View Full Version : Advice please (wrist pain)

03-10-2005, 10:21 AM
I am seriously considering switching mediums due to the pain in my hand and wrist everytime I use my pencils (posted about this in the a/w forum). Things is I love my pencils plus I'm kind of scared my work will be pretty bad in paint as opposed to what I do now.

Do you know of anything I can do to make it less painful to still use pencil? Special braces? Exercises? Anything?


03-10-2005, 10:29 AM
Oh Stalks I am so sorry you are having so much pain. What kind of pain is it? Athritis or more of a tendonitis type thing. Have you talked to a doctor? wanda

03-10-2005, 10:36 AM
That would be a shame if you had to stop working in CP! I can't advise on medicine/braces, but have you tried mixing other mediums to minimize your working time? You could start with an underpainting and then fill in the details with CP.

I know you like to work on black, for that maybe try some oil pastels? I have mixed the two, and it works just fine. Or for white paper, watercolor seems to be the easiest choice.

Hope you find a good solution!


03-10-2005, 10:50 AM

The pain is all through my fingers and down from the pinky all along the side of my hand and into my wrist, sometimes in the thumb.

I have to do a lot of typing at work which I'm sure doesn't help :(

Rosa Weitzel
03-10-2005, 10:55 AM
When I used to work in a health food store the recomendation for nerve pain in wrists and hands was the B vitimins B6 seemed to help a lot for carple tunnel problems. Are you a vegi person that eats little or no meat? This seems to be a big problem for this type. You could give it a try, like with all vitamins it takes a while to kick in, but the B's are quicker then most.

Good luck,

03-10-2005, 10:58 AM
Yes! There are tons of things you can do and you will beat this! Same thing happened to me. Carpal tunnel syndrome (there's another term but it escapes me at the moment). See your doctor and get a therapist to look at your wrist. They will give you exercises to do (stretching, weights etc) that willl help a lot. I took a break for a while (months) till I was better before going back into it. You need to not bend your wrist too far for a while. Wear a brace if you work to keep you from doing this. Your therapist will advise. No need to go to another medium unless you want to. But be very easy on your wrist for a time. It needs to heal. I still work a lot but I've changed a bit how I draw. I do stretching exercises before each session and I don't work non-stop for 12 hours. Take breaks, shake wrist loosely. You could use ice wrapped in a towel (but wrist must feel very cold) applied for 10 mins. several times a day. This will bring blood to your injured area and help the healing process. But see your doctor. And don't worry, it'll all work out. :)

03-10-2005, 11:03 AM
Btw, one bending exercise is placing your hand on a table or wall and leaning into it so the back of your wrist is stretched gently. Do this for 10 seconds several times in each session. Not too far but just so you feel a good stretch.

03-10-2005, 12:26 PM
Hi, Aleks! SOOO glad to see you here, but sorry for the reason... My advice is to move your computer mouse and force yourself to learn to use it with your left hand. When I managed secretaries, that one move nipped CTS in the bud. Mouse clicks cause more CTS than anything and all of the secretaries and attys use the mouse left handed now to save their wrists, it can be learned pretty quickly. Even if you do it left handed for part of the day and work up.

See your doc and get a brace.

Try to use your elbow motion rather than wrist motion to fill in. I do more holding of my pencil cupped in my palm. Sort of like I am holding my arm straight out and pointing toward the distance, but with the pencil inside. I don't have my regular computer or I'd show you. I can't do little details like eyes that way, but I prefer that now for fur, grass, etc., because I feel like I get a more natural look. And it's easier on the wrist.

Good luck, take care, and show us what beautiful cat you have up your sleeve! And kiss those absolutely adorable boys!!!

Katherine T
03-10-2005, 01:23 PM
there's another term but it escapes me at the momentTenusinovitis (but this is not carpal tunnel syndrome) - pain goes from your finger over the back of your hand to the outside of your wrist and up the side of your arm into your elbow - extraordinarily painful - plus swelling over the site of the inflamed tendon. I agree rest, careful flexing, use of ice on occasion all help. Being sensible is the best remedy - you just have to stop over-use for a period of time - and that can be months. Otherise you have to stop use altogether as gripping anything at all becomes too painful.

Wrist brace (with the metal insert to keep the palm of the hand rigid) helps as does physiotherapy (particularly the one where they do the sonic vibration to break up any tissue knots)

Watch it if you have to use NSAIDS as I did for my tenusinovitis to kill the pain - I ended up with a bleeding ulcer - not pleasant. (This website is going to have my complete medical history before very long!!!)


03-10-2005, 01:40 PM
(This website is going to have my complete medical history before very long!!!)


Post them all at once and get it over with Katherine. LOLOL

Thanks for the term btw. :)

Katherine T
03-10-2005, 02:08 PM
Post them all at once and get it over with Katherine. LOLOLNah - it gets very gory after the soft tissue injuries/problems and the cysts and the eyes. You'd go weak at the knees! :D


03-10-2005, 02:22 PM

I suffer from repetitive motion syndrome in both hands, due to computer overuse. Physical therapy, medication, and a caring doctor helped me minimize the pain. You need to know the exact nature of your injury. While many people are familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome, there are many other ways to cause numbness, pain, and/or tingling in the hand and fingers. It is vital that you know exactly WHY you are experiencing this. It may be your hand. It may be damage to your elbow. It may be damage to the muscles in your neck and shoulder. Only your physician is qualified to assess the root of your problem.

Robin is exactly right--mice (as in Computer) are EVIL! If you are right-handed, learn to use your mouse with your left. Your IT staff can get you a bisexual mouse. At least switch hands at lunchtime. Typing itself is kinder and gentler than gripping a mouse. The gripping/pinching motion is a real killer.

Have an ergonomic assessment of your workstation. A 1" adjustment to your computer keyboard can make a world of difference. Make an ergonomic assessment of your art workstation as well.

Your physical therapist will give you the appropriate stretches and exercises for your condition. If you don't already do upper body workouts, consider doing so. The final step in my physical therapy program was to increase my "core strength".

As you can see from the outpouring here, there's a LOT you can do, without giving up your pencils. First, see your physician. Second, see your physical therapist. Third, let us know how you are feeling. It can take months to heal the damage, but you CAN get better. :D

03-10-2005, 02:33 PM
Thank you!

I'm going to get in touch with the ergonomic people this week. They're really big on that where I work.

Then I'm going to figure out a time to see my doctor.

I'm also thinking I can do a lot of basic blending using Turpenoid instead of the colorless blender pencil which should save me a lot of damage right?

03-10-2005, 03:51 PM
I have Capal Tunnel in both wrists. I wear braces on both hands at night, and it really helps! I used to wake up in the AM, and not be able to feel the alarm clock to shut it off. Since wearing the braces, I have had NO problems - night OR day! Ask your Dr., there's surely something to help!
Bets wishes for a speedy recovery!t

03-10-2005, 03:54 PM
I am sorry Alecs! :(

From seeing other people affected I find it is VERY important to do something before the damage is too bad. An ergonomic (split or curved) keyboard comes to mind to relieve tendon fatigue from typing, as it allows the hands to adopt a more natural position. And definitely a brace to spare the tendons. Some stretching exercises can backfire if not done gently, therefore advice from a physiotherapist is very helpful.

Don't wait to get help! :)

03-10-2005, 11:11 PM
Aleks, using terpenoid to blend will help, I'm sure! So sorry this thread started from your distress, but I think it is excellent for info and for prevention. I'm going to rate it as I think it would be excellent, to have to refer to as necassary.
I'm looking forward to hearing how you improved :D


03-11-2005, 03:01 AM
I have problems in that area too, carpal tunnel syndrome, a cyst in amongst the small bones of my wrist and arthritis in my wrists, elbows, shoulders and fingers. I'm young but have used my hands a LOT. Anyways, I use a brace when I'm drawing and the pains bad, most of the time I don't bother. I always use a sheet of tissue paper to rest my hand on as I'm drawing to prevent smudging, and I just added a folded up flannel/facecloth type thing under my wrist to prevent pressure from my hand resting on the hand surface and it made a big difference. Just don't give up!

Katherine T
03-11-2005, 04:47 AM
As Kathy indicated it is really as important to pay attention to all the areas of your life where you do things other than drawing with your hands. Making adjutsments in these areas will help to keep your hands in better shape for drawing.

