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#1101777 - 12/16/07 03:58 PM Odd pain in elbow
FLMikeATT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 106
Loc: Port St. Lucie
So last night I was practicing the song 'Terra'(also known as Tina) from the FF6 Piano Collection (I think some of you might be familiar with it). It has a really active left hand for pretty much the whole piece. I think I went overboard practicing the left hand arpeggios a little bit. I didn't notice any pain while I was playing, but a few hours later my elbow started to give me twinges of pain when I moved it. I went to sleep hoping that it would vanish by the next day (today).

So I sat down at the piano about an hour ago to see what was up. When I play softly and smoothly I didn't feel anything, but when I played songs that have F, MF, or FF in it (requiring more pressure) or a quick tempo, I got the twinges of pain again. I immediately stopped playing for fear of injury.

Now, the pain isn't really all that painful (just annoying little twinges really), and it's just in my left elbow. No wrist or finger pain, and my elbow isn't swollen at all so I don't think it's that bad. I'm pretty sure it isn't just muscle soreness (I know all too well what that feels like), but I don't think it's really that serious either. Is this just a minor thing that will disappear in a few days? I don't know how long I can stay away from the piano \:\( .

Has anything like this happened to any of you, and should I be worried?

Oh, and here's a link to the song I was playing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uns6tHo2Fc0

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#1101778 - 12/16/07 04:01 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17746
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I've never had a pain in my elbow, but I've had annoying twinges or incipient pain. It usually happens when I've been working hard on one new piece, very repetitively. And when I'm working on a new piece I'm usually not able to concentrate on playing totally relaxed.

What has worked for me in every case is just to ease up on playing the particular new piece I felt to be responsible for the pain... maybe just work on it 5 minutes a day for a while.

If you've caught that "annoying twinge" before it's become "outright injury," you should find that it goes away after a couple of days of not stressing it.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1101779 - 12/16/07 04:20 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
CC2 and Chopin lover Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/06
Posts: 1981
Sounds like you have the beginnings of an injury caused by repetitive movement known as epicondylitis. It can be either lateral, (on the outside of the elbow), or medial, (on the inside). The pain is the early onset of microscopic tears in the tendons that connect the muscles of the forearm to the protrusions, known as epicondyles, of the upper arm bone, (humerus). These muscles are the ones that control the movement of the wrists and fingers. These micro tears create inflammation that can become chronic if the activity that caused them persists. Ice massage directly to the area, combined with appropriate NSAIDS and rest are what are called for, before the condition progresses. A word to the wise.
_________________________
Piano Technician/Tuner

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#1101780 - 12/16/07 04:29 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
FLMikeATT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 106
Loc: Port St. Lucie
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
I've never had a pain in my elbow, but I've had annoying twinges or incipient pain. It usually happens when I've been working hard on one new piece, very repetitively. And when I'm working on a new piece I'm usually not able to concentrate on playing totally relaxed.

What has worked for me in every case is just to ease up on playing the particular new piece I felt to be responsible for the pain... maybe just work on it 5 minutes a day for a while.

If you've caught that "annoying twinge" before it's become "outright injury," you should find that it goes away after a couple of days of not stressing it. [/b]
Yeah, I probably wasn't very relaxed in my playing, and I did play the arpeggios over and over (at full speed) to get it stored in my long term memory. The thing is, repetitive stuff usually doesn't bother me. I spend a lot of time on playing scales and arpeggios repetitively (until I'm satisfied, which might take 20-30 repetitions of a particular scale or arpeggio sometimes), and while tiring, I've never gotten this pain in my elbow before. Perhaps it was because of bad technique?

I think I will just take a break and study sheet music and theory for a few days, or only practice with my right hand. I really don't want to seriously injure myself and have to go to the doctor. I just got done rehabbing a knee injury from sports and I do not want to (or have the funds to) go through the whole process of seeing doctors, getting MRI's, going to rehab again. Although that would be highly unlikely, I literally can't afford to take the chance.

