medical question : hand tremors, locking joints after working on your board or fin?

this question is specifically for those who’ve felt something odd or irksome after working on a board or a fin, like finger joints that feel ‘locked’, if not shaky hands or hand tremors right after washing up or taking a shower after working on your project manually— meaning no power tools, just hand tools for cutting / shaping / sanding / polishing.

ever felt anything like this ? since what age? how did / do you deal with the discomfort or pain? 

I had been severly ripped off by my factory manager in Fla., had absolutely no money to pay a polisher, but had a 13 board order for BC’s in Ft. Lauderdale, so I spent an entire day getting them all polished for delivery the next day.

Hanging onto a 5,000 Milwaukee cast metal polisher for 12 hours left me with hand tremors for several days afterwards, you can only trigger a tool like that for so long before you feel the effects.

Until I got my own place in Ca., I had to share rooms with John Kies, Will Jobson, Steve Clark, but many days I couldn’t shape until after 5 PM, gotta’ work, Fins Unlmited is next door, foil fins until I could trade a grinder for a planer, I got acute tendonitis in my left wrist from hanging onto a 6,000 RPM grinder, I could hear it squeek when I bent my wrist, I looked like Popeye with this freak bulge on my wrist, one night I foiled 587 fins, crawled into bed at 3 AM


No matter how old you are your muscles have a point of no return that will render them cramped and painful, no different than going to the gym and lifting weights. You also have a much higher concentration of connective tissue in your hands which, if aggrevated, can become inflamed and irritated. This inflammation leads to the "locking" you describe. One of the best things you can do is take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen before you start to shape. After you shape you can ice your hands to releive some of the discomfort. Also realize that as you get older that circulation will generally be less profuse at the extremities and therefor will lead to worse oxygenation on the muscle tissue in your hands this = sore muscles.

I find that if you stretch your hands periodically throughout your shaping session you can lessen the discomfort.  Also, be mindful of your body as you shape. It is amazing how much pain you can block out when you are concentrating deeply on something. Then when you are done, BAM!! you are in pain.


Just a thought


Its all down hill after 30.  Bad neck, bad right hip and now numbness in my left pinkie and ring finger due to a nerve in my wrist.  The injuries just keep adding up.

Been dealing with work and surf related neck and shoulder injuries for years and tool use of many kinds often affects me negatively. Besides the anti-inflammatories and ice, try not to grip tools super tight. Also, wearing padded palm anti vibration gloves helps, especially with power tools but also with any tool you have to grip firmly..

nudge, nudge..  

sounds like your hands are tired. 

I found that hiring a 22 year old Art Student as a human multi-tool helped a lot. He works real cheap.

Ibuprofen can trash your gut.  A lot of “mysterious” g.i. problems are caused by using it.  Worse, there is some evidence that ibuprofen other NSAIDs inhibit cartilage synthesis and accelerate cartilage destruction over time.  Much better to use nutritional type approaches like glucosamine sulfate and MSM and/or herbal anti-inflammatories that have only beneficial “side-effects” (turmeric, bromelain, boswellin, ginger, devil’s claw,… lots of them out there and a lot of pretty good, synergistic blends).

Diet a pretty big factor as well.  Coffee will make any inflammation worse and more likely to occur as will sugar, junk food in general…

hey, thanks for the inputs y’all. had my first ‘incident’ 2 weekends back after working on some solid-wood nose rail pieces.

i really didn’t know what to make of it as i never felt anything like it back when i still had time for after-work gym sessions, nor in the past year or so that i’d been working on my HWS assembly during weekends. my hands/finger joints were ok while i was working on those pieces, but i remember washing up a couple of times and then getting back to my sawing, and then getting a shower after i was done. by early evening a couple of finger joints (i’m right-handed) started feeling ‘locked’, and to relieve the discomfort, i tried ‘cracking’ my knuckles & finger joints, as well as pressing my hands/fingers together to ‘flex’ the joints. felt some slight hand tremors the day after, it didn’t last very long but being my first, it made me ask myself whether my age was finally beginning to assert itself hehe.

