Help with arthritis in hands

January 1, 2007 at 01:44 AM · I have noticed lately what I think is arthritis creeping into the joints of my fingering hand, much to my complete dismay.I am 58, and started the violin again about three years ago, after playing as a child, and having a pretty fair amount of talent. The violin is my passion, and I am pretty devastated by this. Of course I will see a doctor, but if it is confirmed, do any of you know something natural that can help with this? My fear is I'll be told to live with it; just take aspirins, or be put on steroids, etc. And perhaps that's what it will come down to, but I thought I'd at least check with you guys in the meantime. Any of you been thru this?

Replies (26)

January 1, 2007 at 02:09 AM · I am seventeen and have had fibromyalgia and a connective tissue disorder my whole life. I have no specific advice for arthritis, just chronic pain in general. For me the most helpful thing was to rearrange my practice times into short, concentrated bursts, and not to overtax myself. There are a few other people here who have arthritis, fibromyalgia, or something similar who will no doubt have better advice.

Just wanted to give you my sympathies. Know that there are others out there with similar problems, and many obstacles can be overcome with persistence, a good attitude, and some creativity!

January 1, 2007 at 02:28 AM · usually a focused and practicing time is the best thing, and that's what my teacher suggested to one of her old student... i don't think you should be on steroids though... hope everything would be better!

January 1, 2007 at 08:44 AM · Greetings,

your major area of cocnern is food. Firts and foremost get organic omega three flax oil and start taking a dessert spoon in the mornign and the evening. This not only lubricates the joints but builds your immnue system. Athritis is a depressed immune system condition.

Acoid calcium inhibitors: meat or excess protein. Intoxicants: alcohol, tobacco, coffee, marijuana; refined sugar, sweets, excess salt. Resrict the following because of oxalic acid: rhubarb, cranberry, plum, beet greens, spinach.

It may just be a single memeber of the nightshade family causing the problem , especiallytomato, but also eggplant, bell peppers and potatoes. Try to finf outif one is a primary allergen by avoiding them all for six weeks and then adding them to the diet one at a time for a few days. If you get a reaction then stop using it. In any case try and avoid these veggies because they conatain a calcium inhibitor called solanine.

Dairy prducts also are out. If you are desparate use goats milk.

Especially important are chlorophyll rich foods (Chlorella and spirullina are a big help). Barley and wheta gras sproducts have high anti inflammatory and detoxification effetcs.. Restrict all nuts except almons.

You also need to get adequate sunshine (at leats 20 minutes a day when sunny) and mild exercise



January 1, 2007 at 01:06 PM · I've met people with very good results from homoeopathy for this kind of problem, it's a very precise system of medicine though, so you do need to see a professional. As I understand it, the earlier you start treatment the better the chance of success (before the arthritis gets too established).

I found a list of qualified homeopathic doctors in each state which might be a good place to start.

This be worth considering, alongside the dietary suggestions already given?

Wishing you a speedy recovery.


January 1, 2007 at 04:07 PM · I've found a few natural and various other products to rub directly onto my joints and inflamed areas on my hands that really help. Different ones before or after practice or just whenever it hurts (especially important to get the inflammation down quickly in the morning when you wake up and are really stiff).

One good one I have found for inflammation is a mixture of essential oils of ginger, peppermint, vetiver, cypress, spruce, rosemary, frankincense, and pine oils.

One good for the pain (and quite cooling), is made of epsom salts, pine, eucalyptus, (wintergreen if you can stand the smell), castor oil, emu oil, aloe vera, camphor, menthol, clove bud, and lavender (also sometimes not a pleasing scent).

Every person is a little different. At CVS I found an oil called "volcano oil" for arthritic joints that has medical grade terpentine, kerosene, petrolium.

Some people say that eating grapes is helpful, but I prefer to use a grapeseed oil as a carrier oil for these oil blends. Usually, though, I mix them with a lotion.

Keep your hands out of extreme temperatures or wind/elements. Using lotions and oils all the time, I wear thin fleece gloves with the fingers cut out so that I can still do my regular activities without having my hands slip and slide all over everything.

As for practicing, make sure you are loose and have worked out the stiffness in your joints, are warmed up (not cold hands), and not in a lot of pain before starting. A certain amount of pain following practice might be expected, depending on the condition of your joints.

In the mornign sometimes, I fill a tupperware container with ice cubes and water and salts and soak my hands as long as is tolerable. That really makes them feel good when I take them out of the icewater.

Ultimately, you want to halt or slow the progression of damage to the joints so that they remain agile and flexible enough to play the violin with speed, acuracy, and a full range of vibratos and articulations etc. etc.