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#1101781 - 12/16/07 04:31 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
FLMikeATT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 106
Loc: Port St. Lucie
 Quote:
Originally posted by CC2 and Chopin lover:
Sounds like you have the beginnings of an injury caused by repetitive movement known as epicondylitis. It can be either lateral, (on the outside of the elbow), or medial, (on the inside). The pain is the early onset of microscopic tears in the tendons that connect the muscles of the forearm to the protrusions, known as epicondyles, of the upper arm bone, (humerus). These muscles are the ones that control the movement of the wrists and fingers. These micro tears create inflammation that can become chronic if the activity that caused them persists. Ice massage directly to the area, combined with appropriate NSAIDS and rest are what are called for, before the condition progresses. A word to the wise. [/b]
ok, now I'm officially freaked out. So ice the area and give a lot of rest? Also, what is NSAIDS?

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#1101782 - 12/16/07 04:40 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
CC2 and Chopin lover Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/06
Posts: 1981
No need to freak out. The good news is you caught it early. This condition is MUCH more difficult to treat once it becomes chronic and more damage is done. NSAIDS are "Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs", better known as aspirin, ibuprofen(Advil, Motrin), Naproxin sodium (Alleve). Cross friction massage, (across the fibers of the tendon) will also help. Also, gentle stretching of these muscles and tendons is beneficial.
_________________________
Piano Technician/Tuner

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#1101783 - 12/16/07 04:45 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
bluekeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 1337
Hi Mike,
Your situation sounds similar to mine, so here is a thread I started a couple of weeks ago.

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/topic/32/5505.html

In researching my problem, I learned the tendons in the hands that perform finger movement extend from the elbow to the tips of the fingers, and you are quite possibly experiencing the onset of RSI due to repeated stress on those tendons. Here is another link that talks about it:

http://pianomap.com/injuries/

I've been trying to take it a little easier by practicing HS and frequently rotating my hands, using an electric massager on my elbow, and trying to use less stressful motions. (Unfortunately I'm a piano addict, so I still practice too much. : ;\) I think I've prevented the problem from getting worse, but it's not really getting better either.

Lol, and please keep us posted if you learn of helpful treatments for this problem

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#1101784 - 12/16/07 04:48 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
FLMikeATT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 106
Loc: Port St. Lucie
Thanks for the advice. How often should I should I take NSAIDS? Twice a day?

Now, this will heal in time if I don't stress it right? If you read my response to Monica's post above, you will see that I can't afford any more doctor visits for awhile. How long do you think it will take for an injury like this to heal? I practice 2-3 hours a day usually. I would hate to not be able to play for a few weeks.

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#1101785 - 12/16/07 04:54 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
FLMikeATT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 106
Loc: Port St. Lucie
 Quote:
Originally posted by bluekeys:
Hi Mike,
Your situation sounds similar to mine, so here is a thread I started a couple of weeks ago.

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/topic/32/5505.html

In researching my problem, I learned the tendons in the hands that perform finger movement extend from the elbow to the tips of the fingers, and you are quite possibly experiencing the onset of RSI due to repeated stress on those tendons. Here is another link that talks about it:

http://pianomap.com/injuries/

I've been trying to take it a little easier by practicing HS and frequently rotating my hands, using an electric massager on my elbow, and trying to use less stressful motions. (Unfortunately I'm a piano addict, so I still practice too much. : ;\) I think I've prevented the problem from getting worse, but it's not really getting better either.

Lol, and please keep us posted if you learn of helpful treatments for this problem [/b]
That sucks. I read most of the 'injury' threads but I didn't think it could happen to me because I'm only 19 and I'm in really good shape....

\:\(

I guess I'll have to take it really easy for awhile. I don't think my insurance will cover another serious injury.

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#1101786 - 12/16/07 04:58 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
CC2 and Chopin lover Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/06
Posts: 1981
As I said above, continuing the activity that did the damage originally will prevent healing, as the fibers continue to be damaged and scar tissue cannot fully heal the area. Just read bluekeys post above and you will see that he/she is experiencing this. Just be certain you use whatever medication you choose according to directions and be aware of contraindications and side effects. Cut your practice back to fifteen to thirty minutes and stop immediately if pain develops, persists or increases. With proper rest this could heal in 4 to 6 weeks. Bluekeys, in response to your post, I'd advise you to read mine above.
_________________________
Piano Technician/Tuner

