Years ago in an issue of Vogue Knitting, I began to read an article on knitting repetitive stress injuries that opened by reporting the story of a woman who was making a complicated sweater for her husband's Christmas present. Knitting long hours to meet a tight deadline made her hands hurt, but she really wanted to get finished on time, so she persisted until it was done. Thereby doing such damage to her hands that she had to take disability leave from work (and from her knitting and her housework and pretty much anything else she usually did, such as turning a doorknob to open a door) for something like four months. I couldn't bring myself to read the rest of the article, even though I knew I should, but soothed my terror as well as my hands by resolving in future not to work through knitting pain. If your hands hurt from knitting, it's time to take a break.
Once you've put the knitting aside, there are massage techniques to help ease the pain. Liat Gat of Knit Freedom has worked with her sister, a certified massage therapist, to produce an excellent post on self-massage techniques and stretches for knitters, complete with illustrative photos. They're easy to do and they feel terrific.
Coming up: Look for my review of the Twist Collective Spring 2013 issue tomorrow morning!