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I Forge Iron

Pinched Nerve!


larrynjr

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Any of you get a pinched nerve in your neck / shoulder after forging? I've got that going on right now. Happened first after my weekend course at the "Old Cedar Forge" and again this past weekend when I forged my cross and scroll tool. Originially I went to the doctor and he wasn't able to help much. My wife's uncle told me about a book on treating your own neck pain. Those exercises helped the first time but haven't been helping yet with this one. Anyone else have any suggestions?

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after putting a nail through my foot I hobbled around for a week favoring one side, till.... walking down a hall I suddenly could only see red, was basically paralyzed falling flat on my face. The "pinchspasm" corrected itself enough for me to regain my feet, went back to my office, thought about it, and proceeded to jump up and down vigorously on the injured leg in the hope of realigning my spine. It worked.

If those exercises are working, do them more often, do them in between heats, re-examine the ergodynamics of how your working. ;)

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Real quick, I am on my way out the door to go to work. Sorry you're ailing.

You are probably holding your hammer in a death grip. Lighten up :D Don't wear a glove on your hammer hand (if you were). Your hand should be relaxed at the point when the hammer makes contact with the metal and is never gripped tightly at all.

Oversimplification, sorry, gotta run.

Uri Hofi talks about these pains specifically when instructing in hammer technique. Even if a person uses a different style hammer (and longer handles) than Uri the things your body does not like remain the same.

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I had that happen several years ago after going through a forge welding class with the Brazeal ( I'm sure thats not spelled right) brothers. They forged four pieces of 1/2" square bar out to a long tapered point in one heat each. I did the same and should not have. My shoulder and arm were killing me with pain the next day. The doctor gave me one of those steroid packs and it stopped hurting for about a year. The next time he decided I had a herniated disc in my neck so I had to have surgery. It was great, instant relief, enjoyed the whole experience as much as a vacation from the time I went to the hospital till the time I went back to work. I think the whole thing lasted about 4 days. The first time he just checked my mobility and since I had never had any back or neck problems he decided I did not need x rays or an MRI. The second time I got the MRI thats when he saw I had a herniated disc. Hopefully you just pulled something but if not don't feel any apprehension about getting it fixed, I enjoyed the whole experience. That was the first time I had ever been cut on purpose.

Good luck, LDW

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I know what part(s) of the problem are. One has been overgripping as you all have mentioned. I'm working on loosening up, I think I've located the "sweet spot" on my hammer handle but until I use it again, I won't know for sure. The other issue that I read about in a post here, from Hofi I believe, is not placing my thumb on the handle as I hammer. I'm getting better about not doing that but still I find it on there at times. This problem is one of the reasons I want to get a treadle hammer built.

I appreciate all your advice. I did the xrays for the doctor and his next thing was an MRI but I haven't done that. The exercises were helping so I thought I had it licked.

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RE the sweet spot on the hammer handle. Take a couple of dry swings and see where it feels good to you. Mark the location of the back of your hand on the hammer. Next put some sort of stop on the hammer leaving the mark exposed. The stop can be electrical tape, rubber band, whatever, just anything to remind you that this is the end of the handle.

Try the new handle length and adjust as needed.

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Larry,hammering requires a little conditioning and getting the muscles 'limbered up'.

I have problems with soreness and stiffness if I don't do much hammering for a week or so,.......then suddenly do a lot.

I have also had pinched nerves a few times over the years......nothing serious......but mighty bothersome.

You might check out these links;

I Forge Iron - Blacksmithing and Metalworking* BP0344 Hammer Technique*

BP1001 Hofi Hammer Technique*-*I Forge Iron - Blacksmithing and Metalworking

BP1002 Hofi Hammer Technique*-*I Forge Iron - Blacksmithing and Metalworking

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pinched nerves, who ever heard of such a thing, LOL. I have been plauged with back troubles since I was a kid from a horse going down and rolling over me. I have a good old fashioned chiropractor that has kept me going thru the years. almost 2 years ago I was putting firewood in the rack beside the stove and twisted wrong. I now have 5 bulging discs that have stopped me from smithing. Pain pills and recently a TENS unit have made it possible for me to stand for over 10 minutes at a time. and I play in the woodshop in the basement. No surgery is forthcoming because of the 80+% chance I won't ever walk again.

In 89 or 90 I had surgery for a ruptured disc and came outa that pretty well, just very carefull lifting and only light weight.

Uri and I differ on hammer styles and technique.

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The one thing I did nit see mentioned is,DO you lay your thumb on top of the hammer handle? If you do it acts like a shock asborber and jars the muscle right to the elbow then up in your neck, and it acts like a pinched nerve! Look real close at how you hold your hammer you may be surprised .

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The thing about youir thumb is a big deal get someone out in the shop to watch you forger and remind you of that each and every time you swing the hammer also have them watch your elbow. Keep it as close as you can to your rib cage. If youi swing witht the elbow out you will have shoulder pain..If I stood behind you I should be able to take your hammer from your hand at the top of your swing. GRip, thumb and elbow are things to look for.
This should be fun.