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#1101787 - 12/16/07 05:31 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
FLMikeATT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 106
Loc: Port St. Lucie
 Quote:
Originally posted by CC2 and Chopin lover:
As I said above, continuing the activity that did the damage originally will prevent healing, as the fibers continue to be damaged and scar tissue cannot fully heal the area. Just read bluekeys post above and you will see that he/she is experiencing this. Just be certain you use whatever medication you choose according to directions and be aware of contraindications and side effects. Cut your practice back to fifteen to thirty minutes and stop immediately if pain develops, persists or increases. With proper rest this could heal in 4 to 6 weeks. Bluekeys, in response to your post, I'd advise you to read mine above. [/b]
Will do. Thanks for all the help. \:\)

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#1101788 - 12/16/07 06:00 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
bluekeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 1337
While cutting back on practice, stretching, massaging, taking nsaids, etc may be helpful in the short term, I tend to agree with several experts I found in my research who feel the only long term solution is to develop techniques that are less stressful.

In some ways I'm fortunate to be experiencing this early in my piano life, as my habits are less ingrained. Unfortunately, most of the formal methods for learning low stress techinque, such as the Taubman/Golandsky Method are too expensive and not really appropriate for an older beginner, so I'm trying instead to learn from books, such as those by Seymore Fink and Thomas Mark. I'm also trying to find a teacher who is skilled in low stress techniques.

Anyway, the stop gap measures will have to do until I find a better technique. But I don't think it makes sense to just slow down for a while then go back to doing what caused the injury.

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#1101789 - 12/16/07 06:21 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
Alexander Hanysz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 141
Loc: Adelaide, South Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by FLMikeATT:
Has anything like this happened to any of you, and should I be worried?[/b]
Yes, and not yet (but be cautious).

Here's a stretching exercise that might help a little bit. It certainly can't do any harm, as long as you're gentle with it.

Stick your left arm out in front of you, with the arm straight and the back of your hand upwards (so that the palm is facing the floor). Flex your wrist so that your fingers are pointing towards the floor (the palm should be facing towards you now). Now put your right hand on the back of the left hand and pull towards you gently--as much as you can without it hurting. Hold that position for ten seconds. Relax for a few seconds. Then bend your wrist the other way (fingers pointing to the ceiling; palm away from you). Put your right hand on the palm of your left hand, same thing, pull towards you gently for ten seconds, relax. Repeat the whole thing three times.

Keeping the arm straight will give you the strongest stretch. If it's painful to stretch this way, then you can make it gentler by bending the elbow.

As others have said, ibuprofen or similar will help a little bit.

If the pain gets any worse at all, or if it hasn't gone away within two weeks, it would be a good idea to go to a doctor or a well qualified physiotherapist.

Also, whether this gets better or not, you really should have a few sessions with a teacher to make sure your arpeggio technique is OK.

Good luck with this--let us know how it goes.

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#1101790 - 12/16/07 08:31 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
CC2 and Chopin lover Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/06
Posts: 1981
Bluekeys stated:

Anyway, the stop gap measures will have to do until I find a better technique. But I don't think it makes sense to just slow down for a while then go back to doing what caused the injury.[/b]

If you read the advice I gave, you will find that I clearly stated, more than once, that one must discontinue the activities that caused the injury to begin with. That doesn't mean just for the short term, but over the long term as well. Finding alternate ways of practicing and playing are part of the cure for this condition.
_________________________
Piano Technician/Tuner

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#1101791 - 12/16/07 09:00 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
bluekeys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 1337
CC2&C - I didn't mean to suggest you said anything whatsoever. I was just describing my own thought process.

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#1101792 - 12/16/07 09:28 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
FLMikeATT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 106
Loc: Port St. Lucie
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alexander Hanysz:
 Quote:
Originally posted by FLMikeATT:
Has anything like this happened to any of you, and should I be worried?[/b]
Yes, and not yet (but be cautious).

Here's a stretching exercise that might help a little bit. It certainly can't do any harm, as long as you're gentle with it.

Stick your left arm out in front of you, with the arm straight and the back of your hand upwards (so that the palm is facing the floor). Flex your wrist so that your fingers are pointing towards the floor (the palm should be facing towards you now). Now put your right hand on the back of the left hand and pull towards you gently--as much as you can without it hurting. Hold that position for ten seconds. Relax for a few seconds. Then bend your wrist the other way (fingers pointing to the ceiling; palm away from you). Put your right hand on the palm of your left hand, same thing, pull towards you gently for ten seconds, relax. Repeat the whole thing three times.

