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#1626901 - 02/23/11 05:43 PM Ganglion cysts from playing piano?
dlr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/10
Posts: 139
Loc: Michigan
I've developed a couple of ganglions, and believe it may be from the hours I'm practicing.

The first one is pea size, on the outside of my right thumb - on the joint. The second is larger, and at the base of my right thumb, in the curve before it goes back up to the index finger. They're both painful. I saw my doctor after developing the first, and he recommended surgery. I'd rather not go that route, because my sister had surgery for a ganglion (wrist), and it returned a few years later.

I looked at several sites this morning, searching for alternative treatments. Several sites mentioned ganglions resulting from hours of playing the piano. Also violin and cymbals. The treatment I found as an alternative, is aspiration. However, this isn't as successful as surgery, with a higher incidence of recurrence.

I practice 2 hours daily, and the other day practiced for 4 hours. The second ganglion appeared the next morning. I spend about 30 minutes on Hanon and scales. One of my pieces has a lot of octaves and large 4 note chords.

I'd really prefer to avoid surgery, and can live with the ugliness (they look pretty bad) and the pain, if it doesn't get worse.

Anyone else have experience with this? Suggestions?

Thanks!
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Denise

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#1626907 - 02/23/11 05:50 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I've had them and I got rid of them by simply pressing on them hard. A cyst is when there is a clog and fluid can't drain; by pressing on the cyst you provide enough pressure to break through the clog and the cyst then drains naturally on it's own through the opening you've created.

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#1626930 - 02/23/11 06:36 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
dlr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/10
Posts: 139
Loc: Michigan
Yikes! I've also heard of smashing them with a book. Either way sounds painful, but then they're painful to begin with. Do you just press on them with your opposite thumb, or with an object?
_________________________
Denise

Take my hand, let me stand where no one stands alone

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#1626949 - 02/23/11 07:10 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4381
Loc: Jersey Shore
I believe Gyro only beats his cysts with digital pianos... smile

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#1626972 - 02/23/11 07:49 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
MusicalBebe85 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/11
Posts: 28
Loc: Canada
You are NOT supposed to practice Hanon exercises that long! It can lead to injury, especially if you're not doing them properly.

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#1626980 - 02/23/11 07:56 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
dlr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/10
Posts: 139
Loc: Michigan
I didn't say specifically how long I spend on Hanon. I spend 30 minutes on both Hanon and scales. Most of it is on scales/arpeggios. I definitely don't spend 30 minutes on Hanon. And according to my teacher, I am doing them correctly. I'm one of her few students who is not a piano major. I believe she knows her stuff.

Thanks for your concern smile
_________________________
Denise

Take my hand, let me stand where no one stands alone

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#1626982 - 02/23/11 07:57 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
Strings & Wood Offline


Gold member until Dec. 2012


Registered: 05/22/08
Posts: 1840
Loc: USA
I had one in my wrist (top side) when I was a teenager. Had the surgery to remove it and it hasn't return yet... I don't think it will either since that was about 40 years ago.
However, it did take a long time for my wrist to heal to the point of full movement again.

BTW... I don't think squeezing it will do anything for a ganglion cyst but hurt.
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#1626997 - 02/23/11 08:38 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
slacker Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 17
any pictures?
I think they used to bang the Bible on it in the ole days.

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#1627024 - 02/23/11 09:27 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3515
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Please do not bang on it with a book, or press it with your hand!! It's good that you saw a doctor, but perhaps you might see if you could talk to a specialist, someone who works with musiciasns.

My brother, a guitarist and guitar teacher, has one. I don't remember the details, but he consulted and the conclusion was to just leave it. That was probably 20 years ago, and he still plays and teaches.

He also works out and lifts weights. Which he started doing at some point after the cyst developed. I know he is very careful to take good care of his whole body, because the rest of the body makes it possible to use the arms and fingers. So I mention this because I wonder if not getting enough exercise, not stretching, might make it easier to develop.

I used to practice much more than I do now (when I wasn't a grad student!) and I never developed a cyst. I also do stretching after practicing and take breaks during longer practice sessions. When I used to practice 2plus hours weekdays and more on the weekends, I often ran cold water over my hands after practicing as well.

It seems to me that aspiration might be worth a try, especially since it's the least invasive. Surgery is too risky, imagine the negative consequences of an unsuccessful attempt.

In any case, if you have pain, you need to go back to a doctor. Also consider some piano instruction that addresses tension and body positioning... If no one here can tell you about Feldenkris (that is definitely not the right spelling!) I bet someone can at the Pianist's Corner.

Good luck!!
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
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#1627088 - 02/23/11 11:30 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: ShiroKuro]
dlr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/10
Posts: 139
Loc: Michigan
Thanks ShiroKuro! I'm definitely NOT going to bang it with a book. It makes me a little nauseous just to think about it!