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I have been laying my thumb on top of the handle as I hammer. Since I first read Uri's BP regarding hammering technique, I've been trying to keep my thumb wrapped around the handle but obviously haven't been successful enough. Before I can put any of these to the test, I need to get past the pain. Last time it was almost 6 weeks before the pain started to fade. But again that was the time that I discovered the neck posture exercises. Hopefully the pain will receed much more quickly this time!

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This tip is similar to what metalmangeler said,

I have noticed all kinds of wood tool handles feeling slick at times. Hoes,axes, and hammers.

If your hands are dry, and the handle is shiny slick, you may be gripping really hard just to hold on to the hammer. If you feel the urge to spit on your palm to improve grip, you might wrap a bit of old fashioned 'friction tape' around the butt of the handle.

Friction tape is sticky stuff and you don't have to use a lot. I usually just put a double wrap around the last 1/2 in. of the handle. You can still get it at hardware stores.

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The whirl pool really does help. I have 2 herniated disc now. I'm waiting on the surgions now. I'm lucky though blacksmithing seems to help me. I've always held my hammer like Hoffi suggest and I think that helps. Overhead welding is what gets me.
Travis

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Thank you all for all your suggestions. I stayed home from work today the pain was so blinding this morning. I called my doctor about the pain and to get set up for an MRI but all they heard was MRI and never called back about the pain. So I went to a minor emergency clinic and talked to the doc there. He thinks it could be a herniated disk or possibly arthritis. He said get the MRI but also set me up with some Prednasone and Vicodan. The Prednasone won't start helping for up to 36 hours so the vicodan will help me sleep tonight. I'll keep you informed of how things go for me.
Larry

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I will definately vouch for the bad taste, haven't been able to get all the pills down at once and it's nasty! Haven't had any extreme hunger issues yet. I only have about a 10 day supply then down to a non steroidal anti-inflammatory. Hopefully the worst of the pain will be gone by then.

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Pinched nerve is not really the corect term though still widely used, if you actually had a pinched nerve you would be looking at being parylized, it's really not something that even happens, it's typically an irretated nerve or when muscles tighten up and or spasm they pull, twist and contort things which in turn give you pain.
I have 3 herniated 3 bulged and premature degeneration in almost all the rest, I wouldn't wish spinal/disc problems on my worst enemy, there are lots of exercises and stretches that you can do to build strength and loosen muscles, even if you don't have problems you should do them cause chances are you will have problems some day.
For me surgery is out of the question also due to too much risk of never being able to walk again, my life consits of exercise, stretching, chiropractor, inversion table(the best) lots of pain and lots of pain meds, trust me, you may think your bullet proof now but your not and everything you do to day is going to affect you down the road and there is no reversing the damage, if it's the only thing you do TAKE CARE OF YOUR BACK, it effects everything which you don't realize till you hurt it, even the simplest of tasks become difficult if not imposible and you end up not being able to do a lot of things that you really want to do.

welder19

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I hear you on not being bullet proof, I'm not "old" but not a young guy anymore either. I can see if I don't get this taken care of now, it could keep me from smithing and many other of my activities that I enjoy. Last year I was starting to get some lower back pain and problems but the wife and I started doing weight watchers and I lost 40 lbs. last year and I haven't had any lower back pain since. If I can get the root of my neck pain taken care of, then focus on proper smithing technique I think I might be ok in the long run.

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Having lived (and worked) with herniated disks without surgery (so far, knock on wood) since 1983, some hard-won advice: when you feel that awful buzzing tingle down the leg, give things a break and rest up. Take it easy. Don't try to rush things or force a recovery. It will do what it will do, heal up or retract, to a large degree in time. Go to a genuine M.D. with lots of experience, a boarded diplomate of the American College of Orthopaedic Surgery if at all possible, and get the MRIs and X-rays and CT scans and myelograms and find out what's wrong. This does not mean an operation is the next step. It can be a weight problem (your weight, notwhat you picked up that popped the disk) or a posture problem or weak lower back and ab muscles. Start fixing those problems when you feel up to it. First recommendation from my orthopod when I popped L-4-L5 (he has never suggested surgery) was to go lie down FLAT for a month. I did. The awful pain down in my shin and foot went away. Next time it happened years later, he said to keep moving as much as possible, and that worked, too. Try to avoid surgery. Stay FAR away from chiropractors. DO NOT EVER LET ONE WORK ON YOUR NECK!! And, stay cheerful. Do not expect much attention from doctors. Their eyes glaze and they start fidgeting, looking at their watch the minute they hear bad back. Good licensed hysical therapy, and Tai Chi and yoga all can help a lot, but remember: easy does it. Until it gets better, don't lift anything, not even your voice in song.

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