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I am creating a 'Top Tips Guide to Playing Piano With Arthritis' for our piano student community (aged 60 to 90+) and would appreciate any advice or tips from anyone who has experienced ways to reduce the symptoms through playing piano or physical exercises. All feedback would be welcome.

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Warm up exercises for the hand, wrist and arm.
Be even more aware of your body posture. Alexander techniques come to mind.
Squeezing the hand tight and releasing. Repeat .


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Use it or lose it. If you don't move the joints, you lose flexibility. At least, that is my experience. You have to be willing to tolerate some pain to stay flexible - don't stop just because you have a little pain in your joints.

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I have mild arthritis in my hands. I asked a RPT if he could make the action lighter. It was a little expensive as it's a three+ hour visit. It made a big difference in mitigating the soreness. However the lighter action is more difficult for me (at my modest level) to control. It takes a while to get used to.

Last edited by ˆTomLCˆ; 07/03/21 11:03 AM.

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Ice helps!

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Originally Posted by decmeister
I am creating a 'Top Tips Guide to Playing Piano With Arthritis' for our piano student community (aged 60 to 90+) and would appreciate any advice or tips from anyone who has experienced ways to reduce the symptoms through playing piano or physical exercises. All feedback would be welcome.

There are different kinds of arthritis. I have osteoarthritis, and I am pretty sure playing piano caused it (in addition to having a predisposition of course). The action of my piano was too heavy, and probably also in other aspects ergonomically not compatible with me. Inflammation stopped and the whole deterioration of my joints stopped only when I switched from the digital action I was playing (Kawai CA58) to a relatively light acoustic action (Kawai K300). This was more than a year ago, and inflammation never came back despite me playing much more. Damage done cannot be undone though. The process just stopped getting worse.

Many people will tell you, in my case even a professional physiotherapist, that playing the piano does not cause arthritis and is even good if you have arthritis. But I would say it depends. Many actions nowadays are heavy, also digital ones. I would advice people to play a light action, preferably acoustic (they are probably lighter when holding keys down, as compared to digital). Less inertia and less friction in the end means less impact on already damaged joints.

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If my piano suffers from arthritis, I will call the tech.


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I am 76 and have arthritis in my hands, especially the right one. It is osteoarthritis which comes with age. I was misdiagnosed by an orthopedic doctor a few years ago who said it was tendinitis. He did not even take an X-ray and spent less than 5 minutes. Since tendinitis needs rest, I only played with my left hand for months while seeing a physical therapist. Several months later I went to a different orthopedic doctor who did take x rays and said you have arthritis and it is bad in those fingers, third, fourth and fifth. I asked him if it was okay to go back to playing the piano with both hands, and his answer was playing the piano is the best thing you can do for it.

A friend who was a professional pianist suggested using the parafin hand treatments that they do in nail salons. He was older and used them himself. You can buy the materials online and do it at home. I sometimes just use warm water and then warm up on the piano with scales and easy pieces. I especially have trouble with octaves in my right hand. When I just started playing a piece with octaves one day even though it was a slow piece I felt it so now I make sure I am warmed up first.

I do not have pain very often but I feel that I cannot play anything fast like I could before. I returned to the piano and taking lessons 10 years ago and was making steady progress for the first 7 years but then my playing seemed to get worse instead of better.


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I use splints for my thumbs rhizarthrosis
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You need to modify the technic but it helps a lot with the pain.


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Originally Posted by pianogabe
. I have osteoarthritis, and I am pretty sure playing piano caused it (in addition to having a predisposition of course). The action of my piano was too heavy, and probably also in other aspects ergonomically not compatible with me. Inflammation stopped and the whole deterioration of my joints stopped only when I switched from the digital action I was playing (Kawai CA58) to a relatively light acoustic action (Kawai K300). This was more than a year ago, and inflammation never came back despite me playing much more. .

