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#3143680 08/05/21 03:37 PM
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Hi All,

Long story short, I am planning to see a doctor (a regular GP) about this in a few weeks, but I thought I'd run it by you all to see if you might have ideas nevertheless. It's driving me nuts since I'm on a self-imposed hiatus from the piano.

I think I injured my upper joint in my left hand thumb while playing. I guess it's possible it's arthritis, but I'm a little young for that, and I thought arthritis usually began where the fingers attach to the hand. The pain is strictly in this upper joint of the thumb and nowhere else. My theory is that my playing caused it. The only thing unusual about my playing is that I went from playing a lot of close-in Bach to a loud, heavy, big-chords-galore Chopin polonaise. I was only playing 1 hour a day- nothing crazy.

Has anyone ever had a joint injury due to the piano? Besides a GP, was there another type of doctor you went to?

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Hello StartWithBach,

I see you live in the Washington, DC area. It's a place with lots of doctors.

You'll probably want to see a "hand specialist". Even if your GP (or PCP) are well qualified medical doctors, the kind of thing you're describing can be tricky to diagnose for people who don't do that all the time.

You might also look for physical therapists who specialize in sports injuries, or better yet, for musicians. I don't have a recommendation there, but it could be that those who manage local orchestras (NSO, BSO, Montgomery Philharmonic) might have a name or two for you to try. You might ask if they have the equivalent of a "team physician" too whom they can refer you. S/he would know specialists, etc.

Yes, it is entirely possible to injure yourself playing the piano. In my experience as player and teacher, these things usually occur when one fails to relax (enough) in between blows to the keyboard, and/or not flexing when actually dropping the weight onto the keys.

No substitute for a well informed teacher/coach to help with these things, particularly when coming back to the piano after a long hiatus.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
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I Make Music that Lifts People Up & Brings Them Together
Rockville, MD USA
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1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Seeker #3143721 08/05/21 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Seeker
You'll probably want to see a "hand specialist". Even if your GP (or PCP) are well qualified medical doctors, the kind of thing you're describing can be tricky to diagnose for people who don't do that all the time.

+1. The ‘hand specialist’ will usually be an orthopedic surgeon who has done additional specialized training in the hand and who dedicates most of their time to hand complaints. If you can make an appointment without a GP referral, that would be great. However, you may need the referral.

While it is certainly possible that your problems are related to piano playing, I would keep an open mind. Many of the activities we do day in/day out require our hands, and it is possible that your problem has a significant contribution from an activity unrelated to piano playing. There are also a wide variety of medical problems that can cause problems in the joints and soft tissues, and these are not caused by any particular activity. Just to say, you need someone to get the full story, do a good exam, and potentially follow this up with additional tests, if the diagnosis is not clear. Good luck!

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"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
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Thank you so much for the advice, Seeker, Sgisela, and dogperson! This is very helpful!


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