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#27716 - 01/20/04 08:11 AM Tendonitis
CJJ Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 08/05/03
Posts: 19
Loc: West Coast
I recently started a new adult student, and he informed me he has tendonitis in both hands and both feet. We have only had one lesson so far, but after playing a simple five-finger pattern he had to stop playing and complained of a little pain.

Do any of you know what I could do to help this student? Are there certain exercises that would benefit him? Or will playing the piano eventually deem harmful to his health?


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#27717 - 01/20/04 08:19 AM Re: Tendonitis
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
Some others on this board have had tendonitis related to piano technique and can speak more directly to it.

I've had it as sports-related injuries (lifting weights, etc.) and the only thing that got it to go away was by stopping what was exacerbating it and then not starting up again for a loooong time til after it was healed up. My educated guess would be if he's in that much pain already then he's not ready to start. \:\(

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#27718 - 01/20/04 10:37 AM Re: Tendonitis
KeyboardKandyce Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 118
Loc: Ca
I have struggled with this for the last 7 years but it hasn't stopped me from playing. :-) The doctor recommended that I stop playing for four months when first diagnosed. I tried this (torturous!! ;\) ) method and didn't see any improvement. Since then, I have wrapped my wrists when playing and taken ibuprofen if necessary.

Last September I took a job as the choir accompanist at a local high school. It was something I always wanted to do so I took advantage of it. I had to find a new method because I had been using athletic tape to wrap my wrists and it was a pain to deal with. I eventually found gloves at Longs Drugs that work wonderfully! They cover my hand and the fingers are cut off to let them be free. Also, at the wrist is an adjustable elastic velcro strap. (they are a lot like quilting gloves but wrap the wrist better). Since using those, I haven't had any trouble at all aside from occasional swelling. No pain though when I'm playing! I should have discovered them years ago!

Other advice would be to slowly warm up before and after each session and to keep practice sessions short. If he's just starting though, this is going to be a real mess to deal with and he'll have to decide if it's really worth his trouble and pain.

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#27719 - 01/22/04 07:58 AM Re: Tendonitis
minuet Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 01/03/04
Posts: 47
Loc: North Carolina
CJJ, I was a performance major who did not heed the advice of others about not over-practicing. The end result was physical therapy and only being able to practice 10 minutes a day for a semester. It eventually got better with wrist wraps and "aleve". Some things that also helped me were using ice, then heat on the arm after practicing. I also stayed away from hanon-type exercises for a while. Your student may need some time to heal before resuming regular lessons, or perhaps he could practice in shorter segments for a while. Hope this helps.

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#27720 - 01/22/04 05:15 PM Re: Tendonitis
Visualjoan Offline
New Member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 11
Loc: Reston, VA
The Taubman technique has helped. If it weren't for this technique I would not be playing. Exercises will only make it worse. My problem was with twisting and not using my thumb correctly. For more on the Taubman technique go to www.ednagolandsky.com.

Some things to watch for. Arms should be level with the floor and the student should be sitting high enough so there is no break in the wrist. He might have to sit on blankets.

I wonder why he has tendonitis in the feet? I take MSM for my tendonitis. It has been a God send. Massage is helpful as well as chiropractic. I happen to know alot about tendonitis from experience, unfortunately.

[ 01-22-2004: Message edited by: Visualjoan ]

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#27721 - 01/23/04 05:15 AM Re: Tendonitis
pianoc Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 1088
Loc: Goshen, Indiana
This is not a recommendation from experience - but in reading about wrist wraps and gloves with fingers cut out - I wondered if what my daughter does for Winter Guard might help. She does flags and rifles - and since she started rifles has needed more support for her wrists - but still needed the flexibility. She's been using 'vet wrap' - same stuff she uses for her horses ankles. It's similar to the athletic tape that my son uses for football, only it's wider, can be re-used if not too sweaty - and comes in many colors ( a plus for a 15 year old girl).

Anyway, she wraps her wrists, and then wears gloves for weight training - has the fingers cut out. That combination has made a pretty significant difference. If you want to try it - we get vet wrap at TSC, but any place that has horse supplies would have it.

Had it not been for her experience with her horse - and another girl on guard who's father is a vet - we would never have thought of it.

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#27722 - 01/23/04 02:35 PM Re: Tendonitis
KeyboardKandyce Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 118
Loc: Ca
I have used that before. It works well, but gets to be pretty costly. That's why I switched over to the gloves with the ace velcro strap. I suppose the combination of both would be extra supportive, but I wonder how much wrist flexibility would be left after that.