I've heard this so many times. I've been playing for years on digitals and my fingers have slowed. No pain, though. My mother had it much worse than me.
But I've been toying with the idea of a silent piano. I'm told the action is compromised by the mechanism.
Food for thought! And I been doin' too much o' that lately.


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I don’t I have arthritis in my fingers but my wife and I have arthritis elsewhere and we use this cream below. She is Chinese and was introduce to it a couple years ago. This cream is like a miracle. It burns for about 15 minutes after rubbing the area with pain but it’s like a miracle cream.

We buy it on Amazon for like $13 I think. Made in germany. All naturals stuff in it.

It might work for you




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Warm end - extra stark

It is the red container with a picture of a horse.

Last edited by Ampersand; 07/04/21 08:31 AM.
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Originally Posted by Sol Finker
I use splints for my thumbs rhizarthrosis

You need to modify the technic but it helps a lot with the pain.

Looks familiar!

[Linked Image]

The splint doesn't seem to impair me too badly, but it does interfere with fast runs and anything intricate. I've recently had a pretty bad flareup in my left hand, and am wincing while playing quite a lot. Wide chords and passing the thumb under for position changes are painful. I am likely to go back for another steroid shot about 7 months after my first one. I'm 48 and have osteoarthritis in both hands.

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Originally Posted by decmeister
I am creating a 'Top Tips Guide to Playing Piano With Arthritis' for our piano student community (aged 60 to 90+) and would appreciate any advice or tips from anyone who has experienced ways to reduce the symptoms through playing piano or physical exercises. All feedback would be welcome.

Top two tips i’ve experienced first-hand - getting off certain medications and changing my diet to low carb.

The meds tip, for obvious reasons, is not for me to recommend others to do. In this modern world there are many who would argue it is not appropriate to recommend for myself to do BUT at times i draw the line with things self. Doctor put me on a statin and within a month all of my usual arthritic pains (several) got worse and i developed new ones! When i took my self off the statin, the new ones soon went away and the old ones returned to their previous level. In March 20’ i began trying the Keto diet and found that among the many improvements to my health - several confirmed with typical blood/metabolism tests - when i stay on the diet, the pain from old ones is further reduced, some to the point of being unnoticeable BUT when i go off the diet for a few days or more, such as for special occasions “cheat days”, the pains of these old friends usually return soon after and at times the pain is much worse than usual..... in America, today is one of the traditionally top cheat periods of the year 😊

YAPTsMMV

Peace!

Last edited by drewr; 07/04/21 11:19 AM.

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Originally Posted by drewr
Originally Posted by decmeister
I am creating a 'Top Tips Guide to Playing Piano With Arthritis' for our piano student community (aged 60 to 90+) and would appreciate any advice or tips from anyone who has experienced ways to reduce the symptoms through playing piano or physical exercises. All feedback would be welcome.

Top two tips i’ve experienced first-hand - EDIT: are not due to piano playing or physical exercises but are instead due to tips from outside those bounds .... i tried to edit/delete my post but too late, my sincere apologies 😕

YAPTsMMV

Peace!

Last edited by drewr; 07/04/21 11:38 AM.

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Originally Posted by peterws
But I've been toying with the idea of a silent piano. I'm told the action is compromised by the mechanism.

I wouldn't let that stop you. It is only a regulation thing, not the mechanism itself, and the difference with a non-silent version is only *very* small (a few mm let-off distance). Some people can (barely) detect it, when playing a non-silent and silent version of the same type of piano side-by-side, some don't. It would only affect the acoustic playing, not the silent playing, and then only when playing very softly. The hammer is let off from the jack say 4 mm instead of 2 mm before it hits the string, which at very low hammer velocities you may be able to notice.

Not saying it doesn't exist, but I believe this is only a very small downside, and to me, this stands in no relation to the big advantages of a silent piano.

