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Author Topic: Tool modifications for arthritis & neuropathy? Got those bad vibrations.  (Read 163 times)

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Raccoon

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Have you made modifications to your tools or setup that helped reduce hand pain?
I work with just a dremel for now, and I made a brace for it so I can hold just the stone, and not the vibrating device.
But I'd like to be able to use my flex shaft for fine details.

As it is, the vibration is triggering neuropathy, and trying to avoid power tools by sanding small rocks by hand with sandpaper is triggering arthritis.

I'm considering wrapping the flex shaft handle in high-density foam, to cushion my hand and maybe? absorb some of the vibration?
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vitzitziltecpatl

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You could try a wood block/stand with hose clamps for your flex shaft handpiece. Clamp the handpiece down and use both hands to hold and work the stone.

I think that's what you were describing for the Dremel, right?

Slabbercabber

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I don't use it, but you might try a foam sleeve.
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R.U. Sirius

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What you are doing now is the "fixed point carving" - many carving masters do all their work that way, by holding the stone with both hands. If you start liking it, you can buy a dedicated machine that will be more stable than the clamped flex shaft handpiece.

Having suffered from arthritis for many years, and even the "vibration white finger" syndrome, I can share a few insights, with understanding that everyone is unique in some ways.

First off, make sure the tools and diamond points are of decent quality and correctly aligned and otherwise adjusted.  It is amazing just how much vibration can be minimized this way.

Next, always adhere to the most important lapidary mantra of all:  let the diamonds do the work - do not force the stone against the tool. Learn to relax. I've seen the same general evolution of one's technique in rock climbing and guitar playing: in the beginning you tend to make up for lack of skill by applying brute force, leading to injuries. Over time, the grip gets lighter, and the results get nicer.

Avoid the crimp grip.

Many surgeons nowadays adhere to the "20-20 rule" - 20 minutes of operating, 20 seconds of stretching. Considering how rocks are much easier to care for than patients under surgery, I'd suggest that lapidaries can afford much less work and much more stretching breaks. This leads me to the second lapidary mantra we often hear repeated: cut a little, look a lot.

Of course, consider your overall body position, especially the neck and shoulders. It is surprising how improper posture and fatigue propagate and amplify from the feet, the back, to the neck, and down the arms into the hands. Improvise arm rests (again, learn from surgeons).

Finally, I learned the hard way to eliminate any sharp edges that trigger lasting nerve pain: use desks and work benches with rounded, smooth edges, and place foam or towels as appropriate.
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irockhound

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Re: Tool modifications for arthritis & neuropathy? Got those bad vibrations.
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2021, 07:43:54 PM »

I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis starting in 08 but it has been all but gone without a single flareup or symptom in 6 years of being off the drugs.  I do get in my right hand (more) and sometimes my left the fingers will just cramp closed and I have to take the other hand to force my fingers to release.  Very bothersome but I think it comes from hand holding the stones and not dopping which I think would be much easier on the fingers, just not my style.
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Raccoon

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Re: Tool modifications for arthritis & neuropathy? Got those bad vibrations.
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2021, 10:38:24 AM »

You could try a wood block/stand with hose clamps for your flex shaft handpiece. Clamp the handpiece down and use both hands to hold and work the stone.

I think that's what you were describing for the Dremel, right?

Right! And yes, I am thinking of something similar for the handpiece... something where I could mount/dismount it quickly and easily. Then I could still use it as intended for tricky details, but mostly keep it stationary.
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Raccoon

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Re: Tool modifications for arthritis & neuropathy? Got those bad vibrations.
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2021, 10:40:40 AM »

I don't use it, but you might try a foam sleeve.

So they do make those. I should know by now that if I think of some tool or add-on that will make my life easier, I only have to Google it.
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Raccoon

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Re: Tool modifications for arthritis & neuropathy? Got those bad vibrations.
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2021, 11:06:12 AM »

@R.U. Sirius, thank you for the insights and suggestions.
In particular, I hadn't considered how low-quality diamond bits could affect hand comfort. I suppose because we have to hold our hands in position longer, or be tempted to press the rock against the bit to speed things up.

I have most definitely observed the contrast between good/poor body posture and technique--in aerobics, singing, and even sitting in bed reading-- and I am gradually adjusting my workspace to be more conducive to that end.

@irockhound, hand cramps/spasms, I hate those!!! If I seem to be getting them more frequently, I ask myself whether I've been ignoring my Dr.s' instructions on hydration, salt, and vitamins-- it usually tracks.
Otherwise, just another of my body's signals to stop obsessing and take a break already  :grin:
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Raccoon

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Re: Tool modifications for arthritis & neuropathy? Got those bad vibrations.
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2021, 11:35:38 AM »

Here are some of my modifications.
My workspace is temporary; we live in a very small space, and are getting ready to move.

So I made these two objects with portability in mind (and obviously not aesthetics).

The stand is a work in progress. I'm going to mount a magnetic tool holder on the side, but for now I have some bar magnets temporarily attached with hooks-- this way I can figure out the best placement based on which tools I reach for in practice.

The arm that the dremel straps onto, I will likely affix with a couple bolts, again after I've figured out what placement is best. I will replace the wimpy hook & loop straps, though they're surprisingly sufficient for holding the dremel steady!

As for the dust box, I wish it were easier to clean. After the move, I will see about installing some kind of dust collector fan.

I have a deadman foot pedal, which has been a delightful improvement over having to remove my arm from the dustbox and turn the switch on the dremel.

And last photo: finger cots for when my hands are feeling accident-prone; and these wonderful Sistema storage boxes that are durable, easy to unlatch, and inexpensive.
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VegasJames

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Re: Tool modifications for arthritis & neuropathy? Got those bad vibrations.
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2021, 09:33:59 PM »

There are different types of neuropathy, but it is often from some type of demyelination.  Or in this case could possibly be something like carpal tunnel syndrome, or nerve compression that again can be from a couple of things including bone spurs. There are ways to address and reverse these but how depends on the cause.

As for arthritis there are around 120 forms of arthritis. Most common are the bacterial triggered autoimmune form known as rheumatoid arthritis and the wear and tear form known as osteoarthritis. Both are reversible, but in totally different manners. So knowing the type of arthritis can help a lot if you want to reverse it rather than simply address the symptoms.
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Raccoon

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Re: Tool modifications for arthritis & neuropathy? Got those bad vibrations.
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2021, 08:22:05 AM »

It’s a segue, but... believe me, I’m a proponent of identifying a problem precisely in order to deal with it. My bank account and browser history will attest.

But between reading about the significance of proximal vs distal nerve damage, seronegative autoimmunity and its differential diagnoses, and how skeletal defects and gastrointestinal distress tie in with early arthritis,

I like to sleep.

Just so before long-distance drives to consult with specialists.

In fact, I confess that I have difficulty both driving and reading scholarly journals when sleep deprived-- though I may be more inclined to attempt it.


________

Thus I do what I can to mitigate my symptoms; so I don’t hurt as much as often, so I can sleep a little better, so I can think relatively clearly, so I can post here and ask for more tips on mitigating symptoms so I can enjoy a hobby that takes my mind off of the frustratingly poor ROI of those other efforts. (And so I just plain feel good enough to keep trying).

For the record I haven’t found it simple. My amateur carpentry can be hazardous, for a start.

But it's something I can do, and observe a resulting improvement in my well-being. It builds a sense of agency. For that reason, I believe symptom management is essential.
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