April 14, 2004 at 11:05 PM · Does anyone hear have arthritis or anything else related to it like; carpal-tunnel syndrome etc... that still plays the violin happily?

Replies (32)

April 15, 2004 at 01:17 AM · Hi, I don't usually post, but since this is such a personal topic, I'm going to respond. :)

My name is Klara and I'm a 16 year old violinist going on to be a professional. I've been to the Interlochen Arts Camp for two years, and last year I attended ENCORE School for Strings, where I will hopefully be returning this summer. When I was in 7th grade (12 years old), I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and while my flares have been down, my elbows flared up this semester and I've been coping with that, you might say. Just because it hurts, doesn't mean you can't play violin happily. I still "happily" play all the time, attend numerous orchestras, quartet, and am preparing to solo on various pieces. I realize this is an extremely long reply to, really, a yes or no question, but it's been hard for me many times to cope with having a monster eating out my joints, that I want to encourage anyone else who has rheumatoid arthritis, not to give up. I'm currently on ENBREL (I would highly recommend this medication for rheumatoid arthritis), Methotrexate and have taken numerous doses of steroids. I'm not giving up my dreams of playing professionally (maybe even in a string quartet if I'm lucky :) ), and so...well, to comfort myself and anyone out there with RA or JRA, it's going to be ok, and we can all play "happily" ever after.

The end.

Thanks for listening, and good luck to you. :)

April 15, 2004 at 02:17 AM · Greetings,

Klara, thank you for taking the plunge and replying to this. I wish you a long and successful career in music. I wonderif I could ask if you have any specific rules about food and drink that makes the problem more manegeable? This kind of infomration is very useful for all musicians, who should pay more attention to looking after joints than they usually do. (I recommend my students take omega 3 flax oil as a matte r of course).

Incidentally, I know the original posting was not equating them, but Carpal Tunnel is actually quite treatable through Alexander or Feldekreis lessons. Sadly, RA is not although these kinds of lesosns can help to minimize the pain quite substantially,



April 15, 2004 at 03:37 AM · Hi, Klara. I actually recognize your name from orchestra; I, too, have been to Interlochen for the past several summers. Hope to go to encore one day....

I've also been struggling with chronic injury. I've got nerve damage of some sort in my left shoulder. Tried alexander technique for awhile (in addition to every alt-med out there), and while it's potentially helpful, it wasn't ultimately a cure. The best thing for playing (besides taking nutritional supplements--and btw, glucosamine chondroitin has been highly recommended for arthritis/joint pain), I've found, is to stay physically very active. Lots of exercise. It hasn't cured me either, but it did reduce the frequency and severity of my pain. Somehow also keeps you motivated to play. I'm not giving up on my dream to be a violinist either, despite dr's telling me if I don't get rid of this it's the end of my career (btw, does anyone know if cortisone shots tend to help, and if they're harmful in the long run for violin playing?). As the cliche goes, it's not what life gives to you, but what you bring to it that determines the outcome.....if you are determined to be a violinist, then you will be one. I've rambled enough for now, but I had to's a topic that I live with daily...

April 15, 2004 at 04:51 AM · Greetings,

glucosamine was in vogue among body builders for a time, but there was not a great deal of data to suport it being worth the effort. The other problem with that is it is very hard on the stomach.

Don`t touch cortisone. The pain is there as a warning.

Alexander Technique is not a cure as such but rather allows you body to heal in ideal circumstances. It depends on the individual how much help you would need. It can be an awful lot. it was in my case.



April 15, 2004 at 04:59 AM · Hello,

In reply to Buri's post, the thing about RA is that nobody really knows where it comes from or what it is triggered by, and so you have to be careful about diet. The recommendation is to go w/o dairy or sugar products for about two weeks, (and really anything that you suspect might be harmful in terms of the RA), and slowly begin to put some of these into your diet again. This will help you figure out which specific food or food group might trigger inflammation in your joints. But yes, overall, you should eat well, lots of fruits and veggies, (I like peas and broccoli myself :) ), not as much sugar, and drink plenty of water. RA is a tricky little devil and it can be very frustrating and annoying...Exercise is also important though it's more important to flex and stretch your joints rather then put weight on them. Weight lifting is not recommended, but swimming and biking are both excellent. Running hasn't worked for me, sadly...Simply because of the stress on the knees. By the way, in reference to cortisone injections, I have taken a couple, and they have helped me; It's true, they aren't that great for you but can provide a boost and a quick solution to some of that inflammation. I don't know...I'm not an expert or anything, but I try. That's all we can do, I suppose...try really hard. I hope that helps at least a little bit, good luck, and take care everyone!



