Raynaud’s Syndrome and playing the violin
This might be quite a specific question, but I am intrigued to see what others do.
I suffer from a circulatory condition called Raynaud’s Syndrome/Phenomenon. My hands go blue and white, often numb and can make violin and viola playing rather difficult. I also have erythromelalgia, which is the opposite. Hot, swollen and puffy hands. It’s all quite painful.
I’ve gotten quite good at managing the conditions, however, triggers such as stress (like performances), cold weather among other things, are often unavoidable.
Does anyone else suffer from this? How do you manage these? It would be good to see if there are other things I can try out.
*I have sought doctor advice, but their solution is that I stop playing, when actually playing is good for encouraging circulation*
My Raynauds came on pretty suddenly and intensely about ten years ago in addition to some other issues, like pretty much losing the ability to sweat, which made a couple summers very unpleasant. I went on a gluten free diet in 2011 and haven't looked back, as that sorted out a lot of things for me. I also picked up meditation a while ago, and practicing that consistently I believe has been helpful (Though I'm not always consistent). Sometimes I sit and meditate and my hands actually start to sweat. I also did Alexander Technique for years - I think that practices like AT, meditation, yoga and exercise calm the sympathetic nervous system so that your body learns to deal with stress without so much adrenaline, which constricts blood vessels.
My non-violin-playing oldest child had systemic autoimmune disease, including Raynauds symptoms. The best thing we did for her was to use