i intentionally withheld these details from my first post as i wanted to determine whether the condition was a local cultural quirk, and not a general medical/health concern that held true regardless where you lived. this condition is called ‘pasma’ in the philippines, and whenever you’re experiencing it, you’re ‘pasmado’.


doctors say it's not a medical condition but local tradition says otherwise. i grew up generally unmindful of it as my mom never complained of getting it from her daily home chores, and an aunt who taught music back then & played the piano for hours on end also said there's no such thing as 'pasma' (she's nearing 80 and still accompanies the choir during sunday mass). 

on the other hand, an elder sister who now teaches music and plays the piano for hours on end insists on the use of hand sanitizers and/or alcohol instead of hand-washing after she's done, making sure she doesn't immerse her hands in water within a few hours from her piano exercises to keep from getting 'pasmado.'

i found these links yesterday and i’m not sure whether the doctor’s ‘hot-to-cold’ hypothesis still holds true where you guys are :�Pasma�_(Part_1)�Pasma�_(Part_2)

Well, from my perspective as a white, aging Boomer, Chinese Medicine practitioner in the US, those old Phillipinos are spot on!  Fits right in w/ Chinese Medicine and also any and all other traditional ie non-technological medical systems. In Chinese Medicine, Heat, Cold, Damp;, Wind  are all capitalized to indicate they are specific medical terms referring to environmental influences that effect the body.  Also, they are terms for “internal body weather” ie you can have Damp accumulation in your body caused by diet for example.  The Phillipines have had a big Chinese influence, yes? so likely this whole story originated in that medical system.  And it is indeed very real!

How susceptible to these "environment’ influences depends on the strength/vitality of your unique body.  If you are over tired, stressed, malnourished, etc you will be more susceptible.  Aging also gradually reduces overall vitality to some extent.  For example, over the 10 or 12 years I lived in Sonoma County, I found myself gradually getting more sensitive to the cold water.  Back in the late 60’s I surfed for hours at a time in Santa Cruz wearing nothing but a short leg Farmer John w/ a beaver tail jacket that leaked.  Now, a full 5/4 w/ integral hood is almost mandatory for me.  So what you experience in your hands is likely a localized, “meridian obstruction” and nothing to really worry about. You just do not want to keep redoing it and ignoring it.  And yeah, it is likely just aging asserting itself.  So take breaks when you work, washing hands is fine after, just use warm water, not cold and dry them w/ a towel rather than air dry.  Eat cinnamon and fresh ginger to warm and circulate the energy in the superficial meridians… Fresh ginger tea tastes great anyway.

So the real solution, is to just be mindful of your limitations and eat well, get enough rest, don’t expose your body to sudden, shock temp changes etc. unless of course it is cold out and the surf is pumping then you just better do it!  And of course you have to live your life and have fun etc so just keep “balance” as one part of your overall equation and go for it.

Surfiber, just to be complete since this is on line and all:


Doctor's have told you it is not medical condition but is that based on full work-up, including cardio?  Most likely it is in fact what I talked about above BUT those sorts of odd sensations, cramping etc in hand(s) can also be prelude to heart attack or even the only real felt symptoms of actual, mild one!  I really do not want to instill fear or paranoia but on the other hand, finding that out could be a life saver!  I would suck but also be far far better than not knowing until something really big happened.

