do the ischemic pressure treatment whenever I remember, to stop the knot from forming in the first place. This works really well for me!

Finding Other Trigger Points

There are trigger points all over the body, and you can consult a trigger point diagram (like this one) that shows the position of the trigger point (marked with an X) and the possible locations of referred pain for that point (shown as a cloud of red). You can use those to help diagnose if any of your unexplained chronic pains may be caused by trigger points, and try to deactivate them if so.

I’ve had several other problems with pain that have also turned out to be trigger point related:

  • I get pain at the base of my thumbs when I crochet (or use my phone) too much, and I’ve discovered that there are two trigger points in the thumb. Treating the lower trigger point at the base of the thumb seems to help me.
  • I also occasionally get terrible upper back pain. When I have it, I can never get comfortable and I can’t sleep for the pain. The back pain turned out to be caused by trigger points, and now when my upper back and shoulders are hurting, I can usually fix it by unlocking the trigger points in my levator scapulae or trapezius muscles. (Here’s Jonathan’s article Trigger Points for Neck Pain).

Give It a Go

I have no idea how many people with hand pains from crochet or other crafts may also actually be suffering from a simple trigger point caused by a knotted muscle in their forearm, but please do try some trigger point pressure therapy and report back here if it helps!

A couple of tips on what to expect:

  • If your pain is bad, I’ve found that it may take daily sessions over a week or two to completely turn off the trigger point, but you should be able to feel an improvement immediately.
  • Your trigger points will probably reactivate in time, but knowing where they are and how to treat them means you can fix yourself in future before the stage of agonising pain, limited function and sleepless nights.

I hope this works for you as well as it has for me.

Here’s to more crafting, with less pain! 🙂

Comments (8)

WIN a copy of Mandalas to Embroider!

Search Press, the publisher of Mandalas to Embroider: Kaleidoscope Stitching in a Hoop by Carina Envoldsen-Harris (the beautiful embroidery pattern book I reviewed last week) have kindly offered one PlanetJune reader the chance to win a free copy of this lovely book!

Mandalas to Embroider by Carina Envoldsen-Harris

If you’ve already picked up your copy, enter to win a copy to give to a friend – it’d make a lovely gift for anyone crafty 🙂

I’m delighted with the embroidery that I made using the Sakura Clusters pattern from the book (and it was my first time doing a proper embroidery, so you can definitely do this too):

sakura mandala emboidery

If you haven’t read my review yet, click here to see what I thought of this book – then come back here and enter to win your own copy!

How To Enter

  • Simply leave a comment on this blog post (below) this week, i.e. before end of day EST on March 25th, 2018. You can say anything in your comment: why you’d like to win this book, your past experience (if any) with embroidery, or even just ‘Yes please!’
  • Make sure you enter a valid email address in the email box, as I’ll need that to contact you if you’re the winner!
  • This is open to everyone, worldwide 🙂
  • I’ll randomly draw a winner and contact them by email after the closing date to get their address. (I’ll update this post with their name once they’ve replied.) If I get no reply after a week, I’ll draw a new name.

Good luck!

Mandalas to Embroider by Carina Envoldsen-Harris

UPDATE: I selected the winner by random draw (for simplicity, I numbered the comments 1-70, and I’d redraw if the winning number was one of my own comment replies) and the winner is Kate! Congratulations Kate, and thanks to everyone else who entered.

If my posts have whetted your appetite for embroidery, you can buy Mandalas to Embroider here on Amazon, or from your local bookshop 🙂

Comments (70)

back home in Canada!

I’ve been back in Canada for just over a week now and I’ve just about finished organising the most critical things, so now I can take a breath and start to enjoy myself!

Ontario landscape
Ahh, this is the beautiful Ontario that I’ve been missing 🙂

Although winter hasn’t set in properly yet here, this is already the coldest weather I’ve experienced for over 6 years, but I’m enjoying the crisp, cold air and the opportunity to wear warm coats and snuggly sweaters. And, more than anything, I’m enjoying feeling safe and welcome here.