If your doctor prescribes an anti-inflammatory, it isn't the worst thing in the world. Careful with steroids, though.

There are natural anti-inflammatories you can take oraly or as supplements, but I think Buri has that one totally covered :).

Good luck,

Jennifer Warren

January 1, 2007 at 05:44 PM · My wife has severe Arthritis, both kinds. As an ex pro athlete she's really ticked off. She was getting Chemotherapy for this until our insurance folks cut her off. Now she's really in pain. She's tried all of the above and for some people it won't do a thing. For others it might help.However, while the above advice could possibly be quite helpful, if you play violin I would make haste and go see a MD specializing in Arthritis. Get treatment now before it progresses. It will progress, but you can slow it down.

January 1, 2007 at 06:02 PM · really enjoy reading the suggestions given so far, make me salivate and want to put a spoonful on a piece of toast to try taste it! Buri's may taste more fishy and jen's may be even spicy!

i agree with buri on the omega 3 approach. my family (esp the kids) live on fish oil (a rather expensive brand which claims to have rid of the mercury often found in deep sea fish these days). fish oil apparently offers more protection because it contains boths epa and dha, that combo not found in flax oil alone. but, boy, is it fishy! some small studies suggest that high dose fish oil rich in 3, 6, etc seem to help people with connective tissue diseases, including arthritis. i was under the impression that fish oil may make kids smarter because it also has some neural protective effects. but i have noticed that they get so smart that they learn to play dumb.

on the topic of arthritis,,,without getting way out of the limb, consider at least 3 broader directions.

1. rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that usually hit much earlier, a case of body's own immune system fighting itself. not depressed, but in overdrive and chaos. (just saw ray's post above, suspect the wife has this form).

2. osteoarthritis, a condition that i suspect is the case here which will affect everyone eventually to some extent if we live long enough. nothing much we can do, simply a case of wear and tear, just a matter that some people get it earlier.

3. rheumatoid symptoms with other underlying entities. in other words, it feels like arthritis, tightness, pain, etc, but there are other internal issues to be explored.

having said that, the common sense approach is to consult a qualified expert if the symptoms progresses if CVSVitamin stores/ are not of any help.

a recent large study of people with knee arthritis suggest that mod amt of exercise is better than no, low or high level exertion on pain level/ function level etc. may be, after all, violin playing may be good for people with hand arthritic symptoms.

good luck and good health.

January 1, 2007 at 08:02 PM · I'm in the aches and pains category, no diagnosis. Luckily once I am warmed up, playing doesn't hurt. Weather is a factor for me, cold&damp, also high humidity when it is hot, also impending weather change. Can't do anything about weather, but I do pay attention so I'm not frustrated. The various dietary/supplement suggestions all sound OK to me. Nothing too far out there. Mainly, it takes a while to work through trying one thing, then another, to test what feels helpful. Just don't overdo the doses, and don't try everything at once. How about a skilled/intuitive naturopath? My RN friends swear by the one they see. It would also be a good idea to read through some of the threads here about supporting the violin, finding a shoulder rest, dexterous fingering, release of body tension, etc., etc. There have to be some ideas that will click for you. Luck! Sue

January 1, 2007 at 08:12 PM · Oops! Forgot practically the most important thing! Consciously pay attention to how you use your hands all day long for a few days. Adjust how you do things or eliminate things that aren't that important, when you become aware that something else hurts you. For instance, hand-operated can openers and peppermills bothered my neighbor like crazy. My colleague gave up knitting. I wash the dishes by hand, don't do the pot-scouring, use wrist rests at the computer, use workgloves with those plastic dots and a little trowel to remove weeds(and water the area, first,too), wear warm winter gloves and snug driving gloves. You get the idea... Sue

January 1, 2007 at 11:37 PM · Greetings,

>Every person is a little different. At CVS I found an oil called "volcano oil" for arthritic joints that has medical grade terpentine, kerosene, petrolium.

medical grade cancer causing agents! Best rule of thumb for what you put on your body- if youwouldn"t drink it don't use it ;)



January 2, 2007 at 01:56 AM · I suffer from myofascial pain syndrome. It's close to fibroymalgia but most severe in my head and neck (mine is cause be severed TMJ and osteoarthritis in the neck).

Check with your doctor. After many (and I mean many -- all of the above and dozens more) different try coral calcium (marine grade) and what works best for me is a 2:1 ratio (calcium magnesium). Together with a sulfonating agent (MSM or Gluocasamine/Chondrotin) and Vitamin D3, the proper levels you need for arthritis will build up. Celedrine (both the newer cream for external and the vitamin store caps for internal) along with Hyaluronic Acid and an anti-inflammatory (Devil's Claw is a good one) will help with pain, inflammation, and joint movement. This works wonders for me, though it's not everything I have in my regime. Exercise and making sure that there is nothing else wrong with you (complete blood work and checkup) are important too.

