View Full Version : Arthritis and woodturning

22nd Jan 2011, 06:38 PM
I've taken some time off from woodturning for a few months because I kept getting pain in my left hand. I had x-rays which showed wear and tear in my left hand particularly the thumb joint, a result of over 20 years of using a computer keyboard for hours each day. I have tried to get back into woodturning but find that the pain starts up again as turning depends on left thumb pivoting, gripping etc. Does anyone suffer from chronic pain in their hands when woodturning? If so, how do you manage? Doctor says that I'm too young to get this sort of arthritis but I'd consider surgery or seeing a witch-doctor if I could remove the pain permanently.

Manuka Jock
22nd Jan 2011, 07:11 PM
Tiger ,
I have it in both hands , and my knees . It made itself known in my left knee 2 years ago .
Over the last 9 months or so it became apparent that the right knee , and then both hands were getting rusty hinges.
The latest Xrays and blood tests ordered by the GP have shown that the hands are winning hands down , and the knees stumbling a poor second :D .
My next step is saying hallo to the specialists .
Rheumatoid arthritis runs in the family , and 40 years of swinging a hammer in the building trade , plus other timber related stuff , back country work , general living ,etc has added to it's development.

I make the most of the time that I can work on a lathe , which , considering that I don't have a place to set up a workshop at present , is not much time at all :no:

Push the doctor or get another one . There is no such thing as 'too young ' to getting ill health .
Diseases to not read basic medical manuals to learn rules , they make them up themselves as they go along

22nd Jan 2011, 07:22 PM
Tiger I sympathise with your plight

I agree with Jock never to young for illness but it should not happen.

I have suffered arthritis since 7 years of age. I have a young relation to the wife who has got whats called JDM a damn mean form of juvenile arthritis he has had since he was 4 now 13. I take fish oil tablets, I have eaten New Zealand Green Lipped muscles which helped heaps. Dropped all alcohol. :2tsup:

22nd Jan 2011, 11:26 PM
I have a form of arthritis in the joint at the base of each thumb. Eventually it will need surgery "when I can't sleep at night because of the pain"( exactly what the specialist said.)

I take fish oil capsules and glucosamine tablets. When things get really bad I take Panadol Osteo.. They all help, although I haven't had to take the Panadol Osteo for a month or so now.

I find there are times when my grip suddenly becomes weak or I get severe shooting pain in one or both thumbs. I look on both of these happenings as an inconvenience, but also realise there are times when either event could be positively dangerous.

22nd Jan 2011, 11:48 PM
Same here so the Doc took out the trapezoid bone and reconstructed with a tendon.

12 weeks of rest and is now as good as before but without the pain. :U:U:U

Get it done asap :U

23rd Jan 2011, 12:09 AM
Having suffered from RA since my late 30s I can tell you that the normal age for that to show is about 40 + - I have also spend many hours researching and can tell you that you are unique. Every person gets different results but the one thing that helps is you researching and trying things.
My doctor tells me diet is not a factor but he has many patients who swear by eating this or that and it helps them. With me, exercise is my cure. Pain is also a factor, Dwelling on pain makes it worse, you have to learn how to manage it.

23rd Jan 2011, 08:24 AM
been suffering with arthritis since my 20's. Have had both knee joints replaced. a few years back the top joint of my left thum got so bad I stopped using my radial arm after a piece took flight .I was told to go to" earthclinic" on the net. Do so and found a old wives tale uning cinnemon and honey,I followed the insrtuctions and am now using my radial arm and doing lots of other things that I had stopped.Have passed this info on to others and for some it works but not all. I suggest you look the site up and give it a go. Nothehing to loose.Hope it will do you some good. :) PS I had good movement after about five weeks and I kept using the C and H for a while and now I no longer use it and all is fine. Good Luck

23rd Jan 2011, 09:31 AM
Thanks for the supportive responses. I have been taking Glucosamine tablets for almost 3 months now, I haven't noticed a lot of difference though.
Rrobor, what sort of exercises are you doing? I have looked on the Internet but not found much on this. I am hoping that if I do some exercises before turning that I can get through a session without too much discomfort.

23rd Jan 2011, 10:46 AM
My kung fu cannot defeat the power of wood and steel and as a consequence my hands hurt often.
Topical sprays, ointments, lotions and gels that contain Arnica give me enough temporary relief from hand and arm pain that I can work at the lathe. They work fast and last through my turning sessions.
Seppo product lines and brands may vary from here to there.
I would try a health food or vitamin shop for a recommendation.
We are in our winter here presently and I would add that cold always
seems to make it worse.
Best of luck with it.

23rd Jan 2011, 04:13 PM
The thumb in particular can be a problem joint; it's not a ball and socket joint at the base, more like a saddle joint, and so the tendons and muscles need to work in concert for the thumb to be supported. Tendons and ligaments can stretch with age or injury or constant loading and that can cause stiffness, swelling and pain (ie. basic arthritis).

