Sore hands

Hello all. I am so happy to have found this group. I live in an a
remote area where instruction in this field doesn’t exist. The
support and you provide is invaluable. The discussion on
carpel tunnel syndrome has brought me out of lurkdom. My question is
has anyone had a thumb joint replacement? Osteoarthritis is making
my dream of finally becoming a full time jewelry maker painful.
Right now it hurts but I can do it. I’m afraid that if I have the
operation I may not lose the power and the torque needed to
fabricate with precious metal. Any would help me. Thank
you, Lori

Dear Lori,

As my hands become less flexible I make my mind more pliable.
Iinvent jigs and tools and sometimes change my design, to reduce
stress on my aging joints.

Allan Wilkinson

I’ve read some of the threads about sore hands and Carpal Tunnel
with mild interest because “I’ve been there, done that” and it’s old
hat for me. But I have to step in about thumb joint replacement: I
think that this would be a bad idea because the movement of the
thumb is so very complex and the nerves involved and tendons and
ligaments are just too easily damaged. I have a better idea for
those who do not have severe osteo-arthritis. It’s called Glucosamine
Hydrochloride/ Chondroitin Sulfate complex. It is classified as a
neutraceutical because it doesn’t have pharmacological activity to
modulate pain but it does have a glucose moiety that means it’s a
sugar and therefore a “nutrient”. Anyone who walks over the age of 5
(yes I mean 5 years old) should be taking it. Again, it does nothing
for pain but it is a well-document modulator of joint health and
does wonderful things for achey, aging, mild to moderately injured
joints. You have to take it everyday, without fail, forever. (If you
have glucose modulating problems or diabetes, you should talk to
your doctor). It will be about a month before you notice any change
and the changes you notice will probably be that you aren’t fumbling
with tools anymore, you can walk up stairs more sprily, that you
don’t notice the throbbing in your knees or elbows when you get down
on hard surfaces etc. And the reason it works is because it speeds
up the healing and reconstructive process that goes on in any joint
all the time by providing the precursors for this to happen. Hope
this little tid bit helps.

I’m glad I’m not the only one! I also have a thumb joint that
dislocated due to osteoarthritis. It is possible to have a bone
fusion to relocate the thumb bones into their socket, but unless you
are in otherwise excellent health with good healing powers the
results might not last long. My bone fusion lasted for three months.
A follow-up operation early this year removed the trapezoid bone, and
left me with no pain. It takes time to learn how to adjust to doing
some things a different way in terms of how you use your hand (in my
case I find it difficult to mourn the loss of using a duster to
polish my furniture - I loathe housework) but you get there. Oddly,
doing fine work is not a problem, probably because it doesn’t’
require strength.

As far as power and torque are concerned, I have had to think
laterally, and find tools that do the job for me. You CAN do it,
don’t let a dicky thumb stop you :slight_smile:

Pat Waddington
Semiprec - beautiful jewellery

Hi Lori! As it turns out, I had the surgery you are referring
to–arthroplasty of the basal joint–on Jan. 30 this year. I had
put off doing it for quite some time as my main employment is that
of a music teacher where I play the piano quite a lot. I do jewelry
in my spare time. I was quite discouraged when I first went to an
orthopedist about the problem as he implied that I would never get
my flexibility back, so I put off the surgery. I then visited a
hand specialist last fall, who told me that I could expect a full,
though somewhat slow recovery. As the simplest of routine tasks
caused great pain and this was my dominant hand, I decided that I
could not put it off any longer.

