Sunday, June 1, 2008

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

Image credit: Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group. (2001) A Patient's Guide to de Quervain's Tenosynovitis. in Hand University. accessed from on June 1, 2008.

I've been calling it an "extreme sewing injury." I first experienced pain in my thumb almost two years ago, the summer in which I helped move 4 school libraries (grasp books, pack books, unpack books, shelve books, reshelve books), typed a lot, and sewed non-stop with wonderful fabrics and trims just brought back from NYC. I've tried Advil, periods of rest, a support glove (which I lost), but inevitably the pain returns if I sew more than half an hour at a time.

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis is named for the Swiss doctor who first identified it in the mid 1890's. It is often called a repetitive stress injury, but some suggest that it is "idiopathic," having no known cause. All sewists, gardeners, crafters, etc. use the same muscles and wrist motions, and some develop this syndrome and others don't. The condition is caused by an irritation of the sheath that surrounds the tendons that go to the thumb. Some people feel or hear creaking as the tendon moves against the sheath.

Well, its back. And it hurts. I realized during this year's swap sewing that maybe the pain I felt while sewing made me enjoy it less. Imagine that! I finally went to the doctor. It is hard to explain why a diagnosis seems to make the condition more real.

The web documents suggest a recovery period of 4-6 weeks. I am not sure how I am going to stop sewing for that long, but I am determined to be a good patient, learn how to strengthen my wrist, take proper rest breaks, and set up my work area to be more ergonomic than it is now. I have ordered several books recommended for Marji's coat sew along, and I suppose I will read and dream while recovering.

1 comment:

Marji said...

oh, I'm so sorry. It's one of my worst nightmares, and I tend to just ignore some of the pains I get in my hands and wrists from repetitive knitting and sewing.
Hope there is some way to work around all this.
For the coat SAL you may want to consider the fusible method of interfacings to avoid a lot of the hand work that goes with shaping the lapel.