Being an Artist with Tendinitis: drawing and carving with hand pain

Diagnosed with Tendinitis

In 2004 I was attending college and writing papers, doing drawings for class, taking college course notes, and learning American sign language. I was also note taker for the deaf and hard of hearing. It was too much work for my hands without proper preventative steps. I developed chronic pain that I still deal with to this day.

I saw a hand specialist in 2004 who probed my wrists and hands with needles to rule out carpel tunnel syndrome. They wanted me to go to therapy a few times a week at $75 or more. I did not have that kind of cash at the time so I set out on my own quest for relief. During this time I became immune to Ibuprofen’s helpful anti-inflammation from taking it too often.

I was put on on a prescription strength pain reliever to help dull the pain. I began to ask the ASL interpreters at work questions on hand exercises. I also read books on pain relief techniques, studied the anatomy of hands, and tried several herbal remedies for tendon and joint care.

Finding Pain Relief

This recent post contains the exercises, stretches, and relief techniques that I do on a daily basis. I have tried many things to help my hands, but these seven help the most. I discovered the hard way that splints only cause discomfort and atrophy, and atrophy makes the pain unimaginably worse. I also discovered not all supplements are equal. As well, I discovered dietary sensitivities I suspected might be lending to the injury (peanut butter, for one). Being an artist with tendinitis is a difficult hurdle to overcome.

As an artist it is important to take care of my hands. When I have flare ups of debilitating pain it can take days to weeks to recover. This can lead to bouts of depression, which can lead to more pain. It is important for me to do what I can to prevent flare ups. When the flare up is not avoided (or I am stubborn and ignore clues to an oncoming flare), I must take measures to heal quickly.

When Work Causes Pain

Recent work in my day job required an inordinate use of my hands which built to a severe flare up. Inflammation in my hand and wrists accompanied by intense pain woke me up one September 14th morning around 4am. Here is what my hands looked like half an hour from taking some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory that morning. I felt it coming on and, being stubborn, I just kept pushing it when I knew I should take preventive measures instead.

If you’ve ever experienced a repetitive motion injury, you are probably wincing in sympathy at that photo.

For a week I walked around work with a bag of icy water. In desperation to get the inflammation down after a week, I turned to a supplement that I’ve taken before: Inf-Zyme. I take it on an empty stomach with Collagen C. For the first week I took about 16 of these two pills a day. Here is my hand after taking Inf-Zyme for about a week.

Author: Colleen

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