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A question about hand health

I know this might be frowned upon because it’s not strictly a jewelry making question but my hands are part of my tools in my opinion. I had an accident a year ago that left me with my

arms and hands paralyzed. The Doctor said it would take a year to regain any movement again. Well it is now a year and i can use my left arm and hand 75% and my right hand(dominant) hand only 10%. It slowly improves a tiny bit every day but would love to know if any of you have had anything similar and what did you find helped strengthen your hand??

I can’t afford private Physio so need to do it myself.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Please don’t lecture me as to taking medical info from strangers as i wonder how other jewelers helped themselves with this problem.

Many thanks.

Sharron …at the beach in Mexico.


If your injury was a soft tissue one, versus structural (bones), you might try some some emu oil (RSD brand out of San Diego in CA). Not affiliated, but a lifelong fan of the products. I’ve done a rotator cup injury (right shoulder and i’m right handed), lateral posterior ligament on my left knee, driven myself to sciatica and worse. When I hurt my shoulder, my very first reaction was 9-1-1, an MRI and surgery within 5 seconds. I was in horrendous pain and incapacitated. I slowed myself down and started using it every 4 hours. It was Friday night and a three day weekend. No hospital was going to fix me before Tuesday so I surrendered to “how good is this stuff, REALLY?” 4.5 days of the straight oil and pain therapy formula alternating. Gone and it never recurred. Knowing friends my age who did shoulder surgery and had a horrible recuperation, i’m glad I took the emu oil route.

It’s saved my now 65yo proverbial hind quarter so many times more than I care to consider. They have a heat therapy formula, too (FDA approved). I buy mini cases of it, because my local pharmacy doesn’t carry it anymore. I take it with my on trips and never run low in my home.

Before I reach for anything, even an icepack or ibuprofen… I slather that stuff all over whatever I’ve injured.

It can’t hurt to try it. I feel for your being incapacitated to what a level that is a challenge to accept as a new normal.

Heal up and keep on creating! Let us know how your healing goes.


Greetings Sharron,

From your description this sounds like a spine/neck injury if it is affecting your arms and hands equally. I don’t know if my experience can help or not. I shattered my right wrist which required reconstruction and then five years to the day later I cut two fingers on my left hand requiring reattachment surgery. Essentially both are muscle/skeleton injuries with severe nerve damage to all the fingers of my left hand. In both cases the only way to get any return to ability was with physical therapy. And in both cases the therapist started me riding an air bike.

The air bike, you could use an air stepper, required me to push and pull on the hand drivers to exercise the the shoulders, elbows and wrists. For the wrist injury this made me flex the wrist to keep muscles from atrophying as well as stretching the muscles, ligaments, and blood vessels.

Because I couldn’t grip the handle bars with my reattached fingers I pushed and pulled with the heal of my left hand. This forced me to extend and compress my fingers. Again stretching and flexing the surgery sites, keeping the muscles and ligaments from atrophy while stretching and loosening scar tissue. For fine motor work I used an Autoharp to get back most of my finger dexterity.

Over all the therapy was successful. I had to learn to play guitar all over again each time. MY fine motor skills are not what they were but I can work. And after learning a new way to do it I play guitar and banjo again.

Shop work is a little different. But that is a different story and perhaps best sussed out by you at your bench.

Don Meixner

Hi Sharon,

Like Don I shattered my dominate right hand wrist and lower arm three years ago. I have so much metal holding it together I cant bend the wrist, nor move it side ti side much.

I did the PT for 2 months. Lots of things I can pass on. Wash dishes in hot water as hot as you can stand it. It warms the muscles and helps ease pain. In fact before any time you want to really use your hand, soak it in hot water for 10 to 15 mintes.

Next being able to control movements get some silly putty we use to play with as kids. If not it’s not to expensive to buy on Ebay. Ebay will have it as therapy putty. Just squeezing it helps to strengthen your hand but the movements of fingers and hand need more. For that get small objects like beads. Flatten the putty with your bad hand into a pancake on a table top. Place the beads one by one on the pancake with the bad hand. Still bad hand roll the pancake up into a ball burying all the beads. Oh make sure you know how many are in it. I did 20 at a time. Now with your bad hand ( when I say bad hand do not use your good hand to help it. Just the bad hand only) pinch the putty to find the beads and force them out. The first half will be easier than the last ones, so dont give up.

Get some old fashioned spring clothespins. Practice trying to open them. As you can hold it open for a few seconds, place them onto a cord strung up like a clothes line. After you get them all on, you now get to take them off.

Get a tennis ball. You can use the palm of your hand to roll it on a table. Try bouncing it on the floor and catching it. You can also squeeze it. It’s harder so only do the squeezing once you have gained a lot of strength.

Get a cribbage board with pegs. Practice with your bad hand putting those small pegs into the small holes.

Your shoulder on the right side also most likely has problems. Have a friend who does wood work, make two boards for you. One that has one inch holes in a line drilled into it. Then get a piece of dowel that is one inch in diameter. You’ll have to nail the board on the wall. Oh hopefully the board is 2 and a half feet long. The height of where it gets nailed on the wall should be with the bottom of the board about level with your shoulder. Now you get to start at the bottom of the board and put the dowel into the holes ( forgot make the holes with an inch between each hole) it gets harder the further you go up. The other board would have little strips (one inch by one inch the length of the short side of the board nailed to the board with a 3/4 inch spacing. This board nailed to the wall with the strips turned outward. For this board you will walk the fingers of your bad hand up the board.

Those things should be enough to get you going. They also work for your better hand just do them separetly.

Now that you would have worked your hand with the goal of 3 repetitions of each exercise. You will hurt. Reward yourself with a package of frozen peas. They make great ice packs that you refreeze. If the bag gets a hole, use duct tape to patch it. Just put a bag under the hand and one in top. Oh and put a small cloth top and bottom of your hand to protect against the surface of the bags of peas. 10 to 20 minutes of icing is all you need.

Another reward is to message you hand. This could also be the starting point if you hand cant flex well on it’s own. That is opening and closing it while not holding anything. Let me know how much you can do, and I’ll back track and get you moving it. That from when I had carpal tunnel surgery in 1990.

Sorry it sounds disjointed. My foot needs surgery and I took some pain meds an hour before. Hope all goes well. This takes time so compare one week to the next, not day to day. It might take you a year to see how far you can regain usage.

Aggie, breathing easier now that hurricane Dorian made it’s right turn

Aggie, thank you for this wonderful information.
About 5 months ago my hands started to seize, the right (dominant) has little strength, and all the fingers of my left need to be straightened by my right after fixturing anything while sawing. Frightening!

Your suggestions are spot on, some of which I’ve figured out to do.

Have an appointment with a rheumatologist in 2 more weeks.

I will try more of your suggestions to hopefully get some relief.

Thank you again!



Wow, what fabulous idea!!! I am starting today. I wish I had asked much sooner but better late than never.

I actually already have a tin of play dough so I am off hiding beads and making beads.

Again thank you! I will keep you posted as to how it goes.