Edited: October 27, 2018, 4:34 AM · I was wondering if you old-timers could share your arthritis experiences and advice with regard to the violin?
I'm approaching 60 and I've got a Heberden's node on my LH index finger, so I doubt if I'll use finger vibrato very often. Random pains in thumb and little finger (onset Bouchard node, it looks like). It doesn't seem to have done Keith Richards much harm. I haven't been to a doctor for advice. I assume there's no point. My mother spent a fair amount of money on what were clearly quack cures - dietary supplements that had to be taken 8 times a day or something stupid, usually involving bits of shark.

Replies (16)

October 27, 2018, 4:02 AM · I have suffered arthritis in my hands for some time and have tried, I believe, most of dietry supplements on the market including those ordered from the USA. It is to accept there is no cure but then go forward, do not accept not being able to continuing playing!
The only answer is the standard exercise , the kind you can do watching TV, those are effective training one gets from any competent physiotherapist; then one can create your own exercing on the violin: important to remember one is not playing ,one is traing the fingers.Try vibrato exercises slowly rolling the finger back and forward one at a time. Nate Cole´s trill exercises I find very helpful as is Simon Fischer Warm Up. I find I need 15/20 minutes movements before practicing.
But I´m determined , as I´m sure you are, to keep doing what I´ve done for so many years and I search after solutions; lately I did a 5 times course of acupuncture and that did help, next I look for some one who is doing research with laser! If I have any success I´ll let you know! All Good Luck and keep the fingers rolling along! Danbel.
October 27, 2018, 4:12 AM · I forgot to write of bowing fingers, equally of importance of course. Apart from traing away from the violin I suggest finding variations on small martelé movements with the bow up and down the stick, then there is the old crab climbing up and down the bow stick - and once more Simon Fischer has helpful exercises in his Warm Up.
October 27, 2018, 4:23 AM · I forgot to mention - when I played guitar more, I found that the exercise seemed to relieve the pain, so there are grounds for optimism.
Edited: October 29, 2018, 9:05 AM · ...
Edited: October 27, 2018, 5:31 AM · I have had symptoms of osteoarthritis, especially in my left hand and left knee for many years. The symptoms were much worse after my doctor put me on a statin to reduce cholesterol so I stopped that and was much improved. I've been taking 2 large Kirkland Glucosamine pills with MSM for many years and it has helped somewhat. When I added a single Instaflex capsule a few years later it made a noticeable improvement over that. But Instaflex is pretty expensive (even from Amazon) so after a few years I switched to a Turmeric product ("Turmeric Curcumin with Bioperine 1500mg") from Amazon and it improved even more. So here I continue playing violin and cello and added a 16-inch viola 4 years ago about the time of my 80th birthday.

These supplements definitely work for me - they might work for you.

And I still get out of the house 7 or 8 times a month to play music with other people.

October 28, 2018, 2:22 PM · Thanks Andrew for those suggestions. There are about 70 medical varieties of Arthritis, (That's Greek for "my joints hurt"), with different treatments for each. So everyone's story will be different. My version was; Juvenile-onset Rheumatoid Arthritis starting at age 22. It put a stop to my violin lessons and professional classical career, and I switched to folk fiddle styles. I had to learn the hard way- not to do long intense practice sessions. It would only trigger a relapse. Now, several decades later, that condition has burned out, to be replaced by ordinary osteoarthritis. Please do not avoid the M.D.s. Medical and drug technology is improving all the time.
October 28, 2018, 3:22 PM · Joel, you may have tried before, but being an autoimmune disease there is some (anecdotal) evidence that addressing a pro inflammatory diet can help....
Edited: October 29, 2018, 9:07 AM · I have heart disease, so anti-inflammatories are a no-no (they constrict the blood vessels).
I've got osteo-arthritis in my left foot too, but my knees are OK.
@Andrew Victor Turmeric has local anaesthetic properties, I think, so perhaps it also has more general ones.
October 29, 2018, 11:53 AM · A serendipity discovery has led to an "invention". It is a cylindrical neodymium magnet 3/4" long and 3/4" in diameter, magnetized across its diameter (not lengthwise). For example K&J magnetics code DCCDIA $10.60. It is driven by a Walgreens "Kiss" power nail filer $10.49/kit which rotates it about its cylindrical axis. I machined a simple steel connector on a lathe to attach the magnet to the axis of the nail filer and glued it on with 5 minute epoxy to hold it securely. I have made one for myself and a few of these for friends. They report that a minute or two using it around the afflicted joint it provides pain relief immediately and this lasts for about 24 hours. I think what is happening is that the rotating magnet generates gentle current in the joint and this somehow alleviates pain. You are welcome to use the design. I will post a picture if there is interest and I can figure out how to imbed it in a post.
October 29, 2018, 12:54 PM · Ted, This sounds very interesting. Please post a picture. Sounds like the iron in our blood can serve another purpose than bring oxygen to our cells.
Edited: October 31, 2018, 11:32 AM · Andrew, I have uploaded a picture to the PostImage photosharing service. Let's see if this works:
October 31, 2018, 11:59 AM · Fantastic - I have slipped it onto my desktop and can enlarge and print it.

