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Just started having pain around the base of my left thumb on Wednesday. I suspect it's from spending too much time on a new piece, and particularly the LH part because it's challenging for me. It never even occurred to me that I could injure myself.

I've never had an RSI so I don't know what to expect as far as recovery time. It has not changed since Wednesday. The pain is mild...no visible swelling and it doesn't extend into my arm. It's uncomfortable to grip/carry/pick up anything, or put weight on my hand (like during workouts). I'm not sure if this is a situation where a brace/splint might be helpful. I might visit a PT later this week.

I'll be going over my technique for this piece at my lesson Thursday to see if I was doing anything wrong. I'd been focusing on keeping my hand and wrist relaxed...I suspect I was just at it too for long, but maybe I was bending my thumb under too much as well.

I messaged my teacher to ask for advice and she didn't seem overly concerned about this. Seems odd. She just said she's had problems crop up periodically over the years and it might take a couple weeks to calm down. Maybe I'm overreacting because I haven't been injured before, but I'm pretty worried. I don't want this to be something that keeps coming back from now on...especially since it affects my daily life, not just piano.

Can anyone who has had a similar issue comment on how your recovery went?

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Depend on your age . If you're young , simply ignore it , no pain no gain . If you're old, then better take care of it , maybe it is linked to some underlying health issue ,better see a PT


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Rest Ice Compression Elevation
Take anti inflammatory meds as your doc recommends or as you like.

How old are you? Feeling better at 60 is a different game than feeling better at 20.
Fortunately, what I will put up with at 60 is much more than I would have put up with at 20!


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I'm 43. Whether or not that's "old" depends on your perspective I suppose!

I thought ice was usually only helpful within the first day or two. Is that incorrect?

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I am not familiar with the injury/pain you are feeling but I am now icing and elevating my stiff finger with a swollen joint that was in a splint for about 12 weeks. If I were experiencing pain in my hand, I would stop playing piano and any other activities that cause pain and see a hand specialist Asap. Just because there is no swelling does not mean there has not been an injury. Take care of your hand first, then get help with your piano technique to see if that caused the problem.



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Originally Posted by selfishplayer
Depend on your age . If you're young , simply ignore it , no pain no gain . If you're old, then better take care of it , maybe it is linked to some underlying health issue ,better see a PT

Please do some research. Pain as a result of playing the piano is always a problem sign, Irrespective of your age


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Another question - Is the pain constant or only when you are doing certain activities. If constant see a Dr. If activity-related, stop those activities including the scheduled piano lesson and see if the pain goes away. Guess we need a little more info.



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Hand specialist...eek. I would have thought that was only for surgery. I can't imagine I'm headed that direction.

The pain is not constant, only when I make certain motions (putting weight on my hand is the worst, like when attempting a push-up). I just did the 'Finkelstein test' and that is where my pain is...so it fits with the description of De Quervain's tendinosis. This is all new to me...I've never had a tendon injury before.

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I would stop doing anything that causes the pain and see if it goes away- guess I already said that. If it goes away and then comes back when you resume those activities, see a hand specialist, which are not all docs. I saw a Physician’s Assistant and Occupational Therapist. Don’t try to self-diagnose either. Good luck and keep us posted. We pianists need fully functioning hands and fingers.



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Originally Posted by PianogrlNW
Don’t try to self-diagnose either.

What? But I am an expert at Googling symptoms...and for once it's not a cancer diagnosis! smile My PT's office is currently offering a free 15-min virtual assessment. They've helped me with a lot of random problems in the past. I'll talk to them soon. Thanks!

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Pain as a result of playing the piano is always a problem sign, Irrespective of your age

Yes, never ignore pain. "No pain no gain" is only valid metaphorically, in the sense of having to make effort, do not ignore actual physical pain.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
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I blew My knee out playing the piano

Required reconstructive Surgery

Just Kidding - Hope You feel better JB!


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Pain and playing should not go together.

You have pain you stop what you are doing and try to fix it before you play with pain again.


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

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Originally Posted by JB_PW
Hand specialist...eek. I would have thought that was only for surgery. I can't imagine I'm headed that direction.

The pain is not constant, only when I make certain motions (putting weight on my hand is the worst, like when attempting a push-up). I just did the 'Finkelstein test' and that is where my pain is...so it fits with the description of De Quervain's tendinosis. This is all new to me...I've never had a tendon injury before.