There are specialist hand therapists in the big cities who can help diagnose the cause of joint pain and provide more or less proven non-invasive treatment options.

Those might be a simple as an ice-pack applied after a work session through to perforated thermoplastic splints to take the load off an arthritic joint. Soft splints may also work. Ditto for stretching and strengthening exercises to change the joint dynamics and move some of the load to the muscles.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can also be helpful if taken for a few days after a flare-up. But the great hope of long term medication using these (eg. Vioxx) was spoiled by their contribution to higher rates of heart attack.

23rd Jan 2011, 07:09 PM
Good input Ern.
I forgot to mention my neoprene soft splint.
It was something a rehab specialist recommended.
I sometimes wear it while I sleep. It seems like it helps keep
everything where it is properly aligned.
During the day my hands are too busy to he hindered by a mitt
but it would probably be good to use.
I would be reluctant to use mine while actually turning because
it has nylon fabric bonded to it. The idea of having any threads near the spindle gives me the creeps...
I turn a lot of natural edge pieces and that could get ugly.
The Arnica I mentioned above is non steroidal and acts effectively as an anti inflamatory.
Traumeel (http://www.traumeel.com/)
Magnesium sulfate or Epsom Salts is another effective anti inflamatory but one cannot turn in a bathtub :D
I'm sure there are others.

23rd Jan 2011, 07:21 PM
With Arthritis the joint becomes inflamed and sore. If you dont move it, it temds to start trackig further on. By moving the joint you maintain circulation and it wont get so bad.
Exercise is perhaps the wrong word, You should not stress an inflamed joint, you should try to maintain its maximum mobility. But again I must stress there is no common Arthritis, each person is unique so it will be you who finds out wbat works for you. I have done Cider vinigar diets, Boiled cod, Vegitarian, fish oils etc. With me its fresh air and a bit of hard sweat,
Try to minimise drugs, swallowing anti inflamitories by the bucket will stop the pain there but start it up as an ulcer or Helicobacter. I always found the local GP dished out seeroids etc far in excess of the specialist.
In my years of Arthritis my main secret of mobility is me in control of me. I take the amount of drugs I need no more or less.
The best judge of your condition is you. You are starting out well trying to research and find out.
Keep doing that and try anything and everything. its far better than sitting in a corner feeling the pain and asking why me.

24th Jan 2011, 06:49 AM
Yes, it is important to run your own show with arthritis. If you can learn what makes it worse and how to avoid that it helps.

There are now concerns about over the counter medicines based on Ibuprofen too; in my book, a drug can buy you a bit of time for recovery from bad flare-ups but shouldn't be permanent since they all have side-effects.

Thanks for the Arnica tip John.

Re the soft splint overnight, same here; I think what's happening is that the compression is reducing the swelling.

24th Jan 2011, 12:33 PM
Thanks again gentlemen, I sense some hope when I read your thoughts.
Rrobor, I think there's something in what you say. By consciously moving the thumb and flexing it, I do have less pain. Of course the acid test is when I use the lathe, I will try moving the thumb around before and during operation of the lathe and see how that goes. Am going back to the doctor today as I've had a few sessions of physio on the thumb, difficult to assess whether the physio has had much effect. I would say that not using the lathe has certainly decreased the pain. Wish there was a natural treatment for decreasing the swelling and inflammation of the hand as it's noticeable to anyone who looks at my hand that it's swollen, anti-inflammatories have too many down sides.
One question though, I now can feel slight pain in my right thumb, is it common for both thumbs to go at about the same time?

24th Jan 2011, 12:58 PM
Here is a site that has helped me to not take prescription medicine which was making me miserable. I brought my cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar numbers below where I need prescription medication.

DrWeil.com - Official Website of Andrew Weil, M.D. (http://www.drweil.com/)

He sells vitamins, etc. but you can buy them anywhere.

I have read these books and found them helpful:

Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being by Andrew Weil

8 Weeks to Optimum Health: A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Body's Natural Healing Power by Andrew Weil

I found them in a used book store.

24th Jan 2011, 01:00 PM
As John posted, there's Traumeel cream or pills which are available in Australia.

Voltaren cream will also provide symptomatic relief but not as much as a gel icepack IME or even just a bag of frozen peas!

And a soft splint (neoprene) can help reduce swelling and support the thumb when in use (unlike John's, mine has no free threads and I use it regularly while turning).

If your physio has not given you a clear diagnosis and advice on how to avoid flare-ups, then go to a specialist hand therapist. Click (http://www.ahta.com.au/site/index.cfm).

I can recommend Melbourne Hand Rehab.

Added; there are many types of soft splints so a professional recommendation is essential.

24th Jan 2011, 02:23 PM
Thanks Paul and Ern, will investigate splints, I think I've seen them in chemists but will explore what type I need to be able to turn.