I put this last bit in forum instead of as pm so that future readers might come across it and be tipped off as well...

heya doc,

to clarify, i was referring to ‘pasma’ re : “doctors say it’s not a medical condition but local tradition says otherwise.

the annual physical exam sponsored by my employers covers a wide spectrum of tests, and save for the gouty arthritis i’ve had since my late 20s, i’m ok i guess. my diet’s heavily regulated to keep away uric acid and i’ve long stopped eating pork, beef, beans, nuts, soy products and all sorts of tasty-but-uric-acid-rich foods— including innards (they taste real good if you know how to prepare local dishes made of 'em). the post-woodwork hand tremors & finger joint locking puzzled me more than anything else. i just hope it doesn’t lead to further damage.

i’m quite surprised to learn you’re adept with the ‘Heat-Cold-Damp-Wind’ references in traditional medicine hehe. one local treatment that i’ve also seen in some chinese AND italian period movies involves lighting up a piece of oil-drenched cotton, placing it on the chest or behind the lungs of the patient and then covering it with a drinking glass to ‘remove the cold/damp’ from the body as the flame dies out in the resulting vacuum.

having undergone that treatment from a neighborhood ‘healer’ who fixed up my shoulder sprain from a cycling accident some 18 years back, i really don’t know how it works but people here seem to associate hospital & specialty clinic visits with major illnesses, preferring to visit trusted neighborhood healers for minor ailments as they don’t ask for any payment (but will accept any form of donation). in my case i was fresh out of college at that time, and advised by campus neighbors to go and being curious how it’d turn out, i did and it turned out ok. 

re “sudden, shock temperature changes” — isn’t that actually part of western medicine today?

one time back in college i got wheeled to the campus infirmary after my fever temperature shot up too high, and the nurses in the emergency ward practically dumped bags of ice all over my body. i was shaking from my chills right then and i remember passing out with the feeling that my body temp was falling too abruptly. i woke up in a few hours feeling a whole lot better.

i’m mentioning this as local tradition for dealing with fever, on the other hand, is to cover the body with thick blankets to keep the cold away ! hehe


Heck ya!  Cupping rocks when done by someone who knows how and where!!!  Bring a chicken or some cash and go see one of those “local Docs” as they may well have a preventive tune-up treatment on offer custom tailored for your constitution.  Seriously!  There is great depth in that medicine and the original idea behind it all was to spot and correct trouble BEFORE it really becomes trouble.

hmm i’m not sure i’d want to go back to that old lady who fixed my shoulder sprain. she’d been a licensed midwife before her neighbors began taking their kids & retiree-age elders to her for all sorts of ailments, and while her standard coconut-oil-and-banana-leaf dressing and latin prayers that came with each treatment didn’t bother me, her ‘reading’ of candle-drip patterns on a basin of water to determine the cause of aches & pains somewhat tested my faith in all things ancient. she was not only a healer, she was also a ‘seer’ and ‘intermediary’ for elementals in the spirit world that held absolute property rights over our world !

on my 2nd & last visit for a checkup on an inexplicably-swollen/stiff jaw, she also ‘read’ my future without my asking for it " ) too bad she wasn’t able to predict i was going to be hobbled by arthritis after 5 years, and getting addicted to surfing after 10 years hehe



   Howzit Mr. Clean.You may be the smartest one here for doing that. My fingers start cramping if I use a paint brush for over 2 hours and it hurts til the next day when it goes away. Aloha,Kokua

hey kokua, any medication? home remedy? 

    Howzit surfiber,I just ice my fingers and massage and move them a lot  til it stops, could maybe try some icehot or some thing along that line.Aloha,Kokua

all this worrying about joint stiffness & involuntary muscle tremors suddenly reminds me of common centering, limbering & conditioning exercises done before and after fight sequence steps or kata during martial arts practice, whether aikido, karate, judo or whatnot.

seems like they help regulate/stabilize not just breathing & blood pressure, but also muscle/nerve response-- on AND off the mat. personally it sounds silly to even contemplate doing similar exercises just to prevent the hand/finger ‘inconveniences’  from happening again, but hey if it works, why not…

    Howzit surfiber, I can hear the boss now" Hey Wildog I'm not paying you to do exercises now get back to work" .Aloha,Kokua

hehe! in that case they better do it at home, in the john " )