So as well as making sure you've got a keyboard which works comfortbaly for you (and the main change I made was to have a soft touch one with the little legs - I can no longer use a clicky one as the vibration sets off my hand problems) I also use wide handled kitchen implements (called 'good grips' over here) to reduce the amount of gripping I need to do.

You can also get a rubber/plastic grip to put on pens and pencils to make them wider and easier to grip. If you bought a load, you could theoretically use them on all the pencils you're working with. Most disability advisers can tell you how to get hold of these. Here's a link to an example of the type I use http://www.expresschemist.co.uk/product_3378_PEN562Q.html but I'm sure there will be other makes and suppliers in the USA. (Actually I'm quite glad I've just done that seach as I didn't think I could get them online!!!) These are especially helpful when things are very helpful and you have to use a brace as well.


Flame Lily
03-11-2005, 07:59 AM
Aleks, using terpenoid to blend will help, I'm sure! So sorry this thread started from your distress, but I think it is excellent for info and for prevention. I'm going to rate it as I think it would be excellent, to have to refer to as necassary.
I'm looking forward to hearing how you improved :D


Yes :( this must be awful to deal with.
I've rated the thread too!

03-11-2005, 08:15 AM
This is definitely a helpful thread. I'm only 22 and I already have hand and wrist problems from the computer, drawing, and playing percussion (by themselves not bad together and I put a lot of stress on my hands). I use wrist braces, have a mousepad with a gel wrist rest, apply ice often and I still have problems so I'm going to definitely try some of the other suggestions.

03-11-2005, 09:03 AM
As you can tell from the outpouring, many people experience hand and arm distress these days!

I am always looking for "cheats" to speed up the colored pencil process. Putting down washes first using watercolor helps me a lot. I don't know anything about watercolor, but I'm pretty happy with just slopping on large areas of color to get rid of the white of the page.

After seeing Larsnip's work, I've also started using a solvent--Zest It--which is natural and non-toxic. Here's a link:

Zest It (http://www.zest-it.com/index.htm)

She shipped it here to me in the States and it came very quickly. I bought the small "pencil blend" to try out, and am ready to buy more! :D I love how it it "melts" the pencil. If you want to see what it looks like when it "melts" the pencil, I just learned how to do a simple sort of slide show of a WIP. If you look at my website, click on the cherries above "View Work in Progress" and you can see how the solvent gets rid of both the pencil strokes and the white of the page. It's VERY crude--but I hope you get the idea.

Turpenoid and others like that ARE toxic. Zest it is all natural and makes your studio smell yummy! :D

Studio Under The Stairs (http://www.Studiounderthestairs.com)

All the folks who have posted have great ideas on relieving the pain and stress to your body. Definitely get your workstation checked out. Your employer will want to avoid any worker's comp claims. Take care of yourself before the damage gets any worse! Keep us posted on what your doctor says.

03-11-2005, 07:04 PM
An equivalent to the UK Zest-it is a Canadian product: Eco-House Extra mild citrus thinner. Check http://www.eco-house.com/ , also available in the USA.

I have a pair of support gloves that come without the fingertip parts, and have small pads about the area the palm joins the wrist. They help me with arthritis pain. They are usually advertised in craft magazines...

03-11-2005, 07:53 PM
Thanks for the info re our local "Zest-it' Raquel!!! :clap:


03-11-2005, 08:35 PM
Raquel--thank you for the link!!!

Katherine T
06-26-2005, 04:54 AM
Problems with pain in your hand

First off, whenever anybody gets pain in their hand, go see your doctor and see if they can work out what's going on. Do not put it off.

A number of us have problems with damage to soft tissue in their hands , sometimes caused by repetitive stress - getting the layers down on great big blue skies spring to mind - and in another thread a discussion started about carpal tunnel syndrome.

I promised I'd post photos of my wrist brace - the make is Futuro and it says it's made in the USA. The first photo shows what it looks like when laid out - plus I've pulled the metal bit out of its little jacket so you can all see why it's a "brace". You don't move that any too easily.


Next one is on my hand - where it doesn't look like I've fastened it any too expertly - but I was trying to work out at the time how I was going to take the photo!


And the answer - with extreme difficulty! This is my right hand, I'm right handed, the button for taking the shot is on the right side of the camera. Did it in the end - thank goodness for those little screens, although I could only see the top half of it when left hand hit the button!

Anyway, the hand is kept rigid and anybody with tendonitis or tenosynovitis (which is what I have in my right drawing hand) can get relief from pain when the nerves start jangling - and I'm suggesting it might help carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers too.

(This information was originally inserted in a couple of other threads but it was suggested it would be useful to go in this one too)

06-26-2005, 11:59 AM
Hi Aleks, I'm sure you can ease the problem so you don't have to change medium.
I suffer from tenosynovitis, caused by overuse of the computer, complicated by grooming a pack of Rough Collies, playing the piano and drawing. My Doctor advised me to wear a sling for two or three days when the pain is really bad, at the very least it stops you using the wrist.


06-26-2005, 02:11 PM
Hi Aleks,

I do transcription all day most days and what helps me the most is a pair of transcription gloves and a gel keyboard wrist guard and a mouse pad that has a gel wrist guard also. You can get the gel wrist things at Staples or Office Depot, even Wal-Mart sometimes. I get the gloves from here www.softflex.com/ordering.php. It may or may not be carpal tunnel. I've been using these gloves for years to prevent CTS. If I type for even ten minutes without them, my wrists start to get tender. But as long as I use them I have no problem.

here are pics of what I'm talking about:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Jun-2005/24406-keyboardwristpad.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Jun-2005/24406-mousepad.jpg

Maybe you already know about this stuff, but since no one else said anything about it, I thought I'd drop it in.

Good luck and like everyone has said see your doctor.

06-27-2005, 06:49 PM
I conduct a lot of health research for humans and pets. I have arthritis and carpal tunnel. I was in braces. I had xrays taken and it showed arthritis in thumb joints. I tried glucosamine sulfate (best kind) in pill form and did nothing for me over 2 yrs. I have been taking Source Naturals Glucosamine MSM liquid now for 2 months and also a good organic quality cold water fish oil (no metals) (great antinflamitory) and i have NO pain now. It asctually rebuilds joints, most people do not know this. Your body naturally supplies this substance but as age approaches us :( it begins to breakdown. By the way, our body converts crondrotin from glucosamine so don't worry about getting that addition. I purchase mine from iherb.com which gives you 20% off your order also. Believe it or not, it taste great!!! Hope this helps.

06-27-2005, 07:48 PM
Thank you for the information Janet! :) I have been taking Glucosamine capsules for two years, and even though the pain is less than it was, my two thumbs still hurt quite a bit, especially before a drastic weather change...

06-28-2005, 08:12 AM
Like i mentioned, the capsules never did much for me over the two yr period as well. The LIQUID is absorbed into your body much better. That brand also may be the trick.

06-29-2005, 04:42 PM
I have a similar problem and love my soft pastels and pastel pencils

06-29-2005, 04:48 PM
Raquel's Eco-House solvent is the same solvent that I used on the background of my glass and lemons piece. I found it quite good, and very inocuous in smell. It worked very well. Hadn't realized it was Canadian, but it is available in Dick Blick stores and the catalog as well as their own site. I would use it again and recommend it to anyone in the Americas as being a little more easy to get than the Zets-it is. :wave:

06-29-2005, 05:25 PM
Raquel's Eco-House solvent is the same solvent that I used on the background of my glass and lemons piece. I found it quite good, and very inocuous in smell.

not to mention, damn fine with a little bit of gin and ice. :D


06-29-2005, 07:13 PM
Yeah! The Eco-House solvent is not bad at all... Hic! ;)

I was wondering... My drawing board is almost vertical, to save me from neck (and resulting headaches) tension. As a result, I don't put much pressure with my hand on the board. Would that be something for others to try? I wouldn't be doing any drawing if I had to bend over as I have seen Maggie do at her show... :eek: I have an office chair, sit up straight, tuck my legs underneath the board support, and work with my back straight. My arms are strengthening slowly, LOL...

Katherine T
06-29-2005, 07:29 PM
Yeah! The Eco-House solvent is not bad at all... Hic! ;) Raquel!!!:eek: