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Oh the tragic irony of it all

Posted By: BillTheSlink

Oh the tragic irony of it all - 01/01/13 02:48 AM

I've had one lesson and my piano is due here on January 2. I have known for some time I've had numbness and tingling on my left pinky and ring finger. The last two days however, has seen a significant worsening of my condition. The doctor ordered a bent elbow test where they stick pins in your arm and record electromagnetic noise from the nerve and I have ulnar tunnel syndrome, but they think it's not just from pressure on the elbow but also in the wrist like carpal tunnel syndrome. I will have to have further tests but either way I'm either looking at surgery and rehab, or at the very least rehab and rest. No piano playing for me for quite a while. I've even had to give up typing. I'm using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. One way or the other that typing is what's done it as I used very poor form. I have a laptop that sits above a high desk that I reach up to type at and I rest my elbows and hunt and peck. I have really done some damage. I just pray it's not irreparable harm and I will be able to play again soon. How cruel fate can be. I wanted my keyboard so bad and wanted to play so bad and couldn't wait to start playing. As a matter of fact as soon as I got my course I started practicing on a church instrument. Oh the sad irony of it all. WHA!
Posted By: outo

Re: Oh the tragic irony of it all - 01/01/13 07:37 AM

So sorry!

I have had similar nerve issues twice in my right hand. First time it was my carpal tunnel(I had needles on thumb and 1st+2nd finger), second time it was probably my neck and/or elbow (burning in pinky and palm). I consulted a doctor, but had no tests sone since a week of rest and wearing a wrist support took care of it. It really scared me because I understood that playing would be impossible if it goes on. So I have done a few things:
- Been very careful how I sit at the computer
- Don't use the mouse too long with just the right hand
- Learned to use the wrist and arm better in playing, avoiding tension and also avoid constant low wrist position in both playing and typing
- Stop playing/typing immediately when I feel any tingling
- Try to exercise to loose the stiffness in shoulders and neck
- Learn better playing technique, not try to force it by playing hard and fast and avoid curling the fingers too much
- When I had the carpal tunnel I also used a sort of a training ball for a few weeks

I do not want to get to the point where doctor's involvement or surgery is needed, so I just try to learn to be aware of the things what cause it and notice the warning signs as soon as possible.

Hope you get well soon! Don't get defeated. The body can heal itself if you give it the chance.
Posted By: Bobpickle

Re: Oh the tragic irony of it all - 01/01/13 08:57 AM

What brought this on, do you know? Was it piano-related RSI or something else?
Posted By: rnaple

Re: Oh the tragic irony of it all - 01/01/13 10:14 AM

I've said it before and I'll say it again. You can cure this stuff by allowing your body to cure it itself. Your body is much better at curing than a doctor ever can be. Ask the doctor, he knows.

What we don't know or ignore, is how to allow our body to be more itself and healthy. The answer is in mobility. Moving our joints to their fullest extent. That's moving our body to it's fullest extent. That will increase with mobility drills.

You ever think about how long it has been since some of your joints have moved in certain ways? Many years. We often become overcompensated. We only do certain things and move certain ways. That is not healthy. Our body reacts with pain or even injury.

What I'm talking about is really common horse sense. It's very basic. Something some of the worlds greatest minds in sport physiology studied and realized there is something to it.

Yes work with a doctor. Smart doctors and rehab people will go for this. Beware of simple parrot mentality though. Just look up Scott Sonnon's; Intu-Flow on the internet. Want a stronger program for mobility? Try his; Primal Stress.

This is not spam. I cringe when I see you people post. You don't have to be going through this stuff. I had diabetes causing weight loss...I almost died. It caused nerve damage, ate at my organs. I was in bad shape. Mobility combined with the rest of what Scott teaches for training has rebuilt me. I am not the same. I am literally younger. In the exercise field they call Scott the smart man's trainer. You have to have a brain to follow him.

I have no financial interest whatsoever in this. This is not spam. I just try to help people from what has helped me. Many just choose to ignore the best help.

Yes, please do work with a doctor and/or therapist.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Oh the tragic irony of it all - 01/01/13 03:12 PM

That's really a bummer BtS!

Don't despair; you'll get better! Meanwhile, your right hand can still play, and you can do bunches of music theory while you are healing.
Posted By: -Frycek

Re: Oh the tragic irony of it all - 01/01/13 03:21 PM

Don't give up the keyboard altogether. Practice with your right.
Posted By: Charles Cohen

Re: Oh the tragic irony of it all - 01/01/13 05:29 PM

If you were resting your elbows on a table, it may well be "just from pressure on the elbow".

Nerves recover slowly, but they _do_ recover. So take things slowly, avoid over-use (which sometimes means _any_ use), and keep your muscles and tendons flexible with stretching.

"Learning theory" would be a good use of time. So would using the PX-350's multitrack recorder -- learn both the right-hand part, and left-hand part, with your "good" hand, and overlay them.

There's a Youtube video by PianoManChuck which describes the process. It's not covered by the owner's manual.

. Charles
Posted By: jdw

Re: Oh the tragic irony of it all - 01/01/13 09:39 PM

I'm sorry to hear of your injury--I know how frustrating it is!

I would be very cautious about surgery for ulnar tunnel. My understanding is that it's not nearly as simple or successful as surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.

I also had ulnar tunnel syndrome, though maybe not as acute as yours. My problem was started by computer use. It did keep me from playing for a couple of years, I'm sorry to say. I also stopped typing and used Dragon dictation software.

I tried various treatments over those couple of years that didn't help (rest, physical therapy, acupuncture, etc.). Eventually, through a real stroke of luck, I learned of the Taubman piano method and was able to take lessons with a great teacher. That's what has made it possible for me to play again.

I'd encourage you to look into the ergonomics of piano playing as well as typing. There's information at http://www.wellbalancedpianist.com/ and http://www.golandskyinstitute.org/.

I'd also be careful about your other hand. If you don't fix the patterns of motion that caused the injury, you can start to get symptoms on the other side (this happened to me when I shifted mousing etc. from my injured hand to the other).
Posted By: Derulux

Re: Oh the tragic irony of it all - 01/02/13 12:34 AM


Sorry to hear about the injury. It is unfortunate that most people underestimate the damage typing incorrectly on a keyboard can do to their hands/arms over time. It is also unfortunate that it tends to affect musicians sooner than others due to the added stress of the instrument.

Make sure you understand everything about the procedure and recovery process. Especially long-term side effects. Also, ask about non-surgical options. The recovery time may be longer, but it may be worthwhile to avoid surgery. Just a couple ideas that I hope help you make the best decision you can.

Good luck with it. I am sorry to hear about the injury.
Posted By: BillTheSlink

Re: Oh the tragic irony of it all - 01/02/13 12:36 PM

@BobPickle: Yes it was typing related. I had only played one line, the opening of Yankee Doodle.

Someone mentioned Dragon. Dragon is what I am using now. I am also trying desperately not to lean on my elbow or sit with the heal of my hand pushing down on my leg or table, but it's such a hard habit to break. It's like the arm is in the way 99% of the time. It drives me nuts.


"Learning theory" would be a good use of time. So would using the PX-350's multitrack recorder -- learn both the right-hand part, and left-hand part, with your "good" hand, and overlay them.

There's a Youtube video by PianoManChuck which describes the process. It's not covered by the owner's manual.

I've seen that and never thought of it to be truthful. Thank you. The two reasons I went with the 350 was voices and recording ability. Well that and portability. I was going to wait for the new AP 650, which is the same thing as I understand it in a console with bigger speakers, but we'll be moving in a couple of years at the most and I can't lift I am disabled.
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