When we arrived last Thursday, after 24 hours of flights, it took another 4 hours to get all the customs and immigration paperwork sorted out before we could finally collect Maui, and then he had to stay locked in his crate for another hour while I drove us from the airport to our temporary accommodation. But, just like our move in the other direction 6 years earlier, he bounced back very quickly from his ordeal and has settled nicely into our condo.

Maui relaxing in our condo
Maui loves dozing in this chair (with a green pillow that matches his eyes – he’s so stylish!)

We (unintentionally) arrived back here just in time for Black Friday, which was quite a culture shock after years of buying practically nothing in South Africa, where the things I’d want either weren’t available or were too expensive to justify buying. I enjoyed flipping through many dozens of sale flyers, and we picked up a few home electricals that were on sale – we’ll need to re-buy everything electrical because of the different voltage here.

I couldn’t convert my South African driving license back to an Ontario license, so I knew I’d have to take written and road tests before I could buy a car here again. Apparently the local driving test centre has a 4-5 hour wait just to be seen, so I drove out to Stratford instead (no queues!) and, after an extremely stressful day – there were no test appointments available until January, but I managed to snag a cancellation – I passed both my written and road tests, so I’m now an Ontario license holder again! I’m just waiting for my new car to arrive, and then we’ll be ready to get on the road and start to explore Canada’s vast natural beauty.

beaver toothmarks
I’ve set myself a challenge to photograph a wild beaver – these toothmarks are as close as I’ve got so far!

We’ve also found a house to rent from January. It’s a brand new house in a new development in Waterloo and it’s very clean and modern inside. It’s lovely, although I’m not quite sure why anyone would need more bathrooms (four) than bedrooms (three)…. But I can’t wait to move in and turn it into our home 🙂

I’m hoping to snag the massive master bedroom as my office/studio – PlanetJune needs a lot of room to house my photo studio, design and making space, computer/office suite, and supply storage! I hope that splitting one large room into separate spaces for each area of my business will help me to be more organised and stop everything from getting hopelessly muddled. I’ll let you know next year how that’s working out…


And now I’m going on a semi-sabbatical for the next few months. I’ll still be around to help with any PlanetJune problems, but I need to sort out the technicalities of moving my business to another country before the new year hits.

I’d also like to have a good break after that – the past year has been full of upheaval, and, once I’ve got everything set up here, I could really do with some time off to relax before jumping into any more big projects.

Don’t worry, my blog won’t be going silent while I’m getting settled into my new life! I’ve been stockpiling new patterns and blog posts for months now, so I have lots ready to share with you while I’m on sabbatical.

Ahhh, I’m so happy to be home! 🙂

Comments (17)

December update

I’ve started a new hobby: setting up themed photos that cram in lots of my crochet designs for my Instagram account. It takes a while to set them up, but I’m really enjoying the results! Here’s my latest one, featuring over a dozen of my Christmas designs:

a selection of Christmas-themed PlanetJune crochet patterns
A plethora of seasonal PlanetJune designs – find all the patterns here

I’m planning to make more of these crochet scenes next year – follow me on Instagram (@PlanetJune) if you’d like to see them 🙂

And, if you’re crocheting Christmas decorations or presents, please join the Christmas CAL in the PlanetJune Ravelry group and share what you’re making from my seasonal patterns (or any other PJ patterns as Christmas gifts).

Review and Win contest

You’re automatically entered in the next monthly draw every time you write a review for a PlanetJune pattern you’ve enjoyed – and you’ll also be helping future customers make an informed decision about patterns they are considering buying.

koala crochet pattern by planetjune
October’s winning review is Holly M‘s review of my Koala pattern:

I chose this pattern for a group project in which my office-mates and I all made a bunch of koalas and attached them to the trees at our workplace. I wanted it to be closer to koala size, so I used this exact pattern, but used a heavier yarn and bigger crochet needle, and it still turned out perfect and adorable! Everyone loved that the arms were poseable. A great, easy pattern to follow, and a true joy to make!