I would just try out a silent piano and see if you feel you can play very softly on it acoustically. If it is a new or well-regulated piano I can almost guarantee you can. My silent K300 plays *much* better softly then the DP I had before (a CA58), so even if it is a tiny bit less than a non-silent K300, overall it is still a huge improvement.

The only alternative is to have an acoustic and a separate digital. But if you want that digital to have the same quality as a silent upright, you would need a NV5 or NU1x.

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Originally Posted by pianogabe
Originally Posted by peterws
But I've been toying with the idea of a silent piano. I'm told the action is compromised by the mechanism.

I wouldn't let that stop you. It is only a regulation thing, not the mechanism itself, and the difference with a non-silent version is only *very* small (a few mm let-off distance). Some people can (barely) detect it, when playing a non-silent and silent version of the same type of piano side-by-side, some don't. It would only affect the acoustic playing, not the silent playing, and then only when playing very softly. The hammer is let off from the jack say 4 mm instead of 2 mm before it hits the string, which at very low hammer velocities you may be able to notice.

Not saying it doesn't exist, but I believe this is only a very small downside, and to me, this stands in no relation to the big advantages of a silent piano.

I would just try out a silent piano and see if you feel you can play very softly on it acoustically. If it is a new or well-regulated piano I can almost guarantee you can. My silent K300 plays *much* better softly then the DP I had before (a CA58), so even if it is a tiny bit less than a non-silent K300, overall it is still a huge improvement.

The only alternative is to have an acoustic and a separate digital. But if you want that digital to have the same quality as a silent upright, you would need a NV5 or NU1x.
Excuse me for disagreeing, but I tested a couple of pianos with silent system, and I remember that on one of them the key bed was affected very negatively, it became hard as stone. The same thing I also noticed several times after PianoDisc installation. The key bed so hard turns piano almost unplayable and I think is very detrimental for arthritic joints. So I urge everyone to be cautious and to try the key bed carefully before buying a silent piano or a piano with PianoDisc.

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thanks for your comment - have you any detailed instructions on effective exercises?

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taking on board the comments about avoiding heavy action keyboards, are there benefits to using semi weighted keyboards such as the Yamaha Piaggero range eg NP-12 or NP-32 which are very light to touch?

Has anyone experienced a dramatic reduction in pain or dependency on anti-inflammatory drugs similar to Pam's experience as described at https://decplay.com/learning-piano-with-arthritis/

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Excuse me for disagreeing, but I tested a couple of pianos with silent system, and I remember that on one of them the key bed was affected very negatively, it became hard as stone. The same thing I also noticed several times after PianoDisc installation. The key bed so hard turns piano almost unplayable and I think is very detrimental for arthritic joints. So I urge everyone to be cautious and to try the key bed carefully before buying a silent piano or a piano with PianoDisc.

Yes, in that case very likely there is something wrong with the installation or regulation. In an upright, the silencing bar should catch the hammer just *after* let-off. If the installation or regulation is wrong, it may stop the hammer before let-off, which leads to what you describe. That would be easy to fix though.

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I have those splints, actually several that also protect my wrist. My ortho prescribed this:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diclofenac

It worked miracles. You have to be pretty healthy as it can be hard on the liver. I used it for a month , stopped and haven’t really needed it since. (2 years now). But I can feel the arthritis coming back. Piano playing really does help keep it at bay. There’s a GREAT book on The Hands , that Harvard University put out that’s really eye opening. I recommend for ALL pianists.

I’ll look for a link and post later if anyone’s interested.




Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
Originally Posted by Sol Finker
I use splints for my thumbs rhizarthrosis

You need to modify the technic but it helps a lot with the pain.

Looks familiar!

[Linked Image]

The splint doesn't seem to impair me too badly, but it does interfere with fast runs and anything intricate. I've recently had a pretty bad flareup in my left hand, and am wincing while playing quite a lot. Wide chords and passing the thumb under for position changes are painful. I am likely to go back for another steroid shot about 7 months after my first one. I'm 48 and have osteoarthritis in both hands.


TH
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