This sounds very similar to what I have, which is a Ganglion Cyst on the back of my wrist. This is where a small pocket within the joint fills up with fluid and interferes with your wrist movement generally, however mine also affects my left thumb and the specialist has said it is almost certainly related to having the ganglion. Usually they go away by themselves but mine has been persistent and I'm having it aspirated next month. I've been unable to put any weight on my hand all year because of it and it obviously affects playing as well.

If you bend your wrist down do you have a lump on the back top of your hand near your wrist? Sometimes they are quite large and squishy, but this time mine is smaller but firmer. Check one hand to the other and look for differences between them. Hope this helps.

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You can get an injury simply by playing too much and or too soon. Even if your technique is good and you are relaxed, you are still exercising a physical stress on your arms and hands. If you go beyond what your body can accept, it will react with pain. The threshold depends on your level of training and physical stamina. A long time ago, i had a similar symptom, pain at the base of my thumb with a difficulty to grip things. That was the result of practising thirds fast and for too long (i think something like 1 full hour) every day. I put some ice, took some meds and cut down the heavy staff by a lot. The issue went away in a week and never came back.

I do a lot of physical activity and pain is a natural result of heavy practising, so i get used to know when something is really serious or it is just a natural temporary reaction of the body. I adjust my practice accordingly and cut more or less. If you dont know how to read your body signals, best is to consult a specialist. in any case you should cut down significantly whatever it is that you were practising until you know what is the issue.


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I used to use my left thumb, bent back (It does this easily) as a mini hammer for many DIY jobs. Nobody told me it was harmful (nobody saw me being stupid enough to do it) but I was young!
Well, mid sixties actually before things started to go belly-up.

So I have thumb pain playing heavy music with the left hand, often. On the digital I use.
I'm obviously stuck with it now in my 70s, and other fingers are joining the queue. Piano playing helps in many ways with this, like exercise does generally with the rest of me, so beware about giving up on it completely.

But at the moment I'm left wondering if an acoustic piano might be more amenable instead of a digital. I've heard such, but never the other way round.

And when I use Pianoteq, a virtual acoustic usurper, things are far easier even with the keyboard I use.

If you've done a lot of manual work, these things can happen at an earlier age. Not fair, is it? Best wishes; d'ya play a digital, perchance?


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Originally Posted by Lucubrate
I blew My knee out playing the piano

Required reconstructive Surgery

Just Kidding - Hope You feel better JB!


~Lucubrate

These are the glorious days of reconstructive surgery! Pity you'd most likely have visit the vet to achieve it . . .


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I occasionally get pains of one sort or another in my hands, but I can almost always trace them back to doing something stupid stressful like carrying heavy weights improperly or the like. That it wasn't caused by playing piano doesn't mean it doesn't affect playing the piano. The cure is to stop doing any activity that brings on pain.

JB, can you think of anything other than piano that would have put stress on that part of your hand? Even if it's something you've done for a long time without consequence (push-ups?), maybe this time something wasn't quite right. Or maybe it was caused by piano. Either way, both activities have to pay the price.


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Thanks for all the input.

My husband currently has a ganglion cyst on his wrist, so I'm familiar with that. I have a very small, hard lump between my watch band and my thumb. I don't have that on the right hand. Might be related, dunno...doesn't seem anything like the cyst though.

I play an acoustic.

I do regularly put weight on my hands during workouts (nixed that last week of course). I've never felt any discomfort in this area before. This is the first time I've ever felt any kind of pain when playing piano.

I've been doing stretching exercises for a few months to increase my reach. Very carefully...no more than 5 min a day. Never felt a hint of pain in my thumb area. Mainly I'm feeling the pain now when bending my thumb under, so I'm not sure if stretching my hand open contributes to this or not.

It's certainly possible there's something not quite right in my technique...I'm only intermediate and I see my teacher every other week. I end up figuring a lot of stuff out on my own. But I would guess my main issue is practicing too much. Piano is the only activity I currently have left...everything else has been cancelled indefinitely. I've almost doubled my practice time in the last few months. I guess I just assumed there would be some warning signs before an injury occurred. Maybe I'll get lucky and it will feel better in a week or two.

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Joining the left thumb injury club, too.

I have a fairly good technique on piano and don't carry too much tension.

But apparently I was really tensing up while I was machine sewing a large bunch of face masks and injured my left thumb while I was picking out a bunch of stitches. It's the same motion that I guess crossing under does, because as soon as I do that, searing pain.

I'm really mad because a) I did not need to injure myself on face masks, of all things, and b) I start work in two weeks and will be playing several hours a day again. It hurts so bad I am worried I can't start.

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