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Hand numbness #568852
07/01/07 02:10 PM
07/01/07 02:10 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 278
New York
jwjazz Offline OP
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jwjazz  Offline OP
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half of my left hand is numb and tingly. 4th and 5th fingers and palm side below those fingers. I am noticing a pain in my left elbow as well as wrist discomfort just on that side of the hand. And some muscle fatigue in the forearm. I suspect it is a pinched nerve in the elbow, sometimes I put my elbows up on a bar or desk, and I think that caused it initially about 2-3 months ago, when I first noticed it. at that time it went away, but just came back yesterday and has been a steady numbness and tingling thru today.
I had to cancel a gig and am thinking about subbing out next week also.

Does anyone have experience with this?
Please, if you really don't know, don't tell me what is wrong and make me over-anxious.


working on:
Goldberg Variations
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Re: Hand numbness #568853
07/01/07 02:28 PM
07/01/07 02:28 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 531
CherryCoke Offline
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See a doctor, preferably one with experience treating musicians. From what I've read, it doesn't sound like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (which apparently makes the first 3 fingers numb, not the last 2 as you are experiencing). But I am no doctor. Seek medical attention.

Re: Hand numbness #568854
07/01/07 02:53 PM
07/01/07 02:53 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 10,856
London, UK (though if it's Aug...
keyboardklutz Offline
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These are the only group I know in the US. Contact them, I'm sure they can find you a local clinic.
http://www.dystonia-foundation.org


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

Re: Hand numbness #568855
07/01/07 05:55 PM
07/01/07 05:55 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 278
New York
jwjazz Offline OP
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Thank-you klutz, but I do not have dystonia. Did you even read what it is? Did you even read my description of the problem I am having?
Are you joking? Why would you joke about that?


working on:
Goldberg Variations
Re: Hand numbness #568856
07/02/07 01:22 AM
07/02/07 01:22 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 10,856
London, UK (though if it's Aug...
keyboardklutz Offline
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JW, firstly, no one knows what dystonia is and secondly, any doctor who works with dystonia and musicians will have far more knowledge of your condition than a non-performing arts practitioner. As I said these wee the only group I knew of in the US. My advice is really no different than SPS's.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

Re: Hand numbness #568857
07/02/07 03:04 AM
07/02/07 03:04 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 278
New York
jwjazz Offline OP
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From the dystonia website, a definition:
>
Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes the muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily . The neurological mechanism that makes muscles relax when they are not in use does not function properly. Opposing muscles often contract simultaneously as if they are “competing” for control of a body part. The involuntary muscle contractions force the body into repetitive and often twisting movements as well as awkward, irregular postures. There are approximately 13 forms of dystonia, and dozens of diseases and conditions include dystonia as a major symptom.

Although there are multiple forms of dystonia and the symptoms of these forms may outwardly appear quite different, the element that all forms share is the repetitive, patterned, and often twisting involuntary muscle contractions .
>

(bold added by me)

Thanks keyboardklutz for the link, but this in now way describes the problem I am having.

I am going to an accupressure specialist tomorrow.


working on:
Goldberg Variations
Re: Hand numbness #568858
07/02/07 03:25 AM
07/02/07 03:25 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 10,856
London, UK (though if it's Aug...
keyboardklutz Offline
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jw, I'm not suggesting for a moment that's what you've got. I think your post from the dystonia website is useful but it does describe full blown dystonia (which is actually the way a muscle group behaves rather than a disease).

All performing artists should be aware of the condition and, more importantly, the early symptoms before things get anywhere near the full blown stage. It starts with such innocuous little things (a tiny tick, twitch, insensitivity) and is rarely diagnosed in time to prevent major professional trauma. It can strike 25 years into a successful career. Leon Fleisher and Gary Graffman were famously floored by it.

In my opinion many hardworking pianists are very much on the edge of it. The relationship between their flexors and extensors is so finely balanced.

May I ask you and whoever else reads this, a question? Had you heard of dystonia before?


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

Re: Hand numbness #568859
07/02/07 03:49 AM
07/02/07 03:49 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 278
New York
jwjazz Offline OP
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New York
yes I had heard of dystonia, I think from another thread on this forum.
Thanks for your concern.


working on:
Goldberg Variations
Re: Hand numbness #568860
07/02/07 10:02 AM
07/02/07 10:02 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 198
Alberta
Mistaya Offline
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Alberta
Hi jwjazz,
I seem to chime in whenever this topic comes up. I had problems somewhat similar to yours, including wrist, forearm and elbow pain. I had lost most of my ability to grip. I was advised that I had tendonitis (and possibly CTS) and I arranged for 6 weeks of rest from my lessons and practicing. A friend who is a massage therapist asked if she could try something. She worked a bit on my neck and shoulders using pressure deep into the muscle. I had immediate relief in a number of the muscles of my forearm. She also worked the wrist and relieved the pain there - my grip was strong again. Surprised, I went for 2 full treatments. The first was entirely on my neck, shoulder and upper arm area. The last was on my forearms. This was last Jan. and I have remained pain free since. I now regularly massage my forearms and I am paranoid about my posture.