Guinea Fowl crochet pattern by PlanetJune
And November’s winning review is Heidi W‘s review of my Guinea Fowl pattern:

Although this looked difficult to make it was very well explained by June’s pattern instructions. I absolutely loved the body and neck technique and the finished product looks exactly like her photos! I will definitely be purchasing more patterns from June.

Congratulations, Holly and Heidi – I’ve emailed you both to find out which pattern you’d each like as your prize!

What’s next?

In preparation for my 11th year in business(!) I’m planning some changes for next year. I’m trying to cut out any tasks that are neither important nor enjoyable, to leave me with more time to concentrate on the important and fun parts of my business, and to have more time away from work.

As part of that plan, this will be the last of these ‘monthly update’ posts (I don’t think many people read them, and I can probably spend the time more usefully):

I’ll be sharing more about my future plans in my Year in Review post – I think they’ll make a positive difference in my life and in the operations of PlanetJune 🙂

Comments (2)

October update

Autumn is my favourite season, and, even though it’s spring here in the southern hemisphere, I still think wistfully of beautiful fall colours and the first chill in the air whenever October rolls around. So I decided to spend some time putting together a little PlanetJune Fall photoshoot that perfectly captures the essence of autumn for me:

a selection of Fall-themed PlanetJune crochet patterns
Amigurumi Acorn, Apples, Pears, Pumpkin (all donationware patterns!); Pine Cone and Mushroom Collections – find all the patterns here

If you’re feeling the joy of autumn too, please join us in the PlanetJune Ravelry group and share what you’re making from my seasonal patterns.

Review and Win contest

You’re automatically entered in the next monthly draw every time you write a review for a PlanetJune pattern you’ve enjoyed – and you’ll also be helping future customers make an informed decision about patterns they are considering buying.

PlanetJune shop: My Patterns (Full) feature

To highlight how easy it is now to review your PlanetJune patterns from the new My Patterns page in your PlanetJune account (see screenshot, above), I tripled the review prizes in September, and there were an unprecedented 86 new reviews written as a result – wow! Thank you to everyone who wrote a review last month; I’m sure all your reviews will be really helpful to other crochet fans. And here are the 3 contest winners:

horse

Jackie M‘s review of my Horse pattern:

I have been looking for a good (small) horse pattern for forever, and this is it!!! Very clear and detailed, and the instructions for the mane and tail are SO unique and easy to implement!

African Violets crochet pattern by PlanetJune
Guinevere M‘s review of my African Violets pattern:

June’s patterns are by far the best I have ever seen for plants, and this pattern is no exception. This is your opportunity to create beautiful African Violets that never have to be watered, and that won’t be turned into salad by your overly adventurous feline. The pattern is clearly written providing different options to allows you to customize your very own pot of African Violets. It also includes lots of photographs and tips to assist you, and the end results are beautiful.

Rippled Lace Rectangular Shawl crochet pattern by June Gilbank
Nuria A‘s review of my Rippled Lace Rectangular Shawl pattern:

This was my first try on such a large crochet project, and on using lace yarn! The pattern is really well written and explained, just as I was able to do foundation single crochet for the first time and with no problem just by reading the instructions. Crochetting this shawl is easy, so you soon can do it without reading the pattern (I used to do it while watching TV). Since the color of the yarn goes changing each two turns, it encourages you to go on a little bit more, and the shawl is complete quite fast.

In conclusion, a really good pattern if you want to crochet a nice shawl and you don’t have so much time to spend on it.

Congratulations, Jackie, Guinevere and Nuria – I’ve emailed you all to find out which pattern you’d each like as your prize!

What’s next?

Continuing my half-a-world-away celebration of Fall, I’ll have a new donationware pattern for you very soon, and then I’ll be turning my attention towards Christmas..!

Comments

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    June Gilbank

    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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