The surgery was an out patient procedure which lasted about 1 hour
and 15 minutes. You are put in a twilight state and a block is
given which numbs your arm. Basically, there is an incision over the
joint, and a very small incision (less than half an inch) about 4
inches up the carpal side of the wrist. The trapezium, a wedge
shaped bone at the base of the joint, is removed and the doctor
makes a replacement out of a small amount of tendon removed from the
wrist. I took percocet for only 2 days, after which I no longer
needed any pain medication. I had a bulky bandage for 12 days after
which a hard cast was put on for 3 weeks, followed by a custom made
removeable splint. I was able to do a lot with the cast and splint
as my fingers were free to move. Only my thumb was imobilized. I
began physical therapy with a certified hand therapist twice a week
about 2 months after my surgery. My flexibility has completely
returned in my hand, though I can’t bend my wrists as far as I
could. Continued exercise will help that. The last thing to return
is your strength. It took my 2 months before I could tear open a
sugar packet and 3 months before I could turn my ignition key. I
can hold a hammer, file and other tools, however I still have to be
careful about keeping my hand in one position for too long without
strretching or resting. I cannot support anything heavy using only
my hand–such as picking up a saucepan full of water–though I can
pick up heavy items using my arms–heavy tote bags etc. I had
stopped doing my exercises out of laziness and began experiencing
some pain, so I got back into the exercise which has helped.

All in all, I would recommend the surgery if you are in a lot of
pain. I would highly recommend that you see only a hand specialist
and not an orthopedic surgeon. After meeting some of the other hand
patients–many of whom had experienced gruesome power tool and auto
mishaps–I realized that my problem was a simple one and my doctor
had already performed thousands of them! I hope this helps and good
luck! --Vicki Embrey

Hi I haven’t read all of the threads on carpal tunnel, but with
lori’s note, I thought that I would pass on some info, in case it
hasn’t been stated yet There is a company called Silver Ring Splint
They are in Charlottesville Virginia They specialize in making
splints for all of the joints of the fingers and thumbs to help with
various forms of arthritis and hand ailments You have to have a
physical therapist recommend the splints, and I think most of them
range $60 bucks or so (don’t hold me to that quote) I have heard
wonderful things about the splints I almost took a job there making
them One of the nicest features of the splints is that they are
basically rings They are not cumbersome, and I hear that they
immediately help with the pain Lori, you may want to look into this
before settling for sugery Hope this helps Go to


I so agree with Vicki about seeing a hand specialist. I had carpal
tunnel release surgery a while back and was fortunate enough to have
had a hand specialist do my surgery. The incision was a tiny one, it
healed well and I’ve regained complete use of my hand. During the
rehab phase, I saw several other patients who had used conventional
doctors. They had larger scars and their recovery time was much, much
longer than mine. Don’t suffer needlessly.


Oh my God, I’m doing it again, responding to another thread.
Somebody stop me!!! This is going to sound self serving and
commercial so I apologize from the very start because that is not my
intent. Nobody else was speaking up.

Jett Sett plastic (my patent), has been helping many jewelers with
hand problems stay active on their bench because they can use it to
make tool handles that fit their hand and grip instead of using the
standard available wooden and pre-formed handles that are the norm.
I have even donated loads of this stuff to convalescent centers so
that it can be used to help folks make simple things like toothbrush
handles that they can hold themselves. It makes great graver and file
handles that are easy to hold. If your interested I could take and
send you some pictures of handles that I have made for myself that
greatly reduce the stress of repetitive motion work. It’s kinda fun
just to play with sometimes as well.

Best Regards,
J. Tyler Teague
JETT Research

I would like to share a cost effective stand-in for Jett Sett. I
have long wanted to try Jett Sett myself but repeatedly balked at its