I do not have any medical training, so please take this as only one personal experience. A riding injury and poor posture contributed to the neck/shoulder situation. The tense neck, shoulder and rotator cuff muscles were constricting nerves causing referred pain down the arm. I had not yet done any tendon damage, but this would have been inevitable if I had continued. When the muscles are tight and constricted, the tendons are under increased strain.

So - my injury prevention program includes making sure all my muscles are supple and relaxed and that I deal with tension issues immediately. I don't know if this is of help to you. I would second the opinion to see a doctor to rule out more serious possibilities. I believe physiotherapists have a technique they use to release muscles, chiropractors use Active Release therapy, and the massage therapist I saw uses Trigger Point massage (no needles.)

Best of luck sorting this out.

Re: Hand numbness #568861
07/02/07 11:21 PM
07/02/07 11:21 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,990
Haverhill, Massachusetts
J
John Citron Offline
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J

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,990
Haverhill, Massachusetts
I have parkinsonism with dystonia, and what jwjazz is describing is not dystonia. To me it sounds like a pinched nerve, tendonitis, or some other inflamation. I would definitely see a doctor about it though.

The dystonia I have occurs in my feet, and sometimes in my hands. My left foot will start to turn in at the toes, and eventually the rest of the foot will follow. This is extremely painful, and the spasms last up to 45 minutes. My right foot does this sometimes as well, but it's mostly the left that does this. My left hand will also clench into a fist to a point where I've actually cut the palm of my hand with my fingernails. I carry a pair of nail clippers to keep my nails a short as possible to help prevent the cuts. For the most part, I have little bruises in the palm of the hand where the nails would be digging in.

The good new is, I've reached a honeymoon with the medication schedule. My continual, and regularly spaced doses of Sinemet (5x per day 25/100 mg), and Amantandine (3x per day 100 mg) has helped to almost eliminate all the symptoms of the parkinsonism and the ensuing dystonic cramps.

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: Hand numbness #568862
07/03/07 03:15 AM
07/03/07 03:15 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 278
New York
jwjazz Offline OP
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jwjazz  Offline OP
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Posts: 278
New York
John,
I'm really sorry to hear about your problems.
I hope the medication continues to help.
I felt initially that I had a pinched nerve, and someone told me it was the ulnar nerve that is linked to the ring finger and pinky.
I am resting it, although I played a little bit tonight. I will probably resort to the doctor, and some acupressure. I am being very conscious of how i place my elbow, and avoid putting it on a desk or bar, as I have read that the ulnar nerve is near the surface at the elbow. That's the reason for the funnybone sensation. At least according to wikipedia and some other medical web sites.


working on:
Goldberg Variations
Re: Hand numbness #568863
07/03/07 01:20 PM
07/03/07 01:20 PM
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 3
louisiana
D
danpiano Offline
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Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 3
louisiana
Hey jwjazz, ive been reading about nerves lately and to me it does sound like the ulnar nerve. I think it runs behind the elbow all the way to the fingers. I think you can irritate it by putting pressure on your elbow. Im not sure how you treat something like this. I would talk to a doctor if it doesnt go away on its own.

Re: Hand numbness #568864
07/03/07 03:57 PM
07/03/07 03:57 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 931
Santa Fe, NM
AaronSF Offline
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AaronSF  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 931
Santa Fe, NM
I had a similar problem in my right hand, except the numbness was in the thumb and index finger, with some definite sensations verging on pain running up my right forearm. I was really worried I'd have to give up the piano, as it would become worse when I practiced.

I saw a specialist who prescribed physical therapy. The physical therapist diagnosed it as an impinged nerve. She never could determine for sure if it was the ulnar or radial nerve, as my symptoms sometimes suggested one, sometimes the other. She said the impingement could occur in several different places (back, upper chest, arm) as the nerves pass through all these regions. Treatment was aimed at opening up all these areas (to relieve impingement) and seeing what happened -- about 25 sessions altogether. I have some stretching exercises I continue to this day (and the stretching they teach you is nothing like the stretching people do at the gym or yoga -- it's very specific to the injury).

Also I got, on advice of the physical therapist, all ergonomic furniture at work (chair, keyboard holder that sits in the lap, document stand, monitor stand, etc.)

Third, I was told to wear a hand brace while sleeping that prevents the hand from bending down.

All this together brought me GREAT RELIEF.

So if my tale has a moral, it's see a doctor, follow through on physical therapy if prescribed, and do everything they tell you to do! It's a slog to go through all that, but I'm glad I did.


August Förster 215
Re: Hand numbness #568865
07/03/07 08:16 PM
07/03/07 08:16 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,990
Haverhill, Massachusetts
J
John Citron Offline
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Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,990
Haverhill, Massachusetts
Quote
Originally posted by jwjazz:
John,
I'm really sorry to hear about your problems.
I hope the medication continues to help.
I felt initially that I had a pinched nerve, and someone told me it was the ulnar nerve that is linked to the ring finger and pinky.
I am resting it, although I played a little bit tonight. I will probably resort to the doctor, and some acupressure. I am being very conscious of how i place my elbow, and avoid putting it on a desk or bar, as I have read that the ulnar nerve is near the surface at the elbow. That's the reason for the funnybone sensation. At least according to wikipedia and some other medical web sites.
Thanks for the support, jwjazz. I'm riding this wave for as long as I can.

