Can you lend a hand (doctor)?
My daughter is a 14-year-old cellist. She has dull pain in her right thumb that is almost undoubtedly cello-related. (She does NOT do a lot of texting.) The bad news is that it's been that way for well over a year -- while the good news is that it's not getting worse. And it only flares up to the point where she can't practice if she overdoes it on something very repetitive and strenuous like Popper "Hochschule" etudes. We tried an local orthopedist, who gave her a brace to wear, which accomplished nothing. Two weeks of total rest ... nothing. Her (new) cello teacher has prescribed some hand exercises and is focusing on minimizing strain in her bow hand while playing. But we're concerned enough that I think we need really top-level medical advice. So I'm asking whether anyone can recommend a hand specialist. Someone with experience dealing with musicians is very strongly preferred. And I'd feel better if it's someone who you've worked with yourself, or who has worked with someone you know. We live in Blacksburg VA, so we're okay with someone as far as Washington DC, Charlotte NC, or Raleigh-Durham NC. Baltimore MD is starting to get a little far but I'd consider that if absolutely necessary. Thanks in advance.
I can't help you with anybody in that area, but there is one great program near me and they are currently during Telehealth. I don't know the current doctors (I knew the previous two through various musical organizations), but it has always been an outstanding program. https://www.sralab.org/services/performing-arts-medicine
...and that website led me to this one which lists all the similar programs in the US. http://www.artsmed.org/related-pam-websites#clinic Maybe one of those is closer to you?
Susan thanks I will check that out!
My own experience with injuries related to music is that two weeks is nothing. Think of your own injuries and what you know if injuries to athletes. Healing takes a longer period of time.
I wish I had advice on doctors but I wanted to commiserate. Serious cello playing is tough on the body; my 14 year old cellist daughter has chronic neck and shoulder pain. A stretching regimen helps a lot and her teacher is very on top of advising her how to stay healthy. I have the idea that smaller-stature girls have to pay special attention to technique and stretching whereas guys can often power their way through things without worrying as much.
I realize that in my previous post I did not provide a recommendation of a doctor. The doctor that I saw has since retired. I also know that you said that Baltimore was a stretch. However, it has two centers that have expertise in music related issues:
Thanks so far. Yes, I know two weeks is nothing. A scratch doesn't even heal in two weeks. But that's the longest experiment we've tried so far. I also agree that some imaging and PT are probably part of the solution, but I'm also assuming a good specialist would order all that if it's needed. I appreciate the links in Baltimore. I just need to think about how far we can drive without using a public rest room. Baltimore is almost 5 hours, but we can probably manage that.
There is typically a wait of several months to see a specialist. I do not know how long a wait there is at the places I recommended. Who knows what covid would look like then.
Hopkins is definitely worth the drive. We are an hour and half away and it is our go to place for serious matters especially after the wonderful care we have experienced.
I occasionally get bad pain in my wrist and fingers during the times that I work out and practise a lot. There is a myriad of creams for sports injuries and sprains that reduce the inflammation and pain, allowing me to continue playing. Your daughter's case sounds more like some kind of nerve pain, but those topical creams might be worth trying anyways.
I assume she has tried different bows and different types of bow hold? Everyone is different and the human hand has many muscles and nerves; it is not a good idea to continue playing with any type of pain. After all, from a biological perspective pain serves a purpose: It is the body giving a signal that something is wrong, and that we need to adjust our behavior. I hope she will find a solution!
Also, you can look around and see if you have anyone who does Alexander Technique, Body Mapping or similar in your area. These people often have great ideas both for prevention and treatment.
This'll sound stupid, but for now, I'd have her put her thumb on the frog. Yes, I know that's typically for beginners but it's surprisingly decent for even higher level music and would allow her to keep improving in certain areas without adding to a repeated use injury. See if it helps for now.
I second Alexander, or body mapping. Feldenkrais is similar and would likely be equally helpful.
The mechanics of using a cello bow are very different than those of violin even though the basic principles are the same.
Thanks to all for the recommendations and discussions! Always so helpful. Andy, her teacher changed from Popper to a more lyrical Franchomme study for now. Her teacher also mentioned the "communication" of tension between the RH and LH.
Sorry to hear Paul. Hope you and your daughter get some answers soon.
Had a left hand injury ( classical guitar ) and switched back to violin, but it took almost two years to play violin normally again. What I learned: