Knitting, Crafts & Chronic Pain

Many people live with chronic pain.  How people live and cope with their pain is, of course, a personal decision affected by an array of factors.  Some endeavor to stay as active as is possible for them; others sink into depression.  Some give up their pursuit of fiber arts and crafts; others start knitting.

Are you familiar with the London, England-based group Stitchlinks?  According to its website, it “is a Community Interest Company which is a non-profit organisation” with three arms:

  1. A FREE support network for anyone who enjoys, or wishes to enjoy, the therapeutic benefits of crafts, in particular knitting. These would include those who are fit and healthy wishing to take a preventative approach to health; to maintain and improve wellbeing by managing stress, for example; or those who wish to use the benefits to actively manage longterm illness.
  2. A research arm which is leading, and actively involved in, scientific research into the therapeutic benefits of knitting and social activity groups.
  3. An arm which provides information for clinicians, teachers, group leaders, the craft trade and other professionals who wish to use knitting therapeutically.

Betsan Corkhill (Stitchlinks) and Carol Davidson (Pain Management, Royal United Hospital, Bath, England), conducted a two-level case study:  First, a qualitative analysis of narratives from a self-selected sample of individuals with chronic pain who knit.  the second level [2] Face-to-face knitting group.  Second, ethnographic observations of group ChronicPainPosterdiscussions, interactions and outputs from a weekly knitting group at a pain management unit.

Their findings are captured in their one-page poster, “Exploring the Effects of Knitting on the Experience of Chronic Pain – a Qualitative Study.”  (Don’t strain your eyes trying to read this jpg.  Download the poster from the website.)

Even if we’re lucky enough to not have to cope with chronic pain currently, it is inevitable that as we age, we will start experiencing new pains and aches.

If you know anyone who might benefit from this group, you may want to point her/him to Stitchlinks. Additionally, as Stitchlinks has identified knitting as a model craft, you might want to bring an extra ball of yarn and set of needles on your next visit.  🙂


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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12 Responses to Knitting, Crafts & Chronic Pain

  1. My hands and vertigo don’t much appreciate knitting always but it does wonders for my soul. 🙂


  2. ethgran says:

    When I fell on my right hand and busted it up, I was happy that I carry the yarn with my left hand (continental) and could still knit though a bit slower for a while. I think that even when I am all crippled up and nearly dead, I will probably be able to keep on knitting!


  3. My hands were injured several years ago and one of the results is that I knit at a much looser gauge that I did before. At least I can knit. And like you, when I can’t knit I do something else! I also like the social element of meeting with other handcrafters in person … much more so than the “virtual” way … 🙂


  4. ethgran says:

    Knitting has certainly helped in the management of my pain, though at times I overdue and have to rest my hands for several days. Having been a knitter for most of my life, it wasn’t a discovery that it is helpful (I’ve only had fibromyalgia for less than 20 years) but it has also become a solace because I have trouble managing to sit at a sewing machine for more than an hour at a time. (My greatest love in handcrafting expression was designing and constructing costumes – now I mainly design and construct fancy outfits for my granddaughter’s doll) Group knitting has been beneficial more in that I have the skills and desire to help others with whatever handcraft they want to work at – and it is Always fun to get together with other women (and a few cats) and gab. When I feel the need to calm down or just relax, I grab some knitting!


  5. I found it interesting too! Perhaps the most significant “good” from crafting is that it just makes the crafter feel good, thus reducing attention to areas of pain?!?


  6. I hope it will be of use to (or at least interesting to) the group! I had never heard of it before friend of mine brought it to my attention.


  7. I know what you mean … it is so easy to get engrossed in a project!


  8. And crocheting is much more fulfilling than taking pain pills … not necessarily less expensive, though, depending on your mom’s taste in fibers!


  9. I had never heard of Stitchlinks. Very interesting!


  10. jengolightly says:

    Thank you for mentioning this group. I am co chair of my firms employee disability network, and I’ll send this link round. Some of my friends in the network hold down their day job and do great work whilst suffering tremendously.


  11. Interesting. Thank you for posting. I may mention it to some patients of mine who are struggling. (In my own case, I think knitting has made me LESS physically healthy! I’m so addicted to knitting that I can’t be bothered to go running any more, and I miss meals.)


  12. Deb says:

    This post made me think of my mom; she crotchets as it helps with her arthritis pain. She says if she crotchets everyday that her hands don’t hurt.


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