For that matter so is the way you play, and that's a whole separate subject.

January 2, 2007 at 05:34 AM · Wow. We are an achy bunch, aren't we?

Not only that, but we are aggressive and conscious of it to an extreme.

Maybe purely out of necessity because we are violinists/violists. Or maybe we are just smart. :)

When I tell my doctors that I am a violinist, they all seem to take my treatment much more seriously. Some doctors can be very sensitive to how healthy joints and muscles and all other mentioned issues...affect a person's career.

Part of the benefit of being a a bit of a twisted way :)he he.

ANYWAY!!! Be sure to mention to the doc. that you are a violinist. Quite a few doctors secretly play the violin, or did once apon a time. Curious...



January 2, 2007 at 11:14 PM · Many thanks to all of you for some really wonderful suggestions! I am constantly amazed at the knowledge and wisdom of the people who post here! Sometimes I think expertise in the violin is the least of what you guys know. This website is the absolute best,and so are all of you.

January 3, 2007 at 03:56 AM · You mentioned that weather changes is when you have the most issues. Try controlling the temperature and humidity in one room where you play to minimize this (space heater & humidifier). It will be good for you AND your violin.

January 3, 2007 at 11:51 AM · When I had an overuse problem in college, I built hand strength by using sports putty (the weakest strength first, and then later a medium strength) to do some gentle stretches for my fingers. I also did stretches similar to what is given for people with tennis elbow, as the overuse was in the forearms. Have you ever done a paraffin wax hand soak? (you basically stick your hand in warm wak and let it dry)-I tried one once and my hands felt great after that! If you do have have arthritis, there are probably many non-pharmaceutical options to help.

January 3, 2007 at 05:45 PM · The hot wax baths help alot. And nerf balls (round) are great for strength as another option beyond the putty. Also, little superball (about 1.5" diameter) that 'give' just a little are good for strength and coordination. Coordination being rollng them between the fingers without using the other hand.

June 9, 2015 at 01:09 PM · a little late of a response but I find wearing arthritis gloves to bed helps a LOT for the day after.

I'm only 24 and I've been diagnosed with advanced arthritis and the doctors literally told me "don't use your hands too much", which is absolutely impossible.

February 27, 2017 at 04:04 PM · I am 66 years old and have only been playing violin for about 6 months. I have psoriasis and am now getting psoriatic arthritis in my index fingers. The pain never stops, but it gets worse when I practice, so I am needing to stop completely until this subsides (as it has before). Treatment for arthritis depends upon what type you have and the severity. But basically, you can expect NSAIDS (aspirin, naproxin, etc.) for mild cases. More severe cases will get you cortico-steroids (completely different from anabolic steroids that athletes often abuse), maybe biologics or even surgery.

The longer you wait to seek treatment, the faster the disease advances and the more debilitated you become. Go see a physician.

March 1, 2017 at 08:30 AM · I am 34 and started playing violin 4 months ago. I also experience some difficulties with the physical condition of my left hand.

I try out different things:

Mainly physical training to keep my body fit, swimming, fitness etc. and some basic yoga excersises found in this book:

eating some antiinflamatory capsules with mainly ginger and turmeric

eating fish oil

...and i stopped smoking

March 1, 2017 at 01:34 PM · Supplements:

hyaluronan {Oe M, Tashiro T, Yoshida H, Nishiyama H, Masuda Y, Maruyama K, Koikeda T, Maruya R, Fukui N Nutrition Journal 2016, 15 :11 (27 January 2016)}

undenatured type II collagen {Lugo J, Saiyed Z, Lane N

Nutrition Journal 2016, 15 :14 (29 January 2016)}.

Both of these were shown to be effective in double blind trials, far more so than glucosamine/chondroitin, though the effectiveness of the latter, taken in conjunction with UC-II or Hyaluronic Acid hs not been disproved.

Nutrition Journal is an open access journal.

If you take Collagen Type 2, the best preparations are those you can take on an empty stomach, i.e., no Apres-Flex, etc included.

