Clapping My Hands in Joy Instead of Pain

While clapping my hands this morning in my dance class, I marveled at the lack of pain.

Seven years ago, on 1/11/11, when I joined the health club, my hands were a mess.

Clapping my hands for joy instead of pain, osteoarthritis, hand injuries, Zumba, hand injury recovery, health clubs, new year of exerciseBut other health issues drove me, a woman who had walked three miles a day for twenty-five years, to the gym.

I needed to improve my cardiovascular system and get a handle on several other things.

My hands, the specialist had said, were a lost cause, but I could improve other aspects of my health.

Why did clapping my hands hurt?

The debilitating pain arrived suddenly.

But the problem had been building for some time.

My clever hands, which I had never taken for granted, suddenly couldn’t grasp scissors well.

The thumb and index finger pinching couldn’t hold a needle for any length of time.

I could only pull weeds from the half-acre yard for ten minutes before my hands ached.

But after a twenty-mile bike ride, they burned.

And I couldn’t grasp and turn the door knobs comfortably any more.

This former percussionist winced at the thought of clapping.

The doctor visits

My regular doctor ordered x-rays which showed little cartilage left in the joint at the base of my thumbs.

Photo by Tanner Boriack on Unsplash

With all my piano playing, sewing, gardening, cooking, typing and living, I had worn them out.

The good doctor advised me to invest in speech-recognition software so I could continue to write.

(I know it works for a lot of people; I couldn’t master it so currently, I still type).

He also sent me to a specialist.

That man waltzed in late, glanced at the x-rays and told me there was nothing to be done.

But I’d heard of a shot?

“I can give you one steroid shot and that’s it for the rest of your life. Choose when you want it. It may not work anyway.”

He didn’t want to answer questions, he didn’t want to hear about my life. Open. Shut. He was done.

I told him I’d think about it–only one shot for my whole life?

“That’s it,” he said. “Call me when you want it.” He walked out.

I cried all the way home.

Choosing to be thankful.

I had always thanked God for my hands. I had used them to his glory throughout my life–with music, writing, sewing, living.

How could this happen to me?

I allowed myself time to grieve and complain to God.

The Bible had an answer for me in Isaiah 55:12, ironic because I loved to sing this song:

“You shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace;

The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you,

And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

The logical part of my mind reminded me hand issues are not monumental in the grand scheme of life. I lived in a time where I could get help.

So, I went to the store and purchased $200 worth of hand-adaptive items for the kitchen. (Thank you, OXO). For the first time ever, we owned an electric can opener.

I determined to be thankful for what I could still do and not complain–much.

Clapping once more

Which takes me back to the gym.

I had to wear what I called “mitts” to stabilize the base of my thumbs. This was particularly important while lifting weights–which I now did.

I needed them mostly to make sure I didn’t hyperextend or overuse my thumbs.

Three days a week in my Zumba class, I didn’t need to wear them at all, and the freedom to fling my hands felt lovely.

But clapping?

At most a delicate finger touch on my opposite palm. The deep glorious noisy clapping of my past was done.

But within a few months of dancing regularly, my hands felt stronger.

Within a year, I could lift the five-pound weights if I forgot my mitts.

I haven’t worn them in years.

What happened?

What difference did dancing, of all things, make that I can clap now?

Perhaps the different movement increased the blood supply to my hands?

I haven’t had an x-ray in seven years and never did get that steroid shot.

My hands simply feel better–and they’re warmer, too.

Clapping my hands for joy instead of pain, osteoarthritis, hand injuries, Zumba, hand injury recovery, health clubs, new year of exercise

Photo by Wilfredo R Rodriguez (WIkipedia Commons)

I still use all the adaptive tools. I’m still wary of a doorknob, and I can’t really weed anymore (so we bought a house with a much smaller yard).

I’m leery of picking up a five-pound bag of flour with one hand and I’ve given up needlepoint.

But I can still type and play my clarinet.

2011 marked the year my first book was published.

The seventh and eighth books came out in 2017.

Given the state of my hands seven years ago, I don’t believe any of that would have been possible without dancing and the health club.

I’m clapping my hands in thanksgiving this morning!

Thanks be to God.


Another reason to visit the gym: improving thumb osteoarthritis. Click to Tweet

Being thankful to dance–and thus use my thumbs again! Click to Tweet

Having trouble with arthritis in your hands? Have you considered dancing? Click to Tweet


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  1. Sharon Manning

     /  January 18, 2018

    Praising God with you.


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