April 15, 2004 at 05:10 AM · Greetings,

thanks for your comments Klara. (Personally I think one should keep the sugar and dairy products out the diet permanently, but that`s my prejudice;))

I think there is a fair consensus on cortisone that it can be useful as a short term solution if things get real bad . There is a reasonable overview at this site

but it is a big topic so tere is a lot of material availble via Google. The impression I have built up over the years is that it does not cure the problem (as some have claimed) and therefore it prevents people exploring what the real cause of the trouble is thus it persists and continues to do damage.

There isd also the question of tissue deteriroration.

I have a cellist friend who practices ten or twelve hours a day . In order to do that she goes down to the hospital once everyfew days to get her shots. That`s nuts! Reminds me of a body builder I knew who took every which steroid but one without doing any research. He asked me about a particularly dangerous one because it was giving him green stools and I pointed out that was a fairly strong indicator of cancer. He just nodded, and then kept on about whether or not it would make him bigger...

All the best,


April 15, 2004 at 06:02 AM · I got a cortisone shot in my left elbow to help me get through a particularly difficult time with my lateral epicondylitis. It was HORRIBLE - the pain from the shot, directly into the elbow joint, kept me from playing for two weeks! The tendonitis felt like a picnic after that.

April 15, 2004 at 10:34 AM · Hi!

I have two friends, who both get tendonitis pretty severely. One is a viola de gambist and the other is a pianist. They both soak their hands in warm water when the tendonitis gets bad. They also do gentle daily exercises and only practise when they are in a moderately warm room.

Some people wear copper bracelets for arthritis. I wore one for a couple of months following a tendon injury. I was really sceptical of the whole copper thing, but I found that when I wore a bracelet of this kind for a period of more than two weeks, there was a lot less pain. Real cure or psychosoma? Who knows.

Hope this is helpful. Sorry that I couldn't be of more help, but I wish you lots of luck. ;)


April 15, 2004 at 10:38 AM · Greetings,

on the other hand, thinking of the 'excuses for not practicing ' thread now running, you could have said to your teacher "the cortisone impregnation of my lateral epicondilytis rendered me immobile,' and probably gotten away with it,



April 15, 2004 at 11:04 AM · Greetings,

back from the nightmare generally referred to as work , I have been able to consult a book called Healing with Whole Foods by a guy called Pitchford who is one of the worlds leading authorities on the ins and outs of both western and Oriental medical practice and how to get the best of both worlds. I actually recommend the book to anybody who wants to improve their health and even pep up their performance through improved nutrition etc. There is a substantial chapter on arthritis and it is easy to see why when it is talked about in western terms there is an awful lot of humming and hawing and ‘well’ let’s experiment for a week or so with this...’ Typically, oriental medicine defines various types which depend on the condition of your body in terms of factors such as dampness , heat etc. Consequently very specific treatment is varied.

However some basic things are as follows:

Arthritis is marked by mineral imbalance , especially calcium. So avoid calcium inhibitors. These are;

excess meat or any other protein source.


refined sugars and excess salt.

Restrict oxalic acid foods: rhubarb, cranberry (hah!) plum, chard, beet greens and spinach.

Very bad: tomato, eggplant, bell pepper and potato (same poisonous family)

The excess fat in dairy products makes them a no no. Switch to goats milk.

Restrict nuts, oil rich seeds and nut butters.

Omega 3 rich seed (sunflower I guess) are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Barley and wheat grass products especially LOTS OF ALFALFA leaves, but not the seeds or sprouts.

Beta -carotene helps prevent tissue destruction in RA. (Cereal grasses, wild blue green and spirulina micro-algae. Periodic use of the vegan diet



April 15, 2004 at 03:36 PM · I agree with cutting out highly refined sugars--I was told to avoid these above all else, and found improvements in cutting out processed foods (difficult, but worth it for the violin!). I was also told to avoid cow's milk. For some reason, it's considered harder on your system than cow's milk products. And told to increase vegetable intake. Interesting to see sprout leaves on the list from that book, but not sprouts. I'll have to check out the book, buri, thanks for mentioning it!

I do agree with you about pain acting as a warning. But I'll admit having chronic pain changed my mind somewhat. At some point (after years of it), the pain shifted from warning to career-stopping nuisance. It is that which can cause one to consider cortisone shots...

I don't deny the alexander technique being very helpful. It has phenomenal potential. I did discover though, that just like violin, it requires just the right teacher in order to really get the hang of it...

Anyways, best of luck to everyone out there with chronic injuries.

April 15, 2004 at 05:03 PM · Thanks Klara for your response and everybody. I have recently been suffering with tingling in my middle finger and stiffness and jolting pain, which is symptoms of it. I am going to get a checkup. I was asking because if it turns out I do have some form of arthritis I just wanted the encouragement that I could still play. So thank you again. And Klara I hope to see you in the music scene someday so you can share your story with others because I know some people with arthritis who have given up their instruments out of discouragement. So its good you wrote and your response wasn't long.