Do you mean stretching the hands, or the whole body? Stretching my hands seems like it may be helpful. I went from not playing at all, to playing 2 hours a day, overnight. One of the pieces I'm playing is much more strenuous than anything I've ever played. A lot of octave 4-note chords. My hands aren't used to that. I'll look into stretches for my hands before I play.
Is the cold water after playing to stop inflammation? That would make sense. My teacher told me to be aware of any pain, and stop what I'm doing if it hurts, to prevent inflammation. The funny thing is, it doesn't hurt while I'm playing. My hands just feel really tired after I practice. I figured I just needed to build stamina. The only pain I have is the actual site of the ganglions, especially if I bump them on anything.
And ~ tonight I have another one! I felt some pain in another area on my right thumb - same joint as the first ganglion, opposite side of the joint (first one is on outside of thumb joint, this one is inside of thumb joint). The lump is painful and very visible.
Yes, it's obvious now that I do need to get back to my doctor. I don't want surgery on my hands, and will discuss aspiration. I need to find a way to stop these from happening, rather than have them continue to occur and then seek treatment. To have three pop up all of a sudden has been unnerving, to say the least.
I'll also try to look into the instruction you suggested (Feldenkrais ~ I just looked it up).
Thanks again!

(edited to correct spelling of Feldenkrais)


Edited by dlr (02/23/11 11:40 PM)
_________________________
Denise

Take my hand, let me stand where no one stands alone

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#1627089 - 02/23/11 11:33 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
KHen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 183
Loc: North America
I'm actually getting surgery to remove some thing like this. I saw an orthopedist in Seattle and he said I have Synovitis ( inflammation in the synovial membrane) AND a ganglion cyst. It's on my left hand and is a result of some adhesion from scar tissue from the thumb tendon laceration repair that took place in 2008 from a fractured wrist.

When I use my hands like at work or piano or even doing the dishes my hand has the tendency to swell up like I'm wearing a boxing glove and it's VERY painful and limits mobility so much so that I cant touch my pinky to middle finger. But yeah it was good that you saw a specialist who handles ganglions and I hope you don't have to go the route of surgery like I do.

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#1627162 - 02/24/11 03:07 AM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 982
Loc: Oregon
I was schedule for surgery to remove one from the dorsal part of my right wrist maybe around 40 years ago. Within a week prior to the surgery date, it just disappeared on its own/got resorbed, which was a huge relief for me! I never had another one since.

I'm actually reading a book about hand injuries & conditions, for my continuing education credits, and there is a case study about a ganglion cyst. Perhaps I can provide some info from this medical book tomorrow when I more awake..............getting very sleepy new................
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"Cats make purrfect friends"

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#1627183 - 02/24/11 05:56 AM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Dunno. I know two people who have had ganglion cysts and neither one had ever touched a piano. I've practice 3-6 hours a day for years and never had a hint of one. (Knock on wood! frown )
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Slow down and do it right.

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#1627220 - 02/24/11 08:06 AM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
Cobra1365 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/10
Posts: 283
Loc: Delaware
I had one years ago...went through about two years of various treatments. Ended up at Walter Reed Army Hosp and this huge Army Colonel with a Ranger tab came in and looked at it. He said "Yep, back in the day it was called a Bible Cyst. Becasue they would use the biggest book in the house, usually the bible, and smack it". He was looking at it gently probing it and all of a sudden used nboth thumbs and squeezed realy heal HARD!. Caused me to throw my head back and hit the wall behind me! The young Lieutenant that was observing said "Sir, I think you hurt him"..."Nonsense" the Colonel replied...as a tear rolled down my cheek. The cyst stayed and a year later, while stationed in Japan, I had an Air Force surgeon remove it. The 10 minute surgery took 1 hour and 45 mins! The roots of the cyst had gone through the carpal tunnel and wrapped around the tendons.

Bottom line, aspirating does not always work and a specialist needs to evaluate them to see if there is collateral injury taking place. Depending on the extent, leaving them in place is not always the answer either.

Good luck!
_________________________
Started Playing May 2010 at 51 yrs old, Some Self Learning, Lessons X 3yrs

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#1627304 - 02/24/11 10:24 AM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
achat Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/10
Posts: 536
Loc: Rome, Italy
I am not a medical doctor but first I would stop playing the piano for about a week or two, and maybe use an antinflammatory cream, and wait to see if there is any improvement.

Then I will re-evaluate with the doctor what to do, and if to come back to play, less hours per day.

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#1627362 - 02/24/11 11:52 AM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
dlr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/10
Posts: 139
Loc: Michigan
Many people get them without ever having played the piano, or any other instrument. Many pianists never get them. But for those who do some type of repetitive action, there's the possibility that the action (especially if it's a sudden, drastic increase in time spent) can contribute to the development of the cysts. At least that's what some of the sites I looked at said.

In my case, I went from not having played for a long time, to practicing 2 hours a day. Hard practice. Probably too much, too soon.

