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Dentists Thumb

My left thumb has been paining me for a couple months so I decided
to go see the Doc yesterday. He poked and prodded and said he usually
sees this condition in Dentists. The odd angles they hold tools while
working in your mouth usually makes them retire early from hand
problems. It’s from me bearing into the wheel when I’m roughing out

He wrapped it up and told me to rest it. My son happened to be with
me and said, “Yeah right. You don’t know my dad.” So he advised me to
keep on a double dose of Alieve and get a brace that holds my thumb
in a neutral position. And take numerous breaks or get my apprentice
(my son) to do the cutting for me. I told him I could try using dop
sticks but wasn’t guaranteeing anything.

No time to rest it now. I’ve got to get at least 2000 cabs done for
the Denver show.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Hi Rick I know that condition, first it happened in my left thumb
then my right. I did hand therapy and the best info the therapist
gave me was to wear bycicle gloves to pad my hands while using any
tool that required vibration through my hand. I believe your problem
is called trigger thumb and one of mine went away with a cortisone
shot (this one hurts). The other went away with surgery (about 7
years ago).

remember to keep stretching your hands. And something else that
helps and your wife will like this one. Hot wax hand dips. You can
buy one inexpensively from Bed Bath and Beyond. It is water that is
infused with special oily wax. You dip your hand in it about 6
times, wrap your hand in a plastic baggie or something and when it
is cool just peel the wax off and put it back in the pot. This warms
up those areas in your hand and relaxes it. as well as moisturinzes
your beautiful hands.

This is what I paid the physical therapist for and now do at home
and my hands are so much better.

so, review:
bycicle gloves
stretch hands
cortisone shot (to remover the inflamation)
hot wax dip

feel better and keep in touch
Jennifer Friedman

Rick, I know you have a lot to do, but it will only get worse without
rest. I had a proper splint made by a physical therapist, and found I
was able to do a surprising amount while wearing it…and still keep
my thumb in the neutral position. Getting a glove over it was a bit
tricky. I ended up having to have surgery to repair it, but that was
more due to my physiology than anything else. It has been 23 years. I
have to take breaks every 1/2 hour to alleviate some pesky nerve
irritation, but I have to do that for my back anyway, so it’s good
all around. The nerve irritation is a relatively new thing, and is
due to scar tissue. Some ice during breaks will help also.


Try acupuncture, I am a strong proponent of it, and currently
undergoing treatment.


Yowch! I get that sometimes. Usually from clamping down hard when
piercing. I find light exercise to help. And martinis.


I have a similar story and now wear a brace but at Mass General they
call it a splint. I believe it really helps me prevent further
damage. I work in it, drive in it and sleep in it. It is a micro
fiber and I wash it every few days.

Good luck.
Mary A.
Jewelry for the Journey

I’m having left thumb problems, too… creeping into my wrist, even.
I’ve been attributing it to wanting to hone my new repousse skills
and not quite being mentally able to let loose of the death-grip I’ve
got on the tool in my left hand.

I’m working on a tool to hold the tool, but still give me enough
tactile feedback, hoping that will lessen the impact on my body,
because I’m really happy with the results I’m getting. “Percussive
therapy” while creating beautiful objects is quite simply “as good
as it gets”. :slight_smile:

Thanks to all that responded off and on list with condolences and
recommendations. Looks like I’m in pretty good company with thumb
problems. Friday I bought the splint my doctor recommended and worked
all weekend with it on. It was a bit cumbersome with shaping silver,
holding things for grinding and polishing, and it felt like I was
holding the torch wrong but I struggled through and adjusted to it. I
did a little cutting tonight and it work out well. The splint keeps
my thumb up and out of the way so it’s giving my thumb a good rest.
It’s made of neoprene and nylon so it doesn’t harm it to get wet. I
took it off tonight to let it dry out and my pruney hand to return to
normal and my thumb feels pretty good.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Some thumb/hand issues with me too after 24 yearsat the bench.
Chiropractic is helping.Seems neuropathy is setting in from
repetitive motionand tenseness in the arms/neck/shoulders every day.
Hang in there everyone… we only got one body!


Hot wax hand dips.

That takes me back to my first job when I left school in 1981. I
worked at the hospital in the physiotherapy department. They had a
large tank of thermostatically-controlled hot wax that was used for
such therapy. The physiotherapists (I think you call them physical
therapists in the States?) would hold their clinics for patients
with hand and foot injuries, with the wax dips at the start, then it
was wrapped to keep the heat in for a while, then exercises once the
wax had been peeled off. The used balls of wax were put into a large
water boiler - the sort used to boil large quantities of water for
making tea and coffee when catering to large groups of people (it
was of course never used for drinks, but kept specifically in the wax
therapy room for this purpose). The wax would obviously melt and
float to the top of the water and it would be switched off last
thing before the department closed for the day.

My first job everyday was to remove the large disc of wax from the
top of the boiler, up-end it and scrape off the top centimeter or so
of wax which contained hair, dead skin and the odd toe/finger nail -
yuk, yuk, yuk!!! I hope none of you are eating when you read this!
Once I got down to completely clean wax, the disc was put back into
the hot wax tank and would slowly melt and replenish the tank.

Disgusting story aside - the hot wax therapy that Jennifer describes
is indeed a very pleasant and invigorating experience that leaves
your joints much more free so that you can exercise them, and your
skin beautifully soft. Try it, you’ll like it.


Accupuncture is wonderful for all manner of Musclar/skeletal
injuries and some nerve pain. I screwed my shoulder badly which
affected my left hand and arm. Nothing helped more. And it didn’t
bother me a girl with a pathological fear of needles. Try it if you


At one time my thumb hurt so much that even signing my name would
set off a two hour, sometimes all day ache fest. I started to take
Feldenkrais lessons and gradually learned to move with my whole body
rather than put all the stress in my thumb and fingers or wrists or
elbows or shoulders.

I took so many lessons (because I also had Fibromyalgia and hurt
everywhere) that I became a Feldenkrais practitioner.

The first day that I was able to saw silver for seven hours straight
without feeling any pain anywhere either that evening or the next
day, I was over the moon happy! It’s all a process of relearning and
re-training your nervous system. It takes some time, but it’s well
worth it.


Morning All,

I read through all the public responses on this thread, and picked
up on a word or two, which led me to another post I had seen and
parked into my memory bank, tool grips.

There is a gent online who alludes to his Tool Tips as Frankentools,
or similar. He has an online tutorial regarding our Jewelers Saw.

This was a very big AHA to me, and I do believe would also apply to
all tool use pain or discomfort. Bottom line, is he suggests using a
moldable plastic to reshape your tool handle to comfortably fit
within your hand. I imagine that may alleviate “death grip