Keeping the arm straight will give you the strongest stretch. If it's painful to stretch this way, then you can make it gentler by bending the elbow.

As others have said, ibuprofen or similar will help a little bit.

If the pain gets any worse at all, or if it hasn't gone away within two weeks, it would be a good idea to go to a doctor or a well qualified physiotherapist.

Also, whether this gets better or not, you really should have a few sessions with a teacher to make sure your arpeggio technique is OK.

Good luck with this--let us know how it goes. [/b]
Thanks a lot. This seems like a really good exercise. I'll do this along with icing the area and using NSAIDS as well as either not playing with my left hand for awhile or taking really easy and practicing for only 20 minutes instead of my usual hour and a half twice a day.

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#1101793 - 11/10/08 05:48 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
Konzert Patrick Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 791
Loc: The Netherlands
Hi guys,

Thanks for all the information so far.

I have a bit of the same, I have both my elbows hurting if I play to long. I have had RSI on my right arm (from working on the computer, that has almost cured now as I don't work with computers no more) but only developed pain in my left elbow since I started playing piano.(I play a year now) I have fysiotherapy and acupunture. This all helps but my therapist tells me to play max 15 minutes per hour. If I stick to this both my elbows are sort of ok. I have a brace on each arms while playing so that the tendons can rest. My question is.... will this ever go away or will it always stay a weak spot? I feel stupid playing piano with braces on!
I take vitamins, omega oils, magnesium etc all to make sure I am healthy. I am 35 year old male and would like to become a better pianist but it seems my body won't let me.
Anyone has any other suggestions?


Thank,
Patrick
_________________________
Schimmel Konzert 189 Tradition

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#1101794 - 11/10/08 06:05 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by GC1Patrick:
I have a brace on each arms while playing so that the tendons can rest. My question is.... will this ever go away or will it always stay a weak spot? I feel stupid playing piano with braces on!
... Anyone has any other suggestions?


Thank,
Patrick [/b]
FWIW - maybe nothing...House I am not (weak reference to the Hugh Laurie role of a brilliant doctor that he plays on TV...)

When I had a similar-sounding pain in my left elbow, it got so bad I went to a few doctors and my cure was to wear a wrist brace. I had a real fancy one that costs millions, but my doctor told me the cheap ones from a local drug store work just as well. I was skeptical about a wrist brace for elbow pain, but darn if it did not work. I wore it for about 2 weeks, and cut down on "heavy" use, and it cleared right up without ever coming back, so far.

I could not tell by your note if you are using wrist or elbow braces, so thought I would mention it as an option if you have not tried one yet.
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#1101795 - 11/10/08 07:29 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
shir Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/05/08
Posts: 34
Loc: The Hague, netherlands
Hello FLMikeAt,

I do recognize your feeling about your situation, becouse yours is a bit like mine. It takes courage (for me...) to write about physical problems. But, if it's the couse...

If I were you: I would contact the last doctor in attendance, & ask if it's ok to continue. Negative consequances? I would stop for a while.

Good luck & my best whishes, Shirley.

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#1101796 - 11/10/08 08:24 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
It's certainly epycodindilitis.
Believe me, you don't want this bastard to progress. At some point you might feel annoying needles, electric shocks, numbness all over your arms and fingers, and then pain, as if something were crashing the bones of your hands and wrist. It's literally something that can drive you crazy and make you wish to rip off your arm for good.

It's not repetition that causes this, but playig with a tight elbow and using umproper motions in rotating the forearm. It is the major source of injury for pianists, typers, writers, weight lifters, bakers, winds players, tennis players and more, unlike bad shoulder use, which might cause pain and strain, but rarely will lead to injury. My suggestions has someone who suffered tendonitis and epicondilitis at the age of 14.

1) Stop using your arm for a week. Stop playing, writing, holding cutleries, washing your teeth, typing, using the remote control, driving, picking up objects. You're like, that in your case the pain is in the left hand.

