Hand Problems

Following is a story for consideration. Several years ago, I
began waking up each morning with little twinges of pain in my
knuckles. I thought, “Where’s this coming from?” since there’s
no arthritis, etc., on either side of my family. I finally
deduced that the pain was due to the fact that I like to sleep
on my side, with my hands together under my head. I "trained"
myself to put my hands underneath my pillow (or, at least, not
under my head), and that was the end of the pain. I wish that
everyone’s hand problems were this easily solved! This thread
makes for an interesting discussion, even though I (thank God!)
do not have hand problems.

Judy Bjorkman

Nutritional supplements may help too. Try Athred. It’s a
patented product. Used to be available only in one product, now
is more available in regular stores. The powdered product will
be called something else “Joint Free” is one brand, but read the
label and look for Arthred. I’ve been taking it for over a year
for my wrist/elbow and it helps a lot.

You might also try shark cartilage, which is widely available.

I assume you wear/wore braces as well? It’s horrible, as
jewelers, to lose the use (or partially lose) of our hands.
When I was having trouble I joked that nobody wanted a one armed
jeweler. Even having trouble doing “daily living skills” is
frustrating, much less losing one’s livelihood.

I didn’t have a problem as serious as yours, Jesse. I am pretty
much all better now. I tried a lot of different things, not
sure what finally worked. Some time away from jewelry in a
different job may have helped. I still keep up the Arthred, use
a pen mouse (mentioned in previous post), don’t sleep on my
hands, and take breaks while working at the bench. I also just
don’t do certain things any more, out of concern that they will
trigger a bad relapse. It seemed like the problems would never
end, and I dispaired that I would have to give up the bench
completely, but I didn’t…and I’m okay now.

Not the most inspiring tale ever, but my hands are okay.


Many of my friends with arthtritic problems have nearly cured
themselves by taking gelatin- found in markets, Jello without the
sugar. They mix it in water and drink a small packet a day. They
also take the calcium that is in Minute maid (with calcium) as
that type ( can’t remember - anyone have any advice for bad
memory) unlike most is readily absorbed by the body.

as Peter Rowe likes to say, “Hope that helps”, Peter Slone

Thanks Elaine,

I will look for the Arthred, and the pen mouse. I just bought a
supply of MSM. The person at the health food store advised using
it with vitamin C 500- 100 mg.) for better absorption. I’m hoping
that will help, too. I do wear the braces, probably not as often
as I should. As yuou mentioned, I try to sleep with my hands
free, it was suggested to hug a body pillow, which is available
at K-mart or a drug store. By virtue of the fact that I’m being
treated through workman’s comp, I had an excellent work site
assessment . The ergonomics consultant from the Ocupational
Health Clinic @ UCONN was formally a professional woodworker, so
he knew his stuff first hand ( bad pun!). He pointed out many
modifications, and work methods that will lessen the stress to my
arms hands and back. Just using an optivisor lens with the
longest possible focal length can ease tension in neck and
shoulders for instance, If anyone would like a copy of his
report, e-mail me JKMetalsmith@Hotmail.com It’s rather lengthy
to post, I can forward it upon request.


    It's horrible, as jewelers, to lose the use (or partially
lose) of our hands. When I was having trouble I joked that
nobody wanted a one armed jeweler.  Even having trouble doing
"daily living skills" is frustrating, much less losing one's

Elaine , Let me be the first to tell you , you are correct in
your joke “nobody wanted a one armed jeweler” .I have been doing
jewelry work since I lost use of my left arm in 1988 , not near
the volume as the members of this list but with what I do with
one arm I think the quality is equal to that of a jeweler with
two arms.Yes society is narrow minded and the little faith they
have in themselves and their abilitys extend to the way they
look upon people such as myself .I was once told by a member of
voc rehab and I quote " I could not do jewelry work with one
hand , so there would be no way that you could either . So it
would not be worth puting money into additional training for you
in this field." Thats where the catch 22 comes in, you’re
unemployable without better education than your compitition yet
without being employed the better education is out of reach.Then
there is the area where tools for this field are not for the
most part adapted to use with one hand so unusual methods of
doing simple tasks have to be dreamed up and implimented . Thats
the hardest part .Sorry to ramble on , but I knew I’d hear
things like that from the public just never expected to see a
statement even in jest like that from the professionals on

Just thinking outloud,

ICQ# 6866587

Hi Folks,

This may be a bit controversial, but the use of aspartame, also
known as Equal, has caused me incalculable harm. I have joint
pain that has caused me to becom e legally disabled. This is
not only from my diabetic neurological problems, but also from
drinking diet soda and using Equal to sweeten things. Dr Aspler,
I know that you are a medical doctor so I am including some info
for you and the rest of Orchid to check out. I have been
aspartame free for over 2 years and the change is remarkable not
only to the mitigation of the joint pain, but also to many other
symptoms. I would be happy to discuss this problem off list with
any one. The info is available at:

  1. Take the 60-day No Aspartame Test and send us your case history.
    Mission Possible International
    5950-H State Bridge Rd.A0 #215 Duluth, GA 30097A0 USA
  2. Tell your doctor and all of your friends!
  3. Return Asparcidal food to the store.
    (anything with Monsanto’s NutraSweet/Equal/Spoonful/Benevia/NatraTaste)
    VISIT http://www.dorway.com Get links to over 30 sites on aspartame
    VISIT http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame/A0A0 …FAQs & Cases
    VISIT http://www.notmilk.com Exposing Bovine Growth Hormone
    Disability and Death are not acceptable costs of business

Warmest Regards,


Skip Meister
Orchid Jewelry Listserve Member
N.R.A. Endowment &
Certified Instructor
in all disciplines
Certified Illinois D.N.R.
Hunter Ed, Instructor
ICQ 37319071

Hi: I also am dealing with short sighted employers. I have a
left hand problem that requires me to wear a brace. When I look
for employment I am honest about my disability and they run
screaming for the hill s, 27 years of experience should count
for something. Overqualified is the most common rejection,
forcing me into self employment. Not that I mind being my own
boss, but it is tuff to support a family, I survive. I can
sympathize with the problem and wish employers had more open
minds, just my two cents, Ringman John Henry

“Timothy.” wrote:

    Elaine , Let me be the first to tell you , you are correct
in your joke "nobody wanted a one armed jeweler"..... .I have
been doing jewelry work since I lost use of my left arm in 1988
...... but with what I do with one arm I think the quality is
equal to that of a jeweler with two arms......... 

G’day Timothy, please allow me to congratulate you upon your
attitude to your misfortune and especially so in overcoming it.
But would you be prepared to tell us the way in which you were
able to perform to equal quality? I am very certain that judging
by the comments I have seen here on impaired usage of hands,
very many Orchidists would be delighted to be able to benefit
from your enforced experiences. Thank you, and cheers,

        /\      John Burgess
       / /
      / /      Johnb@ts.co.nz    
     / /__|\
    (_______) I often wonder what it is the vintner buys one

half so precious as the goods they sell.

Architects have often found that adaptations of building to suit
the “handicapped” actually work better for everyone. I’ll bet
you’ve come up with some alternative methods that hte rest of us
could really use, too. Ever thought of checking that out? You
might have a good book in you on it!

Hello, A couple of years back I saw a fabrication video by the
late Vesta Ward. She had chronic arthritis but she remained a
gifted artist and teacher until her passing. The video she made
had several adaptations for her hand problems. I don’t know if
it is still available, but perhaps someone on the list does.


Hi Skip, I drank diet soda when that aspartame first came out. I
would go on my daily bicycle ride which was a 13 mile trip around
the Ocean Drive to my house. I would take a rest and drink one
soda. This caused me to get very dizzy and lightheaded and I
could not figure out the cause. Then I read that the aspartame
changes to formaldehyde in your system if you drink it when you
are working out and overheated. And we all know what
formaldehyde is used for (frogs in jars and Angel Dust). As soon
as I eliminated the aspartame the dizzy spells disappeared.
Haven’t touched the stuff since the first year they brought it
out. P.S.
Sad to hear the news about your Dad.

Judy - let me add in my two cents here. I’ve had carpal tunnel
syndrom since 1991. One of the things I trained myself to do was
to sleep on my stomach with my hands flat on the mattress under
the pillow. After a year or two, however, I started having
problems from this position - it seemed that by sleeping with my
arms above my head, I was pinching nerves in my shoulder!

The only advice I can give anyone is take ibuprofen, use a body
pillow, stretch, and don’t do too much of any one activity! The
hardest thing for me to change was to take breaks - when you are
working on a piece and caught up in the thrill of it, watching
each step take place and anticipating the finished result, its
really hard to step back and say, “Maybe I should wait and
finish this tomorrow.” However, it’s the one habit that has
allowed me to avoid extremely painful flare ups, and I like to
con myself into thinking it’s made me a more patient person -


John , thanks for your interest in my condition and the question
on quality.Let me once again say I in no way would come close to
the quanity of work of anyone on this list nor am I suggesting
that anyones work is less than excelent. What I was trying to
say is that before I lost total use of my left arm I felt that
my work was of a quality that was accepted as good and of a
professional quality but by my own standard of judgement today I
would not dare let many of the pieces exit my bench .I am harder
on myself than anyone else could ever be as there is a fear I
have that someone would accept a repair that they felt could
have been better for the simple fact that tHey may think WELL HE
could say that the loss has made my definition of quality change
to higher standard and my own quality of work has increased. Yes
,if there is any way that I could help someone by discussing my
methods though very unusual yes I would be delighted to
assist.But remember limited use and no use are not that closely
related, as there are ways that I do things that even a jeweler
with limited use would not even consider to try . So if there is
ANY questions as to my ways and methods of preforming a task ,
please ask and I’ll try to explain how I do it or the way I
would have to do it . There are lots of things that I have still
not devised ways of doing but will continue to try to solve the
problems as they arise.

On list or off list , just ask
ICQ# 6866587

Tim: Thanks for the response, I never meant to compare My minimal
loss to your major disability. My intention was to make an
example off the situation. My frustration is the shortsightedness
of society towards the disabled. my left hand is only part of
what I face, I have other problems as well. The one that gains
the immediate focus is my brace and makes the others unimportant
because we don’t get that far. I understand that my problem is
nothing compared to yours. We all struggle for our niche and when
you are cut of from the freeway, the going becomes a lot slower
and unpredictable. Yes, I hope to be able to survive on my own
but know it’s a roller coaster ride! Perhaps we can share our
thoughts about improvement we have made in our struggle to
complete our tasks efficiently, the first one I suggest is the
all set system, It regulates the burr so you get a more perfect
seat. I use this to cut wax also by putting it in a clamp and
holding it steady while I use it like a milling table. I also use
a microscope that is attached to a 1/2" aluminum rod. It allows
my scope to travel between the dark light base and the bench top.
Makes for a better finished piece. The scope is called a Gemoro
and is available through Swest Tools for about $400. please
continue with your feedback Tim it is much appreciated. God
Bless, Ringman John Henry

Timothy— No joke: There are many,many
people out there who would be interested in hearing how you
adapted to your change in circumstances without losing your
vocation along with your arm. Have you ever considered
publishing some of the techniques you have used or invented?
I’ll bet there are grants out there for people willing to advise
others having trouble getting back into the work force after a
catastrophic disabling event. In this day and age, all of us
would do well to remember that disability is not a monopoly of
the aged. Automobile accidents, faulty machinery, war,
terrorism, freak accidents,natural disasters, random crime,
accidents on the job…can take a terrible toll on people of
all ages. No one is immune (think of Christopher Reeve). Your
input would provide a valuable contribution to those new to
disability and those who have lost heart. Do think about it .
And thank you for revealing how perseverance and skill can
overcome despair. Keep up the good work. You’re an inspiration.

All I can say is I wish I had as much faith in myself and my
abilities as the fine people here on this list seem to have.I
dont know how much my methods would be of help to others unless
the low dollar way was needed as that is the way I am limited in
providing the way to pursue my what is now not much more than a
hoby but would like to be able to call it a occupation in the
future as knowledge and ways increase.But any help that anyone
may think I can provide Is easily obtained by simply asking , I
have ideals yet to be placed into action but if asked I’ll share
with anyone wanting to know who may be able to use them now .
Please ask any questions , the answers may be strange to the
professionals on the list but if it works for me I do it .

ICQ# 6866587

Hello Timothy! The definition of a professional I’m told is, I
quote " if you can solve your own mistakes, without need of
help". Your post sounds complete with confidence. Advise us as
to your techniques and methods when you see the need. You will
be surprised, how many of us are still “catskinners”. It is not
what you do it with, or what you paid for the equipment; but
rather quality of your work, and your level of personal
achievement. Whatever it takes.


I apologize if I have offended. My comment “nobody wants a one
armed jeweler,” was making fun of myself, and also a comment on
the discrimination I would have faced in our industry if people
in the industry saw me wearing my wrist brace. My wrist trouble
was like a dirty little secret. You see? If people knew, I
couldn’t get a job. You know that.

I have heard of a guy with 7 fingers – that’s the name of his
company, “Seven Fingers Jewelry,” I’m blanking on his name.
Last time I saw his work he was doing hand carved and engraved

I’m impressed that you’re able to do jewelry with one hand, and
that you had the spirit to continue after losing use of your
hand. The modifications necessary must be a challenge.
So…see? I’m not an insensitive creep. Though I could have
been more clear. Humor is so dangerous in email. : )


Elaine, I think that this is a jeweler whose first name is Lee.
Years ago he had a shop in Greenwich Village, I think called Lee
Shop or Lee Jeweler, I’m not sure. Anyway he did beautiful work,
despite his dissability. I don’t even think that that is the
correct term because when you looked at his work there was
nothing that indicated that it was done by someone with a


Elaine, Let me apologize to you , I’m afraid that at times the
finger can be faster than the mind .I should have thought more
before hitting the send button ,I didn’t mean to appear offended
by your comment , it was just a reaction to the truth in your
wording .I guess I’ve said it to myself enough and was just
cought offgaurd when I saw it from someone in the jewelry
business.I fully understand the way it was ment “pertaining to
yourself” and know what you are saying when you say if people
knew about your problem then you would not be able to get a
job.Been there , done that , still there and probably there to
stay. I want apologize to you and everyone else on this list as I
know you are not a “insensitive creep” and I never wanted to
insinuate that you were.

I gotta stop thinking outloud