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#27723 - 01/26/04 02:24 PM Re: Tendonitis
CJJ Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 08/05/03
Posts: 19
Loc: West Coast
Thank you all for your helpful comments. I see him today, so I will suggest those gloves, and using hot and cold after playing. Hopefully this will help the poor guy. \:\)

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#27724 - 01/26/04 06:57 PM Re: Tendonitis
Carole Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/08/00
Posts: 2229
Loc: southern California
Has anyone experience partial numbness in the tips of their fingers? I don't think this has anything to do with tendonitis, but this has been going on with me for several months. It started out with numbness in both hands upon awakening. I know this happens to all of us but mine was more than the norm. Then the LH was ok but the RH had problems and now it seems to have settled into the 3rd finger of my RH. It does not affect my playing so far-is just annoying. I see my dr. Thursday about it. Very strange.

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#27725 - 01/26/04 08:21 PM Re: Tendonitis
KeyboardKandyce Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 118
Loc: Ca
Does the numbness only happen when you're playing the piano? If it's all the time, it could be a low iron count. I know that when my iron is low, things like that happen...numbness in the extremities. In high school, my bottom lip went numb. That sure leaves it hard to play the flute! ;\) I'm not a doctor, but eating some extra spinach or taking a few vitamins couldn't hurt! \:D

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#27726 - 01/26/04 10:14 PM Re: Tendonitis
Carole Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/08/00
Posts: 2229
Loc: southern California
Good idea. Never hurts to take vitamins. I have started a multi, an E and calcium. This numbness is constant and I don't believe piano playing has anything to do with it. I have an autoimmune disease but have never been diagnosed with the specifics. I really think it is linked to that. Hope I will find out this week.

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#27727 - 01/30/04 10:21 AM Re: Tendonitis
Visualjoan Offline
New Member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 11
Loc: Reston, VA
Chiropractic would be my first choice for numbness in the fingers. I had it and chiropractic took care of it almost immediately. Not only was my spine adjusted but my the arms. Not every chiropractor knows how to do arms, so I had to shop around.

I had chronic tendonitis and between chiropractic, MSM and calcuim I am now a functioning person.

For support I used Bandit with magnets. It didn't cut off the circulation like other elastic ace bandages can. It can be found over the internet.

[ 01-30-2004: Message edited by: Visualjoan ]

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#27728 - 01/30/04 10:35 AM Re: Tendonitis
Carole Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/08/00
Posts: 2229
Loc: southern California
Well, I got a diagnosis. I have Raynaud's Phenomenon. The blood vessels in the fingers constrict for reasons unknown. My dr. put me on a baby aspirin a day. During my checkup, he took my hands and said the palms were warm but the fingers, ice cold. I hope the aspirin will take care of the problem. Anyone ever had this?

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#27729 - 01/30/04 12:58 PM Re: Tendonitis
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
Carole, I have something similiar that I've messed off and on with for 25 years, only it's mostly in my toes. The old-fashoned word for it is chillblains, and they are AWFUL - extremely painful. I am suffering incredibly right now because my feet got chilled a couple of weeks ago (in a matter of minutes they turned into blocks of ice while riding in a car) and once the tissue damage has happened it's Too Late. We are also in a single digit freezing pattern here right now and expecting 14 inches of snow in the next 48 hours, so that will not help things.

Yesterday I could feel it going into my hands and started paying attention immediately. I think I thwarted it from the fingers for now. Wearing layers, keeping the extremities active and preventing it is the best thing according to the doctors. (I also am using a space heater - try combining that with "flashes" and you can just guess what kind of mood I'm in. ;\) ) There's quite a bit on the web but be warned the pictures can be HORRIFYING! \:D

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#27730 - 01/30/04 07:23 PM Re: Tendonitis
Carole Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/08/00
Posts: 2229
Loc: southern California
Oh Lisa, that is awful. I read that Raynaud's can also be in your feet (or toes), but I have not had that. Do we have the same thing? It is so weird how all of a sudden this came on. Never had anything like it before. I still believe it is auto-immune related. I hope you will feel better soon. Stay under an electric blanket or better yet, come for a visit with me in mild California.

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#27731 - 02/13/04 12:54 AM Re: Tendonitis
Piano lady Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 361
I have chronic tendonitis in both arms + a problem with the ulnar nerve which causes numbness in 4 & 5 of both hands. Fun. I tried Taubmann for a while, but didn't have the patience to learn all of the ins and outs -- I'm an intuitive learner and that's not really suited to learning technical stuff. However, what I did learn has helped a lot and I was able to incorporate it in my technique.

I haven't played a technical exercise for over 3 years now, much less anything resembling one. If I need scale work I'll play Mozart or Scarlatti. If I need general work, I'll play Bach. My cutoff is Schubert. I pretty much avoid anything with big chords and highly repetitive motions (I think I can burn the Chopin Etudes finally), but there is plenty of music without them.

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