2)Do three times a day exercise of relaxation and proper rotation. Touch the elbow with the other hand, and consciously reduce the tightness and focus on making it free and mobile. Focus on rotating your palm upside down, by moving your forearm around the axis of the pinky imaginary straigh line. Make sure there's no strain, awkwardness or tension in rotation.

3) Do contrast hydrotherapy, by filling a sink with very hot water and one sink with very cold water. Alternate dipping the forearm in hot and col water for many consecutives time, ending with cold water. Do this three times a day

4) Apply an anti-inflammatory non-steroid gel or cream in the elbow area and 2 inches above and below.

5) Massage the tendons of the elbow using friction message, which is known to speed up the healing of tendons.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hclFBUiRtbk

6) Apply ice for a minute or less in the affected area after your massage.

If you felt pain, then you've already inflamed and damaged the tendons. There's no such a thing as an onset of tendonitis or epycondilitis. You can feel the pain, only when the damage is occurred, not before. So take this seriuosly and you will heal.

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#1101797 - 11/11/08 09:41 AM Re: Odd pain in elbow
Blackbird Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/08
Posts: 125
Loc: Cornwall UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
It's certainly epycodindilitis.
[/b]
Ah, the certainty of youth.

How refreshing

The only thing I'm now certain of is my occasional fallibility

;\)
_________________________
http://blackbirdlearnspiano.wordpress.com/

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#1101798 - 11/11/08 10:35 AM Re: Odd pain in elbow
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Blackbird:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
It's certainly epycodindilitis.
[/b]
Ah, the certainty of youth.

How refreshing

The only thing I'm now certain of is my occasional fallibility

;\) [/b]
Well, I had epycondilitis and the circumstances, correlation to piano playing, symptoms and general lack of other health problems, makes it almost certainly an epycondilitis. Or better yet, considering the symptoms, within the typical kinds of tendons/muscles damage it is certainly epicondolitis (not tendonitis, not carpal tunell, not tenosynuvitis) But there's a small chance it might be cause by something else like sclerosis, disc compression, herniated disc ... but very unlikely.

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#1101799 - 11/11/08 11:26 AM Re: Odd pain in elbow
Blackbird Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/08
Posts: 125
Loc: Cornwall UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
Well, I had epycondilitis and the circumstances, correlation to piano playing, symptoms and general lack of other health problems, makes it almost certainly an epycondilitis. Or better yet, considering the symptoms, within the typical kinds of tendons/muscles damage it is certainly epicondolitis (not tendonitis, not carpal tunell, not tenosynuvitis) But there's a small chance it might be cause by something else like sclerosis, disc compression, herniated disc ... but very unlikely. [/QB]
I find myself being a virtual desert of medical knowledge, unless it pertains to me. So I will bow to your expertise.

I do however have an unending supply of one-liners.

"All Indians walk in single file. At least the one I saw did."

I pluck out as most apt.

Or could I just be "pulling your tail" metaphorically speaking

\:\)
_________________________
http://blackbirdlearnspiano.wordpress.com/

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#1101800 - 11/11/08 12:01 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Go for it Blackbird.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1101801 - 11/11/08 12:22 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Blackbird:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
Well, I had epycondilitis and the circumstances, correlation to piano playing, symptoms and general lack of other health problems, makes it almost certainly an epycondilitis. Or better yet, considering the symptoms, within the typical kinds of tendons/muscles damage it is certainly epicondolitis (not tendonitis, not carpal tunell, not tenosynuvitis) But there's a small chance it might be cause by something else like sclerosis, disc compression, herniated disc ... but very unlikely. [/b]
I find myself being a virtual desert of medical knowledge, unless it pertains to me. So I will bow to your expertise.

I do however have an unending supply of one-liners.

"All Indians walk in single file. At least the one I saw did."
[/b]

Well it's certainly not just a matter of anecdotal personal evidence. When I suffered from it I researched it extensively in order to find out what it was, why it occurred and how to speed up the healing process. Believe it or not, even my physician admitted I knew more than her, and in fact her diagnosis and advices had been very superficial which is why I chose to contact an expert. Even the expert (an orthopedist) didn't seem to know much and actually provided standard information to every patient. I found more luck in consulting an ortho-physiatrist specialized in repetitive strain injury and hands anatomy, from the same clinic where my mother had her carpal tunnel operation.

Maybe "certainly" it's a strong word, but I'm pretty sure that a specialist, rather than a physician, will confirm what I have said. It's certainly not tendonitis nor tenosynuvitis.

Maybe I just needed to say "probably" instead of "certainly" in order to avoid this reproach, but that's being very finicky, expecially in the context of a forum. :p

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#1101802 - 11/11/08 03:04 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I'm experimenting with some 18th century technique (playing on fingertips which are kept in a straight line). My elbows are not happy. Interesting but irritating.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1101803 - 02/24/09 09:05 AM Re: Odd pain in elbow
Hfffoman Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/24/09
Posts: 12
Loc: Kent, England
I am alarmed to read the posts on here and see that I probably have epicondylitis. Here are some details of my case and I would be delighted to hear any comments.

I started getting slight twinges in my elbow 3 months ago. At the time I was doing about four hard 90 minute practising sessions each weekend. I was also doing some resistance work in the gym. At first I thought the problem was caused by the gym as I felt a slight twinge while doing triceps exercises.

For a couple of months the problem didn’t get better or worse. At times it seemed to be better after the weekend (when I’d had a break from the gym) and at times it seemed to be better after the working week (when I’d had a break from the piano).

For the past month I have stopped playing the piano totally and stopped the exercises. It hasn’t showed any improvement. In fact it is slightly worse. It’s not painful but I get twinges when doing lots of simple things like tying up shoe laces and brushing my teeth.

The problem seems to be in the upward motion of the wrist or fingers, not the downwards one. I feel a stiffness if I lift my hand against strong resistance.

If I press on my elbow in exactly the right spot there is a pain. It’s hard to find the spot but it appears to be exactly where my hand tendons join the humerus.

I saw a doctor today and was advised to take NSAIDS and get some sports massage.
The doctor thought it was a different problem from tennis elbow (as the symptoms are irregular) and didn’t recommend a steroid injection. The only time I have had a problem with piano playing before was tendinitis in the wrist, which was brilliantly cured by a single steroid jab and never returned.

Do you folks think a steroid injection would help? When you talk about a wrist brace, is that specifically to defuse stress while playing the piano or is it for permanent wearing?

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#1101804 - 02/24/09 12:04 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
I like it that people have shared their experience and the treatments that have helped them; I've had some similar experiences and it sounds to me like the advice is sound. But no one here is able, or really has any business, prescribing steroid injections or diagnosing your problem sight-unseen. You need to be in the care of a specialist qualified to treat injuries of this sort. It could save you a lot of time, limitation, and pain. Besides that, a piano teacher who knows how to work with players who have injuries (which is a lot of us) could be of great help.

What can I say--- welcome to old age. We have to adapt.

NSAIDs, as someone asked, are the class of drugs called NonSteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: it includes aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium and some prescription-only drugs, but not acetamenophen (Tylenol). Even though they're over-the-counter, they too have their hazards. Your doc can help you get the most of of them.
_________________________
Clef


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#1101805 - 02/24/09 12:45 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
The muscles in the arm that bring the back of your hand towards you (extension) are about 10% of the strength of those that pull your hand under (flexor). Flexing the fingers to an extreme causes the hand extensors to work harder (never mind why). Hfffoman, does your hand lie on the keys relaxed? I bet it doesn't, my guess is you shape it. And welcome to PW.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1101806 - 02/24/09 01:02 PM Re: Odd pain in elbow
tjbsb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 256
Loc: Houston, TX
Be very, very careful with this! This is how tendinitis starts. Once it gets bad, the tendon can be damaged and will never heal. Put ice on it and rest for several days.

In my case and possibly in yours, it can be caused by overly-tight muscles in your forearm (the ones that work your fingers). They end up pulling on the tendon and over time cause inflammation and damage. The little twinges you feel come from the tight muscle pulling on the inflamed tendon.

If the problem continues, go see a sports medicine doctor. Treatment usually involves physical therapy to ease the tightness and build up supporting muscles. If you get it taken care of soon and remain careful, it will not plague you for the rest of your life.

In my case, the pain is very rare now and I can play piano as much as I like. Unfortunately, I have been unable to return to the guitar and may never be able to do so thanks to this problem.

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