Thank You


April 15, 2004 at 11:52 PM · Greetings,

cows milk is incredibly detrimental to the stomach . It damages the lining so the correct function of blood manufacture cannot occur causing general debilitation. Also the immune system is located governed from the stomach so thta if it is not functioning well we are extremely vulnerable to degenarative diseases. It interests me that the mssive and rapid onset of diabetes in Japan occured directly afte the US occupation forces decided to dump milk of a naton that had previously rarely consume dit. the subsequent increase in diabetes also macthes hte increase in milk consumption.



April 16, 2004 at 08:08 AM · Gary Nulls' books/research give the protocols for curing this and many other " untreatable" ( phaw!) ailments.

April 17, 2004 at 09:29 AM · My left hand index hurts a little when I play, but I dunno which joint is paining. When I flex the finger up and down, I can hear a small click between the joints. I think it might be something to do with the transition I made last year from fine-tuners to pegs. I hurt my finger once from turning a hard-to-turn peg. Could this be the reason? Could my old injury be recurring, or is this something else.

April 17, 2004 at 10:23 AM · One of my dear friends who should stay anonymous, has quite bad arthritis. Yes he is sometimes in horrible pain, also when he plays. But music adds to his life and I don't think this will stop him. Music makes happy and if you will have pain anyways, why not do something that at least, even if it hurts, gives joy. And oh, by the way, he is concertmaster of a very good well known american orchestra, so it does not need to stop you from anything.

April 17, 2004 at 03:53 PM · Many people play and perform with various levels of arthritis. Arthritis is progressive but can often be controlled at a very acceptable level. You should see a doctor and consider taking some type of antiinflammatory drug. Not acetaminophen which only relieves the pain. Overuse and continued inflamation will make it worse. Be VERY careful not to medicate yourself just before performing on a routine basis. Dulling the pain to enable you to perform will definitely lead to overuse and more damage. You need to find a balance between practicing and performing and a tolerable level of discomfort. Remember that when you hurt your body is trying to tell you something; so listen.

April 22, 2004 at 02:19 AM · When I was 17 I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. It was pretty devastating to me at the time. I was practicing my violin 4 hours a day outside of school and I was a pretty serious player. I had to stop playing completely for a while. The day I realized I had a problem I was playing in orchestra and my bow fell out of my hand. My fingers went completely numb! This was almost 10 years ago and I still play my violin, but I try to keep it to under 2 hours a day. Sometimes I have flare ups. I was last treated for it two years ago, but I've managed to avoid surgery. I mostly play for enjoyment now.

April 22, 2004 at 07:27 PM · Rebecca: My Alexander Technique teacher had carpal tunel and after years of practicing AT, it is pretty much gone.

She still plays professionally to this day...

April 22, 2004 at 08:34 PM · Greetings,

yp. AT is very efective for this problem,



May 17, 2004 at 06:45 AM · Bee-lieve it or not, bee-pollen granules taken daily (as long as you don't hyper-react to stings) have really been helping me. One doesn't have to take it all the time, just in advance of cold/wet weather. The advise about certain items in your diet is important. One 98-yr old told me that tomatoes and acidic things set her off. P.S. I'm an old nurse, and avoid meds like crazy to avoid being more crazy, except as a last resort. Hope that helps! Ready1

May 17, 2004 at 07:55 AM · Read the the science and studies related to the self-treatment and curing of this ailment, through the protocols compiled by Gary Null, Phd. This is not untreatable!

May 17, 2004 at 11:20 AM · Greetings,

Avelyn. Interesting that you mention tomatos. Those, potatos and aubergines are (at leats according to all the macrobiotic stuff I ave read) not only related, but related to Deadly Night Shade whcih is Britains number one posion after its politicians

The idea that these things are bad for athritis has really entered mainstream medical treatment here in Japan where the ageing populaiton is quite badly afflicted. Don"t touch them is one of the first things a mainstream doctor will tell the patient,



May 17, 2004 at 06:23 PM · Buri-Good note-The Japanese are much more hip re medicine. They also eat lots of salt-water fish, which can swell fingers. Tomatoes are GOOD for men with prostate trouble. What a cruel trade-off, no?

May 19, 2004 at 09:20 AM · I have a mild form of RA. Jasmine, it's not what stopped me playing and it developed long after I had become an Alexander teacher, so it's not a use thing either. It's definitely immune-system related, though if I knew what the cause was, I'd have considerably advanced the course of medical science and be stinking rich by now. I take methotrexate to keep things under control. I find diet makes a huge difference to me. I haven't managed to isolate the exact culprits yet (still working on it but it's v. hard to conduct a proper scientific experiment on your own diet becuase you can't run a control experiment at the same time), but find that if I avoid acidic and soft fruits (which is pergatory for me as I luv 'em all), potatoes and related veg and carbs like bread, refined sugar, I don't have to take the daily anti-inflammatories that I have and am much better than when I do eat all those things, even when I take the anti-inflammatories. In fact, for the majority of the time, it's as if I don't have RA at all. I'm sure I'd be even better if I avoided alcohol, tea and coffee too but hell, life's too short and ya gotta have some fun........ (cheers!)

May 19, 2004 at 11:15 AM · Greetings,

Alison, definitly worth pointing out that it is immune system related. I worked for a small company here in Japan that was selling an extract of bacteria that had been very tightly held onto by one family for about fifty years. The extract has a powerful effect on the health of the stomach which is the base of the immune system. Thus many diseases were profoundly effected or reversed by taking it. A process I witnessed over and over. I persuaded a 60 year old friend of mine to try it after years of dragging his gnarled body around as best he could. Unfortunately he used slightly higher than the recommnede dosage and the healing process began too quickly. His immune system began pushing the crap out of his joints (the doctors who worked for this company said athritis was usually a kind of virus lodged in the joints)so fast he spent a day of agony lying in bed and it put him off completely.

I left the company in the end because the product was aimed only at the ultra rich and I believe medicine is for everyone.



May 19, 2004 at 08:18 PM · Yup. I believe in stating the bleedin' obvious sometimes. What was this mystery bacteria extract - not that I would be able to afford it of course because I'm not stinking rich ............ You don't play the fiddle for a living then? A

May 19, 2004 at 11:44 PM · Greetings,

the bacteria was collected from rather ancient ie flows , for what it`s worth. The doctor who put the thing together had been working on the problem that bacteria in its original state as found in yoghurt and thta is mostly killed off before it arrive s in the stomach. By combining thes e bacteria they found a kind of spit wa s produced that had the same effect as the bacteria itself and wa s pratically indestructable. Thus, 10 ml had the same strength as 10 000 cups of unpasterized yoghurt.

Yes, you would have to be bleedin` rich. I think it is goin for about $400 dollars a month now...



May 20, 2004 at 05:57 AM · Jasmine -Herbalists can be just as guilty of chicanery as the pharmaceutic corporations, and equally dangerous. is full of safe and helpful hints. Cortisone is a very scary steroid to be used with utmost caution. ACUPUNCTURE is much less risky, and most folks report relief. I can vouch for bee-pollen granules, but I only have a mild case. Have you tried keeping a diary listing what you've eaten or been doing prior to flare-ups? This may help you isolate and eliminate the things that provoke attacks. The Best to You! ~AB

May 20, 2004 at 07:19 AM · So, a kind of super lacto-bacillus at a superprice......... I think I'll just keep taking the ones from Holland & Barratt (the best we have in Brum, the second city of the UK!!!). Meanwhile, Avelyn, thanks. I keep a mental diary....... and know that a number of things are assoc. with "flare ups". Still hard to isolate though and it may still be coincidental. It just means I have to be extremely virtuous for most of the time......... ;-)

May 20, 2004 at 07:12 AM · The aging process itself has recently been recognized as being a cumulative inflamatory process, related to poor food,lack of rejuvenative nutrients( food isn't enough these days, with stress, pollution, etc) and excercise.Synthetic drugs always have legions of harmful side-effects, hidden in long paragraphs of fine print. Over 16,000 people die of aspirin in the US alone each year.

Organic vegetables are natures' anti-inflamatories and a real healing force.

Gary is a place to find the studies that prove this. The powerful pharmaceutical cos. have lobbied to make health-fetching vitamins and supplements declared "drugs" in Europe. Only a limited number will soon be available there, and only with a doctors' Rx.The logic: more people will get sick and their only recourse will be ever increasing doses of very expensive, always another, synthetic drugs, that only treat symptoms, not causes.

This nearly happened in the US recently, but Gary Null and associates laid a successful groundwork( over a 10 year period,having anticipated the assault by the drug lobby), proving that vitamins cause healing as a food, not a drug.

They do, and I hope you feel better!

May 20, 2004 at 05:30 PM · Oh yes- Gary Null better still! Thomas thank you. Some pharmacorpsmen have now had the audacity to suggest that vitamins cause havoc with one's cholesterol. Gak! I've no idea how it affects arthritis, but have myself witnessed good MUSIC being quite beneficial in lowering blood-pressure, smoothing irregular respirations and heart-rates, and decreasing the need for pain meds! ~AB

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