Monday, January 24, 2011


Since the holidays, I've been experimenting with different ways to make pots.  Before the holidays, I worked too hard and steadily cranking out egg cups.  I overused my arms and the tendonitis flared back up.  I've had it in both arms for several years, but since December, I've been attacking the problem in some new ways. 
One: acupuncture.  Works wonders.  Fabulous.  Until I start really throwing again.
Two: wrist braces.  They're fine for centering (and sleeping), not fine for throwing.
Three: Chinese Herbal Tincture (related to acupuncture).  I spray it on and rub it in several times a day, and it seems to help.
Four: limiting my throwing time.  Like to an hour or two, tops, a day.  This part I hate.
Five: throwing with really wet clay.  I know a baker who used to be a potter until his wrists gave out.  He suggested a) stop making pots (imagine my very sad face here).  b) learn how to center differently. c) use really wet clay to throw with.  
Six: homeopathic/herbal anti-inflammatories and glucosamine.  They also seem to help.  My favorite is a combo of several herbs with ginger and tumeric (called something like inflam-action).  I need more of these soon.
Seven: stop doing other things that hurt the arms- laptop, knitting, carrying heavy things, pilates, etc etc.

The suggestion to stop is one I first considered when the pain got bad.  Stopping to rest, yes.  Stopping and find a new profession?  I'm not ready yet.  I go to acupuncture every other week and am diligent about taking my meds- herbal and otherwise- that help.  Today I threw for a little over an hour and a quarter and so far I'm ok.  I tried throwing with super-wet clay.  Some forms worked well.  Some forms were disasterous.  I am centering differently and have a carpel tunnel brace that I wear on my left arm (my "centering arm").  I think that I'll be making less work this year until I figure out how to work without injuring myself.  This is one reason I haven't been blogging much here- I didn't want to whine about pain, I didn't have new work to show, and I haven't been doing anything else terribly interesting.  But oh- the house is clean.  That I can do.

I'm grateful that I have options, grateful that some of the less-invasive treatments work, grateful that I can still work in the studio at all.  Not a terrible way to begin the week.
Have a good one, y'all.


nicole said...

Have you considered some form of physical therapy? A physical therapist might be able to show you some exercises that help and maybe you'll be able to work out how to throw differently with help, too?

bridgmanpottery said...

Nicole, the problem lies in two little words "pre-existing condition". If I go to a dr or a specialist and it isn't resolved, it becomes a pre-existing condition. A friend developed tendonitis in her elbow from yoga and has been denied coverage three separate times because she didn't choose to have it operated on. I'm sticking with what's worked so far, at least until my precarious insurance situation is more stable.

amy h said...

I hope the things your are trying work out for you in the long run, so you can keep throwing! What a shame that so many people can't get different treatment options due to (justified) fear of the pre-existing condition label.

Ann said...

I have some wrist issues, and arthritis in one hand due to a bad fracture a few years ago. I've been throwing less and handbuilding more (when I used to handbuilding very little) and the mix seems to work for me. And I *never* thought I'd be a handbuilder! And yes....SOFT clay for throwing definitely the way to go. Makes a huge difference.

Leila said...

I am sorry to hear that you're having trouble. I hope you find a more permanent solution soon.

dandelionink said...

Is your insurance that picky? I have gone to physical therapy for about 12 weeks, twice a week. It has really helped my problem. I did get a steroid injection before doing the therapy because I would have never been able to tolerate it otherwise. the shot was the most painful thing I've ever experienced. (after the shot, not the shot itself) But the physical has been great. And she seemed to think I had a very serious case - wasn't even sure she could fix me. But seems to be a drastic help so far. It does flare up if I lift heavy items, but not as bad or for as long as before. she did a lot of deep tissue massage and exercises too.
Lori (brown)

Julie Alvarez said...

I am glad that you are finding some ways to sooth the pain!
I was wondering what alternate centering method you are using now... is it something that you can explain?