I sometimes have left-wrist pain after two hours of orchestra viola playing and maybe this will provide fast relief.

Edited: October 31, 2018, 1:03 PM · I suppose if it generates electric currents in the iron of the blood vessels, that might generate endorphins. That might lead to addiction, or not. I wouldn't like to guess how much your chances of leukemia might increase, or not (probably not a lot compared to life's normal risks). Magnets have been a miracle cure for a long time. Originally it was for reasons of magic, I'm sure.
October 31, 2018, 3:45 PM · A.V. The length dimension is .715". Major diameter .750", minor diameter .250" disc thickness .145" No dimension is critical except the 2 mm for the hole that fits onto the shaft.

A.F. I have not noticed any addictive effect. You are exposed to alternating magnetic fields daily from motors, electronics etc. This is very low frequency. I doubt any danger.

Edited: November 4, 2018, 7:12 PM · K&J Magnetics got the magnet delivered to me in about 3 days by Nov. 2.

I realized I could use one of my Dremel tools to drive it. My Dremel tool kit includes a couple of steel shafts with a very short wood-screw on one end. (Unfortunately about 2 months ago I had thrown out a battery operated rotary nail file kit, that remained unused for the past decade when inspired by a wife-ordered cleanup in time to meet the local Sanitary company's annual unlimited trash pickup.)

Since I have no metal-working lathe or machine tool experience, I used the plastic bottle cap and connected cylindrical 3/4" diameter cork from an emptied bottle of nice Islay single malt to fashion a holder for the magnet, which I fastened on with some Gorilla Glue.

It was tricky without a mechanical holder to keep the magnet in place while the shaft was already inserted (and Gorilla glued) into the opposite side of the bottle cap because of the magnetic force of the magnet. If I had known what I was doing I would not have glued the shaft in first. BUT, with the magnet placed on the holder in one axial orientation it would remain perfectly centered and actually held in place by the balanced magnetic force between the shaft and the magnet - and about 10 hours of glue drying later it survived its first spin. (However, mounted in the opposite direction the magnet would not stay on the holder and was driven off the holder by the magnetic force - strange!!!)

I just tried it and it did rotate and remain in one piece. "Unfortunately" because I have no arthritic pain this afternoon, I can't tell if it works for its intended purpose.

But, TED, thanks anyway - it's been a fun homemade birthday present. Maybe it will be helpful after tomorrow's viola practice or Tuesday's rehearsal.

One question - what orientation of the rotating shaft to the joint do you use? Pointing toward the joint or parallel to it?

November 4, 2018, 10:06 PM · Andrew, Happy Birthday! I usually have the rotating axis of the magnet parallel to the surface of a finger but you can try perpendicular as well. The Dremel tool will probably rotate a lot faster than the nail filer and have a more profound effect. You might feel "tingling". If you decide to try with another nail filer, or would like a sturdier connector for the Dremel tool, I could make a metal connector and send it to you. My contact information is in my profile.

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