24th Jan 2011, 02:32 PM
Happy to help you get back to turning Tiger.

You may have missed the addition to my last post:

there are many types of soft splints so a professional recommendation is essential.

If you want to DIY, then here are some choices and good luck: click (http://www.sportstek.net/thumb_and_wrist.htm)

24th Jan 2011, 03:19 PM
You may have missed the addition to my last post:

Thanks Ern and noted. Have you had to change the way you turn at all to accommodate the glove?

24th Jan 2011, 03:58 PM

I've had to give up doing big/heavy faceplate pieces as a consequence in general of the arthritic thumb/sometime carpal tunnel syndrome in the non-dominant hand/recovering broken wrist in the dominant hand.

For me the best solutions - and like you I'm focussed on avoiding drugs and surgery - have come from the specialist hand physio.

Among those, the best is a custom thermoplastic splint to stabilise the thumb in the dominant hand. With that I can cross-country ski for days without kick-back.

Just need to find a big enough leather glove so it will work with motorbike riding as well.

None of these are cheap solutions.

So if you can find a way through Medicare .... ?

I'm not a fan of GPs in general for these kinds of probs but there are sport physicians that come with Medicare rebates at some level. Try Alphington Sports Medicine (http://www.alphingtonsportsmed.com.au/). Not that far from you. I've been down there for a buggered knee and thought they were no BS.

24th Jan 2011, 06:46 PM
I have Osteoarthritis in the joint of the left thumb, not too serious. It keeps well with the gloucosamine a couple of tabs a day, so far so goods. :U

25th Jan 2011, 12:47 AM
My answer to your other thumb is yes. Arthritis likes a friend, If the bad thumb gets worse it will go to the other thumb. I never really had it in a thumb, mainly fingers, but that was my experience.
If your Thumb gets hot cool it down. Never ever ever let it get too hot. I burned out the muscles in my rude finger in one night because I didnt know the cure. Ice it down. I have been sitting watching TV with my foot in a bucket of water and ice cubes, same with the hands. In all my years of this, I only have damaged that one finger, but even that is improving with time.
It sounds like you have RA, for that you will need a good specialist and I suspect you will need drugs. If it is RA do not believe you can fight it without help, life is too short and you can get in a mess very quickly. Having been through the stage of taking half an hour to get out of bed to where I am now which is just able to feel my arthritis.

25th Jan 2011, 09:58 AM
I managed to get onto the lathe last night and did about 30 mins of turning. Prior to getting on, I did numerous stretches of the thumb and I think that kept the blood there and kept the pain at bay. Even while turning, I stopped for a few seconds and tried to move the thumb around keeping it flexible and trying to stop it becoming stiff. There were moments of pain but not as bad as a few months ago, mind you I only did 30 mins of turning as opposed to a few hours like I normally would. It does seem that moving the thumb around and keeping it flexible helps however the thumb and hand were still very swollen afterwards. I did not notice a lot of pain though. If anyone else is going through this, keep the part moving and give it a rest every few minutes - that seems to help.

25th Jan 2011, 11:16 AM
Not mentoned here previously but incorrect posture while doing driving/office work/ not taking breaks often is probably one of the worst things you can do for your back in promoting arthritic strain. What is especially bad is crossing your legs under a desk and wedging yourself in while you use a computer or sagging back or slumping forward as this leads to weakening of stomach muscles which puts all the pressure on your back.

Lower back pain can destroy your everyday activity levels and mean that using your arms, shoulders upper body etc to do woodwork is greatly reduced because you can't bend over or for that matter exert any significant force for sanding/planing/screwing/sawing as it can go straight to your lower spine. Doing work while bending awkwardly or twisting can and does ruin my whole day. i can't push a mower around and even sitting on a rideon causes pain.

my hands and arms are fine but I have to be careful not to put even too much pressure on my lower back because inflammation flares and can go right up your spine in spasms.

A hot water bottle or heat pack is best followed by osteo panadol, then di-gesic, tramadole and finally when all else fails Endone which basically knocks me out for up to 6-8 hours.

There are warnings about Voltaren as it can cause strokes. use it very sparingly around the inflamed areas..

Ed Reiss
25th Jan 2011, 12:39 PM
The one greatest thing that can be done to your turning tools, in order to alleviate hand pain, is to leave your turning tools thick handles...they have a tendency to keep your fingers from getting all cramped up.
Rude Osolnick taught me the proper size to make the handles, and my hands have not given me any serious grief since. :2tsup:

25th Jan 2011, 01:29 PM
The one greatest thing that can be done to your turning tools, in order to alleviate hand pain, is to leave your turning tools thick handles...they have a tendency to keep your fingers from getting all cramped up.
Rudy Osolnick taught me the proper size to make the handles, and my hands have not given me any serious grief since. :2tsup:

Is there a standard size recommended?

