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


Who’d have thought that knitting could cause injuries? I haven’t poked a needle in my eye but my shoulder is sore and the pain is limiting what I can do.

On the plus side I have been forced to try different techniques like Portuguese and Continental knitting, but I am wondering if other knitters out there get sidelined by pain and what you do to keep on knitting? Ice? Heat? Rest? Anti-inflammatory meds? A Caribbean vacation? Or, as last resort, a visit to the doctor?


Ugh. I can relate to this!
I’ve found that the Continental Style of knitting is much less stressful, but my hands get achy when I’m on a deadline, or using needles with 4" shafts or yarn without a lot of bounce…
TigerBalm is what I use - in addition to stretches and a little rest.
I hope this is helpful.


Well, personally I think the Caribbean vacation sounds like the best option.:wink:

My shoulder gets sore all the time, and I usually just use heat on it, (I have one of those rice bags you put in the microwave). Sometimes unfortunately, the only thing that works is a day or two off.


Trying other ways to knit would be my first suggestion – and I see you’re already working on that – but I would caution you against switching up a way of knitting in the middle of a project as you will likely suffer gauge shift.

I’m a continental knitter, so my pains are usually limited to thumb flexing muscles and the backs of my forearms. I had a massage therapist once who thought she would invent a sling for American style knitters, a place to rest elbows to relieve the stress on their shoulders. Do you knit with pillows about you for support? I know some people who do.

I get aches in my 53 year old hands a lot when I’m cramming to a deadline, and I have to knit through it, sadly. I take ibuprofen, stretch, and hope that the overnight non-knitting (also known as sleep) will be enough to stave off thunder knuckles. I do take days off when that happens, as soon as the knitting is completed. What I do on my days off is prepare for more knitting! I gaze at my queue, sort my stash, sketch, sometimes write patterns out. But it’s all about pacing myself and remembering I’m not 24 anymore (!).


I take breaks. Probably after 30 or 45 minutes and flex my fingers and hands.


The shoulder pain persists but I think it is getting better. I can knit a little now and I am messing around with pillow supports and posture. My joints and muscles are 65 y.o. and they think that is a long time to be working for me, but I don’t. A pal popped in the other day and massaged my shoulder, made me a gin and tonic, and we smoked a bowl. . . (legal her in MA). I must say I hadn’t been that pain free in a week. However I can’t knit under those conditions. My daughter is getting married here at our house in 2 months and this shoulder has a lot of raking and gardening to do. Heal baby heal.


I had wrist pain, which was actually due to tightness in my shoulder. I tried many different things. I go to a chiropractor regularly for other issues and that did not do the trick. One PT, who also did acupuncture, told me I was probably a person who just couldn’t knit for very long.
Finally, after almost two years of trying different things, got relief with a practitioner of massage and acupuncture. I went very frequently at first, but now just go for tune ups. I also use a rice bag heated in the microwave on my shoulder each night.
It may take you a while to find what works for you. Good luck.


Thanks Melissa…I had not thought of acupuncture. I will check into that today. xo


practitioners differ as well. One told me I was someone who could probably only knit 45 minutes a day or so. (I’ve since done many hours per day.) She was much more a western medicine person.
Hope you find some relief!


I would take frequent breaks, definitely ice and ibuprofen.Pain means stop!


Hey did you guys watch the Susan B. Anthony video posted the other day? I think it was the March Madness post. Anyway, she talked about Carson Demers who has a book on ergonomic knitting coming soon.


My advice is to slow down. Probably all the yard work did you in. If it hurts you to knit, you need to stop. Don’t make it worse. If you go to a doctor, ask for physical therapy. My experience is that doctors want to prescribe medication, which helps temporarily. A PT order isn’t the solution that comes to their mind so you have to ask for it. A physical therapist can give a deep massage etc that will help real ease your tight muscles and get you on the road to healing. Good luck. Hope you feel better soon.


Haven’t tried that! Legal in my state too. Maybe next time. I tend to get a sore neck from some kinds of knitting. I can’t figure out how to relax when I knit.


Carson Demers is fantastic. If you go to a knitting conference where he is a featured speaker, sign up if you possibly can!


I have the same problem! I couldn’t tell whether it was from knitting or yoga, which I also do daily. Probably a little of both. I was able to narrow the pain source down to my triceps rather than my shoulder. So triceps stretches have worked well for me.


Thanks Marianne. I am marveling at how hard it is to slow down. It is a great chance to organize digital photos and read. So it is not all bad. I will ask for PT and when this is over I will pay more attention to my old body.


I know, knitting can put me in a zone, but it is not always relaxing. xo


Fluoroquinolone family of pharmaceuticals like Cipro causes damage to connective tissue and can lead to arthritis. Their use has been band in children and teens for this reason. There are divided camps on whether it is damaging in adults. They were supposed to only have been prescribed for the most resistant cases but have become more widely used. I am from both a medical and pharmaceutical family but I take a conservative route and ask for alternatives to this family of drugs. Up until the past few weeks I have had very sharp pain at the base of my thumb for the last two years. I could not grasp a glass being handed to me at a restaurant nor tolerate my youngest son holding my hand in a parking lot. I believe my middle son noticed I started having trouble opening the car door handle because at the same time he started quickly stepping in front and opening​ the door for me even when he is angry with me.


I had this happen to me last year after working on knitting project with a deadline. I could not knit for 2 weeks, even though I was taking frequent breaks and resting. I used the downtime to clean up my knitting bags, plan new projects, read, and I did a lot of coloring. I have been more mindful about taking even more breaks and mixing up my WIPs so I’m using a variety of needle sizes so I can switch between them. Good luck!


I like the idea of mixing up projects. After doing the Helicals I developed trigger finger - WHAT? - Doc said he could give me an injection but decided to just take a break for a few days. If it happens again I will try switching it up.