RJsumthn

Woodworking Injury

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No I didn't cut myself on the table saw again or anything like that. But I have developed tendinitis in my right elbow from hand planing.

 

I was trying to mill up and square some rough sawn hard maple when then pain began. At first I could not extend my elbow fully without excruciating pain and that lasted about 24 hours. Over the next couple days the pain slowly dwindled. Now   there is no real pain but just enough discomfort to make it annoying. I having been dealing with this for the past 2 weeks and have avoided any high impact activities, including woodworking since I only have hand planes to mill my boards. 

 

I know I'm a young guy and my joints should be able to take it but it is on my dominant hand and I was a baseball pitcher for 7 years and a competitive golfer for 4 years both of which are high impact on the elbow. 

 

Have any of you experienced anything like this from woodworking. 

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More than likely just tendonitis from repetitive motion.  Rest, ice, and ibuprofin is about all you can do.

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How much planing have you done before? If not much it will take a while for you body to condition. I found when I started Taekwondo I had crazy pains in areas I had never noticed. Now however it's not a problem. Give yourself time to recover with light duties and give it another try when you feel ready.

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RJ,

Similar to you I have been active in sport for quite some time.  Now in my forties I have experience with pain.  

Google "trigger point therapy" or "Active Release Techniques".  Probably a nasty trigger point in your upper forearm near the elbow.

 

I would not be so active today without this knowledge.  Similar to acupuncture, it is a little painful, but I think it's better.    

 

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I had this issue a little over a year ago.  Mine was brought on by a lot of hand sanding.  I went to see the doctor about and she gave me some exercises to do, and said it could take up to 6 months to heal.  It was pretty close to 6 months for me!  I bought one these Flexbar which really helped.

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00066D6K4/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Mike

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I used to get some pain behind my elbow, around where the "funny bone" nerve is.  I spent some time looking around, and the best I could figure out was I was annoying the nerve there.  I think this was due to a combination of things.  This pain was on my left arm (toe of the plane)

1)resting my head on my hand, with my elbow on the desk while at work

2) when I was planing I would let the full extension of my arm stop the plane, and I guess that sudden jarring motion wasn't doing me any good

3)  the work surface was too high, since I built my bench (I'm 6'4" and my handtool bench is i think around 34"...my old bench was 2-3" higher)  I havent experienced it much at all.

 

In my case it seemed to be mostly body mechanics.  While I haven't read "The Foundations of Better Woodworking", it is on my list, and look like it could help, especially if you plan to stick with hand tools.

 

(Sharp blades and a slippery sole help too)

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I am amazed at how central some problems are that cause extremity issues. A Vietnam inspired bone spur in C4-C5 left my father with hand issues that were making carpentry dangerous and painful. His situation was fixed with spinal surgery but muscle fatigue in the back and neck can cause similar nerve swelling and pain. Next time you plane, try to assess everything to do with your posture including how your shoes affect your stance. This is part of why there is so much discussion around bench height. Treating this type of work as exercise and including stretching can also be beneficial.

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I haven't done much planing before so my body is not use to it. 

 

Thanks for all the suggestions!!

 

I do not plan on sticking with hand tools to mill lumber. I just started a part time job so I should have a jointer and planer within the next few months.

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If rest, ice, and advil don't clear it up permanently you might have tennis elbow. I have never played tennis but got similar symptoms this year and that is what the doctor called it. Especially the pain when extending my arm unweighted. The good news is a cortisone shot can completely and magically cure it. The bad news is that a cortisone shot hurts like a (insert expletive of choice).

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RJ, I had tendonitis in my elbow years ago and an old carpenter fixed it for me. He told me to throw away my steel shanked hammer and get a wood handled or fiberglass handled hammer. I did, and it cured it. The steel shank transferred the shock of each blow to my arm and irritated the tendon at my elbow. You might try using an ace bandage on that elbow until you get the arm used to the planning. Of course, if you take Eric's medicine, you only have to put the ace bandage on the tip of your finger. Turning that switch on and off too much could wear a blister.

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