25th Jan 2011, 03:43 PM
Bee stings are one of the best things for arthritis. I keep bee's, and when I get a good stinging, I am pain free in my hands and knees for circa 6 months. Do a search on the WWW for apitherapy.

As an aside, beekeepers have one of the lowest incidences of cancer amongst all the trades!

25th Jan 2011, 04:45 PM
There is much written about this subject, but relax those tender joints. I am not going on about that for fear of being banned from the forum.

However, here are some things for your consideration. As has been said before every case is different, but in particular there are many forms of arthritis. This possibly is part of the explanation for remedys working for one person, but not another.

Whilst rhumetoid and osteo are the two most well known forms, there are others including the juvenile arthritis mentioned before and of course gout. It is a little ironical the the larger joints are the ones we have the ability to replace, while the fingers and toes we have to suffer with.

If you have a problem with aches and pains, get it checked out, but be prepared to be insistent with your medical practioner as there are a lot of entrenched philosophies. You may hear comments to the effect that there is nothing you can do about it or you have to wait until you are older.

That may be the case, but it is no excuse for not having an x-ray and referral to a specialist. Modern thinking has altered in that prosthetic joints are superior to the older tyes and last longer. You may not be asked to survive until the wintery years are upon you before they will operate.

Some arthritic sufferers experience little pain, but their condition may still be extreme. Others are in severe pain for apparantly little reason. Either way it should be checked out. If you hurt a lot or have mobility issues there is a problem. It may be possible to do something about it.

I confess to having a problem with the pharmesutical drugs. I would certainly encourage people to seek the so called "natural remedies" . Glucosamine, apple cider vinegar and fish oil are some well known remedies. Note that some fish oils are better than others. You have to be aware that with all these "cures," including the prescription drugs, you are probably only buying time and putting off the inevitable.

On a positive note I relate the case of a friend whose father had had both knees and both hips replaced and at 78 years old went trekking in Nepal. It may encourage those of you with discomfort to do something about it and help you to enjoy life.

Be aware that any operation has at least a remote possibility to go wrong. It should not be viewed in the same light as cosmetic surgery, for example. A prosthetic joint is never the equal of the original joint. It is just better than the degraded joint.


25th Jan 2011, 05:21 PM
The one greatest thing that can be done to your turning tools, in order to alleviate hand pain, is to leave your turning tools thick handles...they have a tendency to keep your fingers from getting all cramped up.
Rudy Osolnick taught me the proper size to make the handles, and my hands have not given me any serious grief since.

Totally agree with Ed on this. I have always made my handles largish around 32mm or 1.25". My rule of thumb is the handle needs to able to slide through the circle that my left hand index finger thumb can form. Just tight enough not to separate the finger tips. This is my minimum size for my handles and works just fine. :2tsup:

25th Jan 2011, 06:16 PM
David Ellsworth, hollow form pioneer has a book out titled Ellsworth on Woodturning: How a Master Creates Bowls, Pots, and Vessels , 2008 Fox Chapel Publishing - Woodworking books and magazines for the inspired woodworker (http://www.FoxChapelPublishing.com)

In the AAW's American Woodturner Summer 2009
I found Betty Scarpino's favourable review intriguing enough to want to read it but have not purchased it yet.
In chapter 8 "The Body" he discusses using a hanging bar to rejuvenate his body & improve his posture.

Due to my physical condition this does not present a viable option for me but perhaps the idea is something for some standing turners to consider.
link to amazon US
Amazon.com: Ellsworth on Woodturning: How a Master Creates Bowls, Pots, and Vessels (9781565233775): David Ellsworth: Books (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1565233778/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=2696920409&ref=pd_sl_34ijjsfsgb_e)

Most of the time when I visit my GP I'm too busy explaining other maladies to even mention hand, shoulder and neck pain.
Seeking out a specialist and a proper diagnosis is the best way to
address a problem.
Find a physician that listens to you .
I've had Dr.s tell me I'm out of luck.
For much of what I deal with (spinal cord injury 1978)
that may be true but it is sound wisdom to seek another opinion if you are not buying into what someone tells you.
Natural remedies I've dabbled with may lend themselves to relieving pain for a while but in no way would I claim that they "cure" anything.
That kind of a claim would make even me, an occasional natural medicine proponent quite suspicious .
If there were bees around I'd be tempted to experiment during times the joints become screaming banshees.:oo:

I took my 74 year old mother to her Dr. today for lower back pain.
Ice & heat, Vicodin doesn't touch it, bedrest for days. The new anti inflamatory Meloxicam has all the above mentioned side effects that are enough good reasons in themselves to consider safe and well researched alternatives.
The bottom line for me is I will keep using whatever tools I can
to spend some time at the toolrest.

25th Jan 2011, 06:29 PM
I think Tiger you have enough information here. It is now up to you to add to the information. It is for you to find, to seek, to fail and recover. To curse and swear, and to do all the things we all do.
If you have enough within you to fight the beast you will win, cry in a corner and it will cripple you. Pain is the body telling you something, understand and accept that.
I have not taken pain medication for 30 years, not because Im some great strong guy, no I taught myself how to deal with what was to come. In another post I said toothache would drive me crazy, I could fix that, Arthritis I can not fix, its a pain I view as a symptom to be manipulated.
You will find what is for you, What I say or any other says can be totally correct or totally wrong. Arthritis is an immune disease. It is the bugs you host in your body to protect you getting it wrong. You are on your road to find your answer its not an easy road.
I remember some guy talking of age and saying its like being a pilot, As the aircraft gains height you see more and more. Then just as you are about to have everythging revealed to you, where you will understand all mysteries, your eyesight fails,
So accept. Total answers are hens teeth, look to your own power, try it all and find what is you.

25th Jan 2011, 07:09 PM
The one greatest thing that can be done to your turning tools, in order to alleviate hand pain, is to leave your turning tools thick handles...they have a tendency to keep your fingers from getting all cramped up.
Rudy Osolnick taught me the proper size to make the handles, and my hands have not given me any serious grief since. :2tsup:

Does that mean my Dr. can prescribe my next Thompson gouge ?
I favor the oversized ones too.

Ed Reiss
25th Jan 2011, 10:51 PM
Does that mean my Dr. can prescribe my next Thompson gouge ?
I favor the oversized ones too.

...let's not go there, my doctors have gotten rich enough off my ailments already:~:D

28th Jan 2011, 01:12 PM
Here's another thing to try and it's part of the game of varying how you load an affected joint: don't always hold the tool handle by enclosing it between thumb and fingers. Try laying the whole hand over and around the handle.

And the other obvious option in this vein is to swap hands and learn to turn ambidextrous.

28th Jan 2011, 02:35 PM
emu oil capsules :2tsup::2tsup:
they are not a quick overnight fix , they take a while to kick in but they worked for me .


28th Jan 2011, 02:52 PM
Bromelain, which is a pineapple extract, also works for some.

But bear in mind the placebo effect.

Ie., you expect something to work and it does.

Said to be effective in something like 30% of cases.

At least at the level of symptoms.

Which isn't the whole picture.

If you've got Osteo or Rheumatoid Arthritis, you have a continuing condition and a continuing job of work to manage it, as rrobor says.

28th Jan 2011, 05:28 PM
what i have is "Chondrocalcinosis" which i was supposed to get operated on about 10 or 12 years ago .
but i opted not to have the surgery and tried emu oil capsules started to get some result after a couple of months and slowly decreased the dose until i was down to 2 a day , i stayed on that for a while and my knees were fine , no swelling no pain .'
so i went off the capsules and wham within 3 weeks i had it back again swollen knee like a football and very painfull, so i went back on the emu oil for about 6 months until down to 1 a day then stopped taking them altogether and have been trouble free for at least 8 years until a few weeks ago when helping with the flood cleanup i must of done some thing that it never liked and it flared up again been back on the capsules now for a few weeks and its just about fixed it , i will stay on them until i have used this lot up then it should be good again .
there is no doubt in my mind that the emu oil fixed my symptoms ,probably not cured the problem though because i do have to be a bit careful still ,
also get a twinge in my shoulders and wrists now and then but nowhere near as bad as the Chondrocalcinosis in the left knee .
i am blaming being a floor tiler for 13 years as the cause of my knee problem .or could be from ski racing , or could be from several motor bike prangs ...............i wont go on i could be here all night just listing the ways i have tried to destroy this body .

28th Jan 2011, 10:46 PM
emu oil capsules :2tsup::2tsup:
they are not a quick overnight fix , they take a while to kick in but they worked for me .

Where do you get them?

28th Jan 2011, 11:07 PM
good health food shops should have them there are a few brands out there , but i always used to buy them from this farm cos i like this brand ." Emu oil- Emu oil Arthritic Assist Pure Emu Oil and Emu Heaven Emu Oil Emu oil products Emu Oil Capsules Emu oil skin reppair Emu oil beauty products Emu oil shampoo Emu oil conditioner Emu oil soaps Emu oil massage oil Emu oil heat rub Emu oil sleep (http://www.emuheaven.com.au/)


28th Jan 2011, 11:40 PM
good health food shops should have them there are a few brands out there , but i always used to buy them from this farm cos i like this brand ." Emu oil- Emu oil Arthritic Assist Pure Emu Oil and Emu Heaven Emu Oil Emu oil products Emu Oil Capsules Emu oil skin reppair Emu oil beauty products Emu oil shampoo Emu oil conditioner Emu oil soaps Emu oil massage oil Emu oil heat rub Emu oil sleep (http://www.emuheaven.com.au/)


29th Jan 2011, 11:01 AM
A friend visiting from Adelaide brought me some of the emu oil once
and I had good results.
What I cannot figure out is how they get the emu on the lathe. :D
I tried the link that Texx posted...
the farm looks like a beautiful place.
Is it always that green in that area ?
I'm guessing more so this year based on the news
I'm getting.

29th Jan 2011, 02:23 PM
What I cannot figure out is how they get the emu on the lathe. :D

Needs a special tail centre ;-}

And beak jaws for your chuck.

29th Jan 2011, 02:51 PM
needs a special tail centre ;-}

and beak jaws for your chuck.

31st Jan 2011, 11:46 AM
G'day Y'all
I have had RA for the last 40 years and have tried everything you can think of and then some.
There are new meds on the market that do wonders, see a Doc or two. Ask about "Methatrexate"
Asprin keep the swelling down and that helps the pain.
Keep moving! Never quit.

31st Jan 2011, 03:00 PM
Methotrexate is not for all, If you are thinking about having a family this is not for you. If you drink a bit more than the occasional glass, you will do your liver in.
Methotrexate in other forms is the morning after pill for naughty ladies. Afterwards they should not get pregnant fir a few months. I take Methotrexate and have done for years. From memory your asprin is not advisable, please check that. 5mg of Prednisolone daily is probably better but check with your own doctor.

31st Jan 2011, 04:56 PM
I have been doing some research into medication for Arthritis and as can be seen from the responses there are a staggering number of choices out there, unfortunately some have side-effects. I have found that doing thumb exercises has improved flexibility with perhaps a slight reduction in pain. I'm investigating an anti-inflammation diet and will let you know how that goes.
There is also the suggestion that weight-training and a healthy diet may stave off arthritis, I've done plenty of gym in my time, am mainly a tee-totaller and eat pretty healthy most of the time and still I've copped this condition so don't believe all that you read.

31st Jan 2011, 06:08 PM
Is it Osteo or Rheumatoid that you have Tiger?

Here's some data on biological agents' effects on RA: click (http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab007848.html)

And lots more plain language summaries of quality medical trials of treatments of musculoskeletal problems here (http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/topics/80_reviews.html)

31st Jan 2011, 06:25 PM
Yep, you beat me to it. In a thumb its not so likely to be RA, more likely Osteo. But he did say he had twinges in the other thumb, a symptom of RA. Using a chisel locked in the hand for long periods could suggest RSI. Each has different causes and different remedies. I think its time Tiger found out exactly what his condition is.

31st Jan 2011, 09:19 PM
Have had xrays done, doctor says it's osteoarthritis. Thanks for the extra reading Ern.

1st Feb 2011, 05:20 PM
Plenty there to keep you amused ;-}

So is the left or the right hand your dominant one? Ie. the one with the prob.?

1st Feb 2011, 10:39 PM
Plenty there to keep you amused ;-}

So is the left or the right hand your dominant one? Ie. the one with the prob.?

It's in the left hand, my right hand is my dominant one.

2nd Feb 2011, 02:21 PM
Hmm, well it's odd and so much of this prob is idiosyncratic.

If you touched-typed all those years in the normal way the only digit you wouldn't have used would have been the left thumb.

But when I was young and typing a lot I got left thumb pain too; I reckoned it was something to do with holding it out of the way all the time.

Anyway, you've got a range of things to try.

Like you I'm wary of drugs.

When you look into the trial protocols used by 'big pharma' there's little reason for confidence.

Most natural remedies are not tested at all, and the prob there is lack of data about side-effects.

Traumeel as mentioned does appear to have been tested but their website restricts access to the data to health professionals.

For me the best strategy is to try to avoid irritating the thumb in the first place, and the best way of doing that is to stabilise the key joint with a hard splint (pictured) which was custom-made by a physio specialising in hand probs. It slips over the thumb and is held in place by a strap around the wrist.

It works at the lathe and it works skiing but it damn well won't fit under even the biggest motorbike gloves :(

Anyway, good luck with yours.

2nd Feb 2011, 02:57 PM
Thanks, Ern. I too have a glove recommended by the physio but it feels pretty restrictive so I think it would be a little difficult to use at the lathe. My thumb hurts more if it stays still, the physio has said that I need to move it around every now and then to stop the pain from building up.

On the issue of the thumb with typing, I use it a lot for the space bar and if you look at how it moves when you do that it is a bit awkward and could hasten the onset of arthritis there. My finger joints are also a little stiff but the pain there is minimal compared to the thumb anyway.

2nd Feb 2011, 04:24 PM
In any forum there are posts where you think " Can this guy be real" In this one you see years of experience, and years of pain. You also see going off half cocked can give you a wrong answer.
If you have Austio Arthritis for example our friend from USA suggestion of Methotrexate as perhaps your salvation. This is not for you. Yours is a wear and tear problem and/or you chose your parents badly.
Movement of the joint creates blood flow which allows all your healing and defence mechanisms to work. Those that lie down, die down.
Taking drugs for your issue is where I drop out. For RA, ask me. But in saying that, if there is something, research that. From memory I saw something on TV about rebulding the tissue between the bones. It was the new cure. I though have seen new cures too many times. Why do I
still have RA ?

2nd Feb 2011, 04:55 PM
In cases of breakdown or wear of cartilage there is some work being done in the US on injecting some kind of goo into the joint to take its place or stop further wear. Don't know what success they've had.

The trouble is that cartilage breakdown is just part of a syndrome; pain, swelling and stiffness result from it and are the body's response to trauma. This becomes part of a permanent pattern in some cases and needs treatment in its own right not least for patient comfort.

3rd Feb 2011, 08:19 AM
I'll start a thread in the Health section on why folk should be wary about medications.

7th Feb 2011, 06:01 PM
Just to add: when you look at the studies on drugs, paracetamol seems to work for many as well as the others with fewer if not no side-effects. Have just been through the research and a chat with the GP, and am trying Panadol Osteo. It's over the counter at chemists.

Was using Mobic for big flare-ups and it was increasingly nauseating. Literally.

7th Feb 2011, 09:03 PM
My swansong on this thread.

When I was first diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my hips sometime last century (actually 1997, but it didn't sound dramatic enough by itself), I asked the specialist what caused arthritis.

He told me that if I could work that one out I would be able to buy Tasmania with my petty cash. I think he intended more as a comment on the arthritic debate rather than an indictment of the southern isle!

At that time, he categorically stated he would not advocate any sort of operation until I could no longer walk his corridor without holding onto the walls for support.

Two years ago I thought I had better have a check up to make sure I was not doing anything that would prejudice my chances of a successful operation when the time came.

I had recognized my movements were becoming more and more restricted and I was having difficulty with sleeping. An undisturbed sleep was just a faint memory. Too many positions were uncomfortable. Please bear in mind I was taking no medicine other than glucosamine (powdered form). Nothing else, not even fish oil, which in retrospect probably everyone should take.

Consequently I was a little taken back when the specialist, a QLD variety this time, announced "We don't often see them this bad."

He suggested I go away and think about how soon I wanted to have the replacement. The first hip was replaced in June 2008 and the second one in August 2008. They have been an unqualified success.

If you met me, you wouldn't know. In fact, I am sufficiently vain to say that you might be surprised and disbelieving. I don't suppose my neighbours realised this when I recently felled a pine tree in 2m sections starting from the )! That's good from my part.

If any of you have questions on the subject, (hip replacement, not pine trees or felling) I will attempt to answer them where I can. Bear in mind it will be my subjective opinion. The open forum may not be the best place for such discussion so please feel free to PM.


7th Feb 2011, 09:24 PM
I have arthritis of the joints at the base of the thumb, and it severly limits my piano playing too, as I cannot spread the handwide enough for the larger range of notes on the keyboard.

I don't do wood turning, but it is surprising how much the thumb is used in the workshop for handling wood etc for cabinet making and box making.

Best results I have found over the past 5years is daily glucosamine tablets, an anti-inflammatory Celebrex tablet on the days it restricts activity due to pain, and also rubbing with Difflam or similiar anti-inflammatory cream at night.

9th Feb 2011, 04:38 PM
As I have been intermittently visiting the forums lately, this is a late chime-in, but I have found this very interesting, and will add my bits, in the hope that they might strike a chord with someone else.

I have a family background of osteo, with both my grandmother and mother significantly incapacitated from their mid fifties, though both lived into their eighties. I have always worried that I must be susceptible. While I know that inheritance is an iffy thing, I am not showing significant issues yet, with a couple of exceptions.

One is right thumb, but that has developed from an injury, (my son twisted the joint while we were horsing about).
Second is left hip. In 2002 I spent 7 weeks in traction with a shattered acetabulum from a m'cycle accident. Prognosis at the time was that the hip socket cartiledge was cactus, and it would only be a matter of 5 years before the joint failed, and I would need a full replacement. In fact I am still mobile, although initial twinges are starting.

In fact it is the general decay of "old age" which I am finding more of a trial.

What I have found, (and this goes back to my thirties) is that heavy stress on joints can trigger arthritic episodes, which can take months to clear up, and can recur. Once these have healed though, they seem to remain dormant, unless you repeat the abuse. Ageing has definitely lowered the threshold for these episodes, though.

To illustrate, while still recovering from the accident, I went back to coaching junior footy. As I was worried about stressing my injured hip, I was throwing far too much load on my "good" hip, and soon ended up in agony. As it happened, I was due a recovery visit to my orthopod, and it was he who diagnosed arthritis in the undamaged joint. It took a good 6 months, (with help from glucosamine) to fade, and has not recurred in 8 years. That said, I have stuck to a more sedentary lifestyle.
Recently it has taken 6 months to recover from overstressing my right shoulder pressure washing the whole house outside.

