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Osteoarthritis of the hand notes (Read 2639 times)

Offline georgey

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Osteoarthritis of the hand notes
« on: July 19, 2016, 04:45:20 PM »
8% of people over age 50 have osteoarthritis of the hands.  I was recently diagnosed at age 57.  So far it has not affected my playing.  I do 30 minutes of PT every day for this. The exercises really do help. I just finished taking 8 weeks off from piano and plan on posting my first piece in a couple weeks.  IN CASE there is anyone out there with this condition or has an interest, here are a few notes.  No need for comment.

The disease can be seen as bony bumps (can be pretty large and ugly) on the joints closest to the fingernail (Heberden’s nodes) and the middle joints of the fingers (Bouchard’s nodes).

A study has shown that a group who was average age 59 with the disease had the following changes 10 years later:  50% got worse, 45% stayed the same and 5% got better.  I hope to be in the 5% or 45% category with the PT I am doing.

PT Exercises:
Exercises in the book “Treat your own HAND AND THUMB Osteoarthritis” by Johnson

Away from keyboard exercises that kawai_cs recommended:


Play with therapeutic clay for hands (I use X-soft and soft).

Offline pjjslp

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Re: Osteoarthritis of the hand notes
«Reply #1 on: July 23, 2016, 10:32:37 PM »
Good information, thanks for posting! I am showing signs of arthritis in my hands at only age 44, so I think it's time to get to the doctor and figure out what type it is. Your statistics and reported success with therapy and exercises have helped to spur me on to do this sooner rather than later, so thank you!

Offline georgey

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Re: Osteoarthritis of the hand notes
«Reply #2 on: August 21, 2016, 08:35:28 PM »
I continue to do 30 minutes of physical therapy every day and this is helping a lot I believe.

For inspiration:
Chopin Ocean Etude Op. 25 No. 12: Machiko plays classical piano despite severe Osteoarthritis





Offline georgey

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Re: Osteoarthritis of the hand notes
«Reply #3 on: August 30, 2016, 05:10:59 AM »
I’ll limit myself to at most 1 post every 3 months here starting now and no editing once it is posted.  Just notes to myself.

Good news – crosshands section of Beethoven op 79 sonata 1st mvt played without crossing hands (LEFT hand plays all off beat eighth notes) sounds great and feels great in the hands and is the best sounding parts of my playing.  I would play it this way even if I didn’t have osteoarthritis of the hands.  Bad news – right hand index finger is getting worse playing this piece in the other sections.  I don’t want my hands to look like guitarist Keith Richards ;).  What would a doctor say?  Answer:  If you feel pain, you may be doing damage.  Modify how you practice and take many breaks.

Should I A) Give up the piano?  B) Play only slow pieces (example Brahms piano sonata # 3 (op 5) second movement)?  C)  Keep trying with the Beethoven and risk ruining my finger(s)?  Not sure yet.  OptionA is not an option at this time.

Notes:  I wish the Avantgrand N1 had a lighter action in the higher register.  I am having some luck with taping my fingers and/or using cloth finger support sleeves.  It helps if I totally relax and play softer.  Touch and press technique really helps.  One way to totally relax is to play slow (example for Op 79 of Beethoven: quarter note at 120 or 160BPM instead of 240 BPM that I want to play).  Maybe I can try to play this piece imagining how Glenn Gould would play it if he chose to play this at 160BPM.  


I tried playing the entire Brahms just now and it felt fine. Maybe I will move on to Brahms.  Who needs to play fast pieces for enjoyment anyway?

http://www.ronankavanagh.ie/musicians-health/learning-from-keith-richards-fingers-why-musicians-get-sore/


Offline dcstudio

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Re: Osteoarthritis of the hand notes
«Reply #4 on: August 30, 2016, 05:44:41 PM »
I suffer from this too along with carpal tunnel. So far I can play through it but I feel it sometimes. It's strange how my fingers seem to do what I ask in spite of all the issues. I had posture problems for years that caused some damage as well.

In the immortal words of MIck Jagger:

"What a drag it is getting old"

Lol