“How to beat aches and pains if you enjoy woodworking”
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Whether you’re finishing up that oak cabinet or crafting some toys for your grandkids, there’s something very therapeutic about woodworking.
It’s an opportunity to have some solitude, to build something that will give you and others some joy. It’s also an opportunity for PAIN!
Woodworking is a set up for neck pain. The long hours spent hunched over the workbench as well as any time spent extending (bending your head back) can lead to neck strain. This causes muscle aches in the neck and shoulders. You can also bet headaches. So what do you do? Well, first, recognize that this is going to happen if you don’t take frequent breaks particularly if you hold your head in one position for a long time. It’s a good idea to stretch before and after your woodworking sessions.
Your shoulders can also hurt. When you work with your arms held in one position… and especially if you work with your arms above shoulder level, you can run into a problem called impingement syndrome. This is when your rotator cuff tendons get pinched. It’s a common problem. Specific stretching exercises for the shoulder before and after you wood work should help. Also, make sure you take frequent breaks. Ice packs after you work sometimes help with the pain as do over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.
Elbow pain is a common problem after any type of repetitive arm motion. Using a hammer, saw, router, screwdriver, etc. can lead to painful condition called lateral epicondylitis. This is a type of tendonitis that affects the outside part of the elbow. Stretching before you work can help as can stretching and ice after you work. Anti-inflammatory medicines, an elbow band, and physical therapy also can help. For elbow tendonitis, the treatment of choice today is an injection of platelet-rich-plasma using ultrasound needle guidance. PRP heals tendon. The old treatment, cortisone, weakens tendon.
Hand and wrist pain is another common problem. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the median nerve into the hand gets pinched. This causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand. Treatment consists of physical therapy, a splint, and sometime injecting with steroid. In some instances, surgery is required. Different forms of tendonitis can also develop after wood working. You can get trigger finger where the finger seems to stick. A painful tendonitis of the thumb can also be a result of wood working.
Low back pain can come on from standing too long in one place or by lifting and carrying heavy articles. Make sure you lift with your legs. You may need to go down on one knee before you lift. Keep your back straight and your head up. Test the item you’re going to lift before you lift it. Don’t twist. Stretch before you woodwork and also afterward. Use ice packs if you strain your back. Over the counter medication can sometimes help also. See your doctor if the pain is severe or doesn’t go away within a day or two.
Knee pain can result if you’re not careful when you squat. Be careful not to go down too long or with too much weight.
Wear comfortable shoes to protect your ankles and feet.
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