Today I had a shorter practice (1.5 hours), and played lightly. I'll talk to my teacher tomorrow at my lesson. With her years of experience and having taught hundreds of students, I'm hoping she has some insight. I'll also see my doctor again. Still hoping to avoid surgery. Since two have developed just this week, obviously I'm also concerned about more appearing.

Cobra, what was your recovery like? Since the cyst had gone through the carpal tunnel and wrapped around the tendons, it sounds like it was on your wrist, right?

Anyhow, interesting topic. For now, I'll see my doctor, talk to my teacher, and have shorter/lighter practices. I'm hoping that no more of these develop. I'm looking into the Feldenkrais. I think I'll also run cold water over my hands after practicing to reduce any inflammation. All of your suggestions are really appreciated. Thanks!
_________________________
Denise

Take my hand, let me stand where no one stands alone

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#1627436 - 02/24/11 01:42 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
Cobra1365 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/10
Posts: 283
Loc: Delaware
Originally Posted By: dlr
Cobra, what was your recovery like? Since the cyst had gone through the carpal tunnel and wrapped around the tendons, it sounds like it was on your wrist, right?


My recovery was really not that bad! I had the arm in a sling for about a week and during that time, yes there was a pretty bad ache. After that, a few PT sessions and I was on my way. Obviously, not doing cart wheels and hand stands. But, today, I have a 2 inch scar on the top of my wrist and full utility. When the cyst was in place, the tentacles were starting to limit the use of my two middle fingers since they were wrapped around the tendons. To the point I was dropping things.
_________________________
Started Playing May 2010 at 51 yrs old, Some Self Learning, Lessons X 3yrs

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#1627459 - 02/24/11 02:29 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
achat Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/10
Posts: 536
Loc: Rome, Italy
In my experience, the more those appear "quickly" and "recently" the more is likely they could re-absorb (almost completely) or reduce and don't give pain anymore in the future if the "stressing" cause is suspended and a decent period of rest (and medication) is given to the part.

I had both wrists in terrible pain and developing cyst about 5 years ago due to too much intense use of a laptop. I suffered for about one month, I even add to imobilize them for a week or two, I couldn't do anything. Then the pain and the cyst resolved and I never had that pain anymore. And I use laptops and pc all over the day, and when I don't type I play the piano smile

Lower back pain is another example of the same kind. I have been impossible to walk and to stand up for weeks once a time, I cured it seriously and it resolved.

Unfortunately the more we leave the "young adult" category (I am 42) the more our body may be hurted by some activity.

My philosophy is this: when our body tells us to stop we must stop.

That some people have cyst without playing or typing does not tell us really much. Some people have lung cancer without smoking, it does not mean smoking does not induce lung cancer..

A.


Originally Posted By: dlr
Many people get them without ever having played the piano, or any other instrument. Many pianists never get them. But for those who do some type of repetitive action, there's the possibility that the action (especially if it's a sudden, drastic increase in time spent) can contribute to the development of the cysts. At least that's what some of the sites I looked at said.

In my case, I went from not having played for a long time, to practicing 2 hours a day. Hard practice. Probably too much, too soon.

Today I had a shorter practice (1.5 hours), and played lightly. I'll talk to my teacher tomorrow at my lesson. With her years of experience and having taught hundreds of students, I'm hoping she has some insight. I'll also see my doctor again. Still hoping to avoid surgery. Since two have developed just this week, obviously I'm also concerned about more appearing.

Cobra, what was your recovery like? Since the cyst had gone through the carpal tunnel and wrapped around the tendons, it sounds like it was on your wrist, right?

Anyhow, interesting topic. For now, I'll see my doctor, talk to my teacher, and have shorter/lighter practices. I'm hoping that no more of these develop. I'm looking into the Feldenkrais. I think I'll also run cold water over my hands after practicing to reduce any inflammation. All of your suggestions are really appreciated. Thanks!



Edited by ashat (02/24/11 02:31 PM)

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#1627484 - 02/24/11 03:22 PM Re: Ganglion cysts from playing piano? [Re: dlr]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
dlr, you press them with the finger or thumb of the opposing hand--or you could exert pressure by any other means. Of course this is going to hurt some because the cyst is oversized, and as a result is pressing on nerves. This is going to take some experimentation, to see how much pain you can endure for the highest pressure you can exert. And it's going to take some time before you see an effect; the cyst grew gradually and so it's not going to disappear instantaneously. But the idea is to keep pressing it as much as possible. Such a cyst is a result of a blockage developing somewhere which prevents fluid from draining naturally. You need to break through that blockage, and the simplest way to do this is by creating enough pressure so that the blockage is busted. And this might be gradual; the cyst is filled with all kinds of stuff and so it might drain rather slowly; but it will drain naturally if you keep the pressure on.


Edited by Gyro (02/24/11 03:23 PM)

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