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Arthritis and dolls

Sep 14, 2016

    1. I just got diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and while I've been coping pretty well with the news, I am worried about what it means for me with doll customizing, as I enjoy faceups and am branching into permanent modifications and sculpting.
      So does anyone with a similar diagnosis have experience to share or advice for how to continue enjoying the hobby without damaging my joints further? I'm going to be bringing a couple dolls and some customization supplies in to my occupational therapist to get her advice on how to adapt my techniques to be hand safe, but I'd love to hear from anyone with first hand experience. Did you have to give up on certain doll sizes? Or stop specific crafts for them? How do you adapt things with your dolls so that you don't hurt yourself?
    2. Wish I could help you. I have osteo arthritis, but I have never tried doing faceups. I think it is a great idea for you to ask your therapist - I'm sure she will be able to help!
    3. I have rheumatism in my wrists. Of course it depends on where yours is. Definitely bringing things along to show your therapist is a great idea!! I know that for mine, wearing compression gloves helps tremendously!! I don't do face ups but the gloves allow me to draw, paint, fiddle with little beads and hand-sewing, etc. I can go for a lot longer, and if I put the gloves on before I start for the day, I can avoid most of the pain. Without them, it will start to hurt, I won't be able to grasp anything, and my right wrist starts to get puffy. The gloves are a lifesaver for me!! I hope you find the right things to help manage yours!! :)

      Edited to add: I also just remembered a set of crochet hooks I have, with fat, ergonomic handles. These are awesome! Something like that for your paintbrushes and sculpting tools would probably help a lot too.
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    4. I second the compression gloves! They have helped me so much. The ones I have are Imak brand, although I'm sure other brands would work well too.
    5. I swear by acupuncture for anything as it can move energy to help yor body get back to normal. I wish you the best of luck and have heard the gloves really help. A crazy thing: about a decade and a half I accidentally cut one of my fingers half off and sliced teh tendon bad enough where they had to go in and sew it up as I do allot of beadwork was really concerned and was sitting out back and went to pick a flower with my injured hand that I had taken everything off of so it could heal in the air and managed to get stung by a bee almost right on the spot. It hurt but later on it seemed to have helped and I have heard that bee stings are used to help that with your hands successfully
    6. I have sever arthritis in my right wrist (the wrist has been broken twice and never set either time so it healed badly) as well as tendinitis in my right forearm. While I have zero skills for face-ups, I am right-handed so just doing regular stuff like typing (I'm also an author) or constant mouse use (my day job is architecture so LOTS of mouse using) or anything with constant repetitive motions (I also knit) makes my wrist and tendon scream at me.

      I wear a wrist brace that keeps my wrist in a static position with minimal movement of the joint (similar to the braces for carpal tunnel but with a bit more range of motion). This helps most of the time. When I really start to feel pain, I'll stop what I'm doing (when possible) and simply let the joint rest and do nothing with it (I'll watch a movie or some anime or read a book). Best advice is to listen to your body and when you start to feel pain/heat or see swelling, stop so you don't aggravate it more. Yeah, it sucks to have to take things slower than you're used to, but you can adjust to the new way you'll need to work at things.
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    7. Look up stuff about quilters and quilting with arthritis. There are a number of resources in that area of crafting, and I'll bet some of the advice would work well in the doll area too. If your medical people say it would not hurt you, look into getting massage. Sometimes pain in one part of the body makes you tense up other parts without realizing it, to compensate and cope with it.
      Also, a lot of time with long term conditions, they recommend mindfulness and meditation as a way to help yourself. I have been fortunate that my practitioners recognize that doing a craft or art that you enjoy is in a lot of ways a form of meditation, along with the sitting and breathing sort of meditation :)
      Good luck and best wishes!!!
    8. I think you've got some good advice here. Just one more thing, because it never hurts to try stuff... Have you looked into eating an anti-inflammatory diet? I know it sucks to have a restricted diet at first, but it can really help people. I know a woman who had severe pain in her hands from arthritis, and she cut out all grains, dairy, and sugar from her diet, and started taking Zyflammend, which is an herbal anti-inflammatory you can get from any ol health food store. (It's not cheap). Obviously, everyone's different, but it helped her get rid of her pain and slight disability almost entirely. Also, my husband has a medical condition that causes a lot of inflammation around the nerves in his brain. He too has adapted a much more strict version of this diet, and it has really helped him a lot. It might be worth some research.
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    9. I injured my hands very badly from overuse when I was in college and had to wear compression gloves to control the swelling and pain on both hands for several months afterward. I highly recommend compression gloves if the source of your pain is in your wrists or palm (mine is mostly in my palms). My hands were never the same afterward though. They pretty much hurt a little bit all the time now and I can no longer grip objects very well.

      If you arthritic hands it would be a very good idea at this point to ask your doctor or physical therapist about gentle stretching exercises you could use to prevent injury from repetitive movement. My personal advice is to listen to your body. Try not to get so caught up in your work that you push yourself past the point of pain. Take frequent breaks to stretch and evaluate how your body feels. If it is physically difficult for you or painful it's probably not a good idea.

      I think the best way to continue to do what you like to do for as long as possible is to monitor your body (so that you don't accidentally over-tax your joints) and to make sure that you are using the most efficient tools for every job so that you don't make these tasks harder on your body than they need to be.
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    10. oh yes, lots more good points made here!! I just wanted to pop back in to share these two videos for hand & wrist yoga. I love them and I think it's very important to keep your hands as flexible as possible. Use it or lose it definitely applies in this case. Of course, check with your therapist first. :)

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    11. I have EDS which comes with a fair bit of hand and wrist pain and overall fragility in my case, and I think my main piece of advice would be to break tasks down into small portions so you don't overwork your hands! For example if you were doing a faceup, break it up into sections like the eyes, the blush, and the lips, and rest your hands for a few minutes between each thing. Like as an example, I have trouble writing by hand. I can only manage a couple sentences at a time, so if I need to fill out a form or something, I break it into portions and take a few minutes between each part to rest my hand. :) And always make sure you're wearing any needed braces/splints/compression gear while doing things.

      I also find SD size dolls to be a little easier on me. They're a bit heavy, but their larger size makes for a less hand-crampy time when working with them, at least for me, because I'm not pinching my fingers so tightly from trying to fiddle with something ultra tiny.

      And if it's possible, don't be afraid to ask someone for help if it would be easier on you to have someone else hold something for you while you work, yank elastics around, etc!
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    12. I don't have any good advice, but I did want to say thank you to everyone posting solutions in this thread. M great grandfather had arthritis so bad that he wasn't even able to uncurl his fingers at all, and my mom has it too. She hasn't been able to tolerate any of the medication for it, so she only takes tylenol and just copes with the pain. A few weeks ago, I noticed that my own fingers were getting stiff, swollen and painful, and after talking to my mom, I'm pretty certain it's the start of arthritis--it sounds exactly like her first symptoms, and I'm just a few years younger than she was when hers started. My first concern was that I'd have to stop most of this hobby, and it upset me so much that I haven't even been to the doctor yet because I'm afraid of having my fear confirmed. I hope I'm wrong, but just in case I'm right, thanks for all the med-free solutions. I'll share them with my mom too. She's not in the hobby herself, but she is very crafty and likes helping make things for my and my sister's dolls!
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    13. I think that to keep your joints active is very important whatever sort of arthritis you have ( I have severe OA in thumbs) and it keeps them going. My father in law had bad RA and he took up tapestry for that very reason. Use splints and support gloves as required and when it hurts stop for a bit. Use various medications as prescribed and be hand aware and reduce as much stress on them as possible - I now have a kindle as books are too heavy for example.
      Occupation therapists are brilliant people and keep on taking the tablets - espec for RA people as they are disease modifiers ( I'm a doc myself so deal with this sort of thing alot)
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