My dad had something similiar to what you're describing and the orthopaedic surgeon told him it was Ulner Nerve Syndrome, aka Tennis Elbow. He got it from carrying a brief case every day to work.

He's retired now, but for a long time he wore a brace when he went to sleep and that helped a lot. Give in and get a professional opinion. That will determine what's going on so you don't injure yourself anymore.

Is there a possibility that you wacked your elbow and didn't think too much about it afterwards? I've done that numerous times and found unexplainable bruises on my shins, knees and elbows.

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: Hand numbness #568866
07/04/07 01:07 AM
07/04/07 01:07 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 278
New York
jwjazz Offline OP
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jwjazz  Offline OP
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Posts: 278
New York
I am seeing an orthopaedic hand specialist next week. I don't think I hit my elbow, but I definately used to put my elbow down on a desk or bar, and I am sure this is the cause.

Does the doctor give you the brace?

Also, I had two massages, which were supposed to be acupressure, but I don't beleive either were very trained and really only gave a basic type of massage. The second massage made my shoulders feel worse!

Thanks everyone for the information.


working on:
Goldberg Variations
Re: Hand numbness #568867
07/04/07 09:10 PM
07/04/07 09:10 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 430
Greater Miami
Grane Offline
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Greater Miami
jwjazz -- sorry about your condition. My wife is a professional flutist and has had hand issues for years now along with many others in the orchestra. One of her step-sons helped establish the dystonia foundation as physical issues are common amongst musicians.

Chances are the cause is overuse of your arm, which builds muscle, which then squeezes on some nerves.

Based on her experience most musicians choose one of two courses of action -- see a physician for a diagnosis and treatment, or treat the problem using alternative medical techniques like massage and acupunture.

One potential problem with physicians depends on who you see. If they are surgeons, too often they want to operate (a quick snip and you'll be fine). Surgery is only recommended for "any" condition after all other courses of action have been tried. Too often things happen in surgery that cannot be fixed. So see what your orthopaedist says and judge for yourself.

Be prepared a physician may not be able to diagnose your problem. My wife has found the massage and acupuncture (with pillows at night) have worked wonders but are not a cure. They might get you functional.

Good luck and let us know how you make out. Oh, suppose you have stopped playing for a while and that didn't help.


2005 Steinway B
Re: Hand numbness [Re: jwjazz] #2786257
11/29/18 11:49 PM
11/29/18 11:49 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 31
B
Brian Sweeney Offline
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I know EXACTLY what you have because I have it. You have compression of the ulnar nerve in your elbow. Mine started a few months ago when I bought a new piano and got heavily into practicing. Also, my girlfriend had the exact same symptoms as you and I do as a result of resting her elbow on a desk all day. She went to the doctor who told her to stop doing it and the numbness went away so try that first.

I’ve done an awful lot of research on this and have spoken to four doctors and went to see a orthopedic surgeon and a neurologist who prescribed prednisone and pt. The pt told me not to come back until I stopped playing the piano and told me that nerves regenerate one millimeter per day and that the distance from my hands to my elbow is two hundred millimeters so I should stop for about that much time. My sister, a veterinarian who specializes in neurology told me the exact same thing.

I also discovered The Golandsky Institute who have teachers who specialize in retraining injured pianists. Check them out if your symptoms persist. The teacher in NY is John Bloomfield, he’s world renowned. Good luck and if you need anything else just let me know. Brian

Re: Hand numbness [Re: Brian Sweeney] #2786261
11/30/18 12:02 AM
11/30/18 12:02 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 311
UK, EU
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precise Offline
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Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney
I know EXACTLY what you have because I have it.
You posted about it in the piano Forum FAQ some weeks ago... yours was from extreme and heavy over-use at the piano, if I recall. The OP may not have exactly what you have - although they may smile
Also, despite what doctors say re ulnar nerve issues, they rarely know how to deal with musicians. I still, as I suggested in your other post, think there are exercises (stretches and the like) that could help immensely. Plus, there are some actual exercises to do whilst playing that can soothe the issue.




Re: Hand numbness [Re: jwjazz] #2786305
11/30/18 04:58 AM
11/30/18 04:58 AM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 739
South Wales
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Colin Miles Offline
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South Wales
This is weird. Yesterday evening the top joint of my right hand index finger suddenly started to feel 'bruised'. So I concentrated on my left hand. Still there this morning until I started to read this thread! Disappeared almost completely. Well, like others I think it is to do with the arm and shoulders as I have been moving those about and I am very well aware of nerve issues. But still weird,

Last edited by Colin Miles; 11/30/18 04:59 AM. Reason: corrections

Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: Hand numbness [Re: jwjazz] #2786397
11/30/18 11:15 AM
11/30/18 11:15 AM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,878
Philadelphia, PA
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jdw Offline
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I doubt the OP is still following after 11 years!


1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:​
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
Sinding, Frühlingsrauschen (Rustle of Spring)
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