Please understand that I am not trying to undermine the sales of
Jett Sett or the livelihood of J Tyler Teague but want only to
benefit those who may potentially be able to take advantage of
another product at no additional cost. A few years ago I had surgery
for carpal tunnel syndrome and was amazed to see the heat-activated,
formable plastic used by Physical Therapy to fashion the
postoperative splint I was to wear for some weeks. At room
temperature it is a white, opaque plastic. The sheet was about
3/32" thick and when placed in very hot water it became transparent
and very flexible so that it could be molded perfectly to my hand,
wrist and forearm and held that shape as it cooled and returned to
its original rigid character. This cooling process took only a few
minutes. Recalling the I’d read about Jett Sett, I was
itching to give this stuff a try and asked the therapist if I could
take some scraps to fool around with. I placed strips and small
pieces in very hot water (almost boiling) to soften. The heated
material can be easily cut to size with scissors if need be and will
bond to itself when hot. I use the T-shaped shellac tray provided
with my Benchmate and form the plastic over the platform, shaping
some of it down around the edges to hold everything in place. Then I
press the item I want to secure into the hot plastic and use
additional pieces of plastic barely over the jewelry edges and
pressed into the base plastic. As the plastic cools, it firmly holds
the jewelry as positioned and with the shellac tray secured in my
Benchmate vise, I find it to be a firm but shock absorbing set-up. My
sincere thanks to Mr. Teague for his ingenuity and development of a
marvelous product. If I’d had it 15 years ago, carpal tunnel
surgery might have been avoided or at least postponed for years. My
feeling is that the particles of Jett Sett would be easier to use and
reuse than the sheets of my substitute but for anyone having the
misfortune of needing such a splint, the potential re-use of this
material might be a bonus. HTH Pam Chott Song of the Phoenix

"Oh my God, I’m doing it again, responding to another thread.
Somebody stop me!!! "

Actually, I’m relieved that you can’t keep your vow, as I enjoy your

I agree that Jett Sett is great for handles and all sorts of
things-- and I did post it as a suggestion in regard to the whole
carpel tunnel/sore hands thing, a couple of weeks ago, so you aren’t
just “pushing your own product”. I think it is a truly fabulous
invention, as do the other people I was with at a Tom Herman
workshop last week (though some use another brand). Using it has
solved several problems for me. The trick is to remember to think of
it as a possible tool-- once you start to remember you have it, it
turns out to have a huge range of uses.

Usual disclaimer (should we just start putting “UD”?)


Do you know the NAME of this product, so that we may search for it
on the WWW? David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings

To all who gave suggestions and shared their stories thank you. This
discussion has helped. I am past the nutritional remedy stage. There
is no more cartilage and bone spurs have decreased movement on the
left and are beginning on the right. I will soon get another
cortisone shot to get through this summer and will try some of the
recommendations of tools that I received before I try the knife.

To J. Tyler Teague, I would be happy to try the Jett Sett ideas. I
did email off line but maybe it didn’t go through? I have a bag I
haven’t opened. Please Let me know how to get the instructions. Thank
you all, Lori

Dear Vicki, I saved your message to Lori about your hand surgery. I
am working as a production jeweler with splints to immoblize my
thumbs. Could you please describe where your pain was. Mine is at the
base of my thumbs, where they tie into the wrist. I’m wondering if
your surgery addressed the same problem. I have been seeing a hand
specialist for this for sveral years and the problem is sort of under
control but never gone and often aggravated by work and household
chores. I don’t know how much improvement is possible and haven’t
wanted to consider surgery. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks,

Could you please describe where your pain was. Mine is at the base
of my thumbs, where they tie into the wrist. I'm wondering if your
surgery addressed the same problem. 

I have the same problem. What kind of splints are you wearing?
Were they prescription/custom made, or something that can be found
over the counter? An x-ray showed the cartilage pads between my
bones were thinning; guess I’m an official old timer with arthritis.

Tas ← refusing to be an old-timer

Jan, My thumbs were triggered - meaning if I either bent them or
straightened them up it hurt like hell and they locked. Now, I was
able to treat one thumb with cortesone shots ( about 2 over a 12
month time period) and that took care of it. You should do hand
physical therapy also . Another item to try is the hot wax hand dip.
You can by them at walmart or just about anywhere. It really helps
and the physical therapist uses it too.

Mind you cortesone shots or any shots at the base of the thumb on
the palm of the hand is going to hurt like hell. Now, on the other
hand the shots didn’t work, I had 3 separate shots over a 6 month
period and the orthopedist decided I needed surgery. It wasn’t that
bad and my thumb works great now.

Walmart sells a craft glove (suggested for quilting), it is a
spandex material that covers your hand, keeps your fingers and thumbs
and palm messaged. It has a cuff on it that covers your rist. I
used it often to keep my hand in a comfortable position and it really
works to releave pain and discomfort. It is really worth the try-
sleep in it and use it when you aren’t working on jewelry.

Now, I also raise metal and do repousse and chasing and to keep the
vibration out of my hands I wear bicycle gloves. A recomendation
from a hand physical therapist.

Jennifer Friedman in Atlanta

Jan, What you may have is deQuervain’s tendonitis. I found the
following description on the Internet. It caused me problems for
years, I tried various remedies. Finally went for surgery, I have no
problems now. I recommend it if it’s a reoccurring problem.

deQuervain’s tendonitis This is a condition caused by swelling and
inflammation of the tendons along the thumb side of the wrist. It
causes pain along that side of the wrist, which is made worse
whenever the thumb is used for grasping or twisting.

The pain may travel up the forearm, and there may also be numbness on
the back of the thumb and index finger. Actions which need force from
the thumb, such as pinching, may become difficult. The area may also
swell and a fluid-filled cyst may appear.

The diagnosis is confirmed by a test called theFinkelstein test. The
patient makes a fist with the fingers over thumb, and the fist is
then bent in the direction of the little finger at the wrist. This
results in severe pain over the thumb side of the wrist if he has
deQuervain’s tendonitis.

Treatment usually involves resting the area by wearing a splint,
along with oral medication to ease the inflammation. Otherwise,
surgery is required to make room for the tendons

    Jan, My thumbs were triggered - meaning if I either bent them
or straightened them up it hurt like hell and they locked.  Now,  I
was able to treat one thumb with cortesone shots ( about 2 over a
12 month time period) and that took care of it.  You should do hand
physical therapy also .  Another item to try is the hot wax hand
dip. You can by them at walmart or just about anywhere.  It really
helps and the physical therapist uses it too. 

I also had a triggered thumb. My doctor sugggested that I try
Glucosamine. I went down and bought a bottle of glucosamine pills,
and after only a few days of taking them my thumb was back to normal.


I’ve been following this loosely, as it fortunately doesn’t apply to
me. But like a bolt from the blue, I just had a thought. When my
husband was stricken with gout for the first time, about ten years
ago, I read everything I could about the subject. One reference
said that although it’s mostly considered a man’s disease, women
sometimes get it too, and often in their thumb rather than their big

It seems to me that most of the respondents on this subject have
been women, although as I said, I have not been paying terribly
close attention.

It might be worthwhile to try taking gout medication for a bit to
see if it offers any relief, especially if one is considering

Just thought I’d share that light bulb clicking on over my head.

Good luck to all, Tess Headley

This has been mentioned before, but it helped me so much that I have
to mention it here. Get this book and try the exercises: Conquering
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Repetitive Strain Injuries by
Sharon Butler. It has specific exercises for thumb, fingers, wrists,
arms, neck, shoulders. It is easy to do and feels wonderful. I
thought I would not be able to continue the jewelry work due to pain
in my thumbs and fingers and wrists. This alleviated them.

J. S. Ellington

Dear Steelybone, My splints were made by a physical therapist who
specializes in hands and I was sent to her by a hand specialist.
They are molded to your hand while the material is warm. when cooled
it is rigid. The splints hold my thumbs in a neutral position and
keepme from pulling them in against my hand. Pick up a magazine with
one hand and you’ll see the motion that they prevent. There are
readymade products but they don’t really do the trick. If you look at
medical sites on the web, there is info about this and other hand
problems. I have some arthritis too, but at 52, I hope to be able
to work with my hands for a long time to come. Good luck. Jan