Bronson Labs's offering is comparatively expensive, but it is claimed to be effective against the rheumatoid variety of arthritis:

Trentham DE, Dynesius-Trentham RA, Orav EJ, Combitchi D, Lorenzo C, Sewell KL, Hafler DA, Weiner HL. Effects of Oral Administration of Type II Collagen on Rheumatoid Arthritis. Science 1993; 261:1727-1730

Barnett ML, Combitchi D, Trentham DE, A Pilot Study of Oral Type II Collagen in the Treatment of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis and Rheumatism 1996; 39:623-628

Barnett ML, Kremer JM, St.Clair EW, Clegg DO, Furst D, Weisman M, Fletcher MJF, Lavin PT, Finger E, Morales A, Le CH, Trentham DE. Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis with Oral Type II Collagen: Results of a Multicenter, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Arthritis and Rheumatism 1998; 41:290-297

I'm taking other than Bronson's, because of cost, and also osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis have different causes.



(If you buy Theraputty, I recommend the softer type. I found even medium strength too strong)

March 1, 2017 at 02:53 PM · I also suffer from Arthritis, and I've been told it's a wear and tear issue, I am 26 now and with zero family members suffering from the same issues.

I get the worst pains in the left wrist and right thumb(pretty much the 2 joints most important to playing the violin).

I decided to cope it by seasonal breaks in playing at the time being.

March 1, 2017 at 03:28 PM · I'm 82 and have had increasing osteoarthritis for at least 20 years. I have gotten significant relief by taking 2 "Glucosamine HCl with MSM" tablets (from Costco) and one "Instaflex" every morning. Adding the Instaflex a few years ago made a big additional improvement in less than a week. I know this will not work for everyone - but it works for me - also I can once again open sealed jars with my bare hands! JUST READ THE LIST OF INGREDIENTS CAREFULLY IN CASE YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO AN OF THEM!

Another source of serious joint or muscle pain can be the statins prescribed to lower blood cholesterol - I had to get off those when i could hardly climb stairs anymore - the problem went away in 2 days.

March 2, 2017 at 08:21 AM · Tthere is no cure for finger/hand arthritis other than training of the hands. I have tried the most , I am 88. My suggestion is a vvisit to the physiotherapist, they have some excellent exercises an and then before practicing be creative and invent silent movements , both on the fingerboard, left-hand, and with the bow, right-hand. For me the focus in doing my home made exercises is to make sure that only the fingers move, as the fingers are connected through the hand and to the mmuscles in the wrist. A thought! At my age I realise my technique is not going to improve that much , have to be satisfied with what I´ve got bso focus always on improving tone quality. Greetings to all American colleagues! Daniel Bell, Sweden.

March 2, 2017 at 02:43 PM · My mum has had incredible results recently from rubbing hemp oil into her hands, which, like flax oil, is high in omega 3 and 7.

Other than that, there are enormous numbers of drugs that can have an impact on arthritis - see a list here

You may need a patient doctor who is willing to try out different options and see what is good for you.

March 2, 2017 at 03:09 PM · i admit didnt read every post, but you should keep in mind when reading these that arhritis rheumatoides is a completely different thing from osteoarthritis, and treated very diferently and in these posts many seem to mix them up, so you got to be sure what arthritis you are having.

If I guess right and its osteoarthritis, then the joints affected actually benefit from moving, but warm up well. I would advice maybe against of lots of vibrato though. There is alot of dietary advice for rheumatoid artritis, some of the advice is good and some isnt, but for osteoarthritis they are many quite useless.

March 3, 2017 at 07:24 PM · I am a trained herbalist, and have worked with a variety of arthritis types over the years with really nice results. While there are many easily accessible options out there, if you want to try herbs I recommend that you work with someone who has been trained in a system of healing (ie Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, etc.) so they can properly assess your condition and determine which herbs and recommendations are best for you.

Arthritis in Chinese Medicine presents with multiple patterns, for example, and the herbs for each of those patterns are unique. To take just anything "for arthritis" may do nothing for you in the long run and be a waste of your valuable time and money. (Meaning: don't fall for the "take turmeric for inflammation" hype - it's great for certain kinds of inflammation, but if you tend towards dry skin, nails, hair or if your joints creak, turmeric may slowly exacerbate those problems because it is quite drying.)

Icing the hands, while it may feel good, is bad for your circulation in the long run. If you like cool things on your hands for discomfort, something like Tiger Balm may be useful. If you like warm things on your hands, you can use a capsicum based oil/cream such as Capsaicin.

Wheat can be a common trigger for arthritis flare-ups, and as stated earlier some people do have reactions to nightshades but it is not as common.

Avoid foods that are "phlegmy": dairy, iced beverages, ice cream/iced foods, fried foods.

A general "anti-inflammatory" diet would be helpful here to get you started: lots of green veggies, some lean meats and fish, fruit, olive oil and omega 3's.

The sooner you are able to make changes, the less discomfort you are apt to feel.

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