My reason for the anecdotes is that while exercise and movement can be beneficial, in my case, I have learnt to my cost to be cautious, as the consequences have proved extreme in the past.

To date, except for the glucosamine above, I have still avoided medication, with the exception for symptomatic relief, (painkillers and anti inflammatories) during the worst of the "overuse" incidents.

With specific reference to turning, what I have to be careful of. is my tendency to throw myself at a whole bunch of turning, after a long layoff, which I am inclined to do. While I have not yet triggered a problem, I have certainly come close.


9th Feb 2011, 04:43 PM
Yes, taking it easy and then building up is sensible.

Another option before launching into something that might cause a flare-up is to take a dose of paracetamol an hour beforehand. This stuff is both pain killer and anti-inflammatory.

As someone once said, old age is not for sissies ;-}

10th Feb 2011, 01:59 PM
As I have been intermittently visiting the forums lately, this is a late chime-in

Never too late to chime-in. I have found the experiences of others enlightening and helpful and thank you for sharing these with us. Glucosamine figures prominently in the posts and I'm hoping that it helps with me as well.
I am feeling a lot more hopeful about a return to woodturning now than I was when I first visited doctors and physios.

10th Feb 2011, 02:06 PM
Glad to see you're more optimistic Tiger. Yes, it can be a real downer when an ailment stops you doing what you love.

Just to add something: it appears that it works better for some folk when they use Glucosamine with Chondroitin added.

10th Feb 2011, 02:07 PM
Never too late to chime-in. I have found the experiences of others enlightening and helpful and thank you for sharing these with us. Glucosamine figures prominently in the posts and I'm hoping that it helps with me as well.
I am feeling a lot more hopeful about a return to woodturning now than I was when I first visited doctors and physios.

I think it's good to know that others deal with this kind of thing and continue to turn or work. I always thought it would be interesting to set up a table next to the instant gallery at a turnfest type event where we could compare scars and trade stories. Maybe healers , witch doctors and snake oil vendors could set up shop too.
Then again, maybe that is not such a good idea. :oo:

10th Feb 2011, 02:08 PM
Could be; snake oil finish might be a selling point ;-}

10th Feb 2011, 02:23 PM
Could be; snake oil finish might be a selling point ;-}
Perhaps a blend of snake oil and a jigger of the emu.:D

All kidding aside I spoke to a massage therapist friend and she reminded me of this one...
I found it to be very effective in an acute situation when combined with the Traumeel and massaged in.

<table border="0" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td colspan="2" valign="middle" align="left"> Chamomile, Morrocan Blue Essential Oil - 2ml </td></tr> <tr><td colspan="2" valign="middle" align="left"> </td></tr> <tr> <td rowspan="4" valign="top" align="center"> http://www.simplers.com/images/essential-oil.jpg </td> <td valign="top" align="left">

</td></tr> <form method="post" action="http://www.simplers.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?"></form> <input name="Action" value="ADPR" type="hidden"> <input name="Screen" value="PROD" type="hidden"> <input name="Store_Code" value="SBCL" type="hidden"> <input name="Product_Code" value="EOChM2" type="hidden"> <tr><td> </td></tr> <tr><td valign="top" align="left"> </td></tr> <tr><td> </td></tr> <tr><td colspan="2" valign="middle" align="left"> </td></tr> <tr><td colspan="2" valign="middle" align="left"> Tanacetum annuum
Certified Organic
Having the most chamazulene of all the blue oils, Moroccan blue chamomile has an intensely sweet scent and deep blue color. Valued for its natural antihistamine effect when dealing with hayfever, asthma and hives. Anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, non-specific red rashes and mild antiseptic. Use for eczema and dry skin. </td></tr></tbody></table>

10th Feb 2011, 03:12 PM
Some additional info from an old colleague of mine:

Not all glucosamines are the same. Some brands work better than others.

He confirms the chondroitin comment.

In his case, he had significant relief, (badminton player with back pain) but found that this faded after a year. Returning to it after a break, he again had an improvement but again temporary.

He also mentioned having heard that extremely high doses, (over 1000mg/day if I recall correctly), could show side effects. No confirmation of this though.


10th Feb 2011, 04:13 PM
Glucosamine Information Centre - Dosages and How to take (http://www.a1msm.co.uk/glucosamine-dosages.htm#7)

10th Feb 2011, 04:52 PM
There's some useful info there; thanks for posting it Aussie.

But it's not independent info since they flog the stuff.

10th Feb 2011, 09:03 PM
I used to buy glucosamine in powder form (1Kg drum), which contained MSM and Chondroitin. It can at times be bought for around $55 to $65.


17th Feb 2011, 07:05 AM
I use the supplement MSM, which is a glucosamine and other ingredient compound. Works great for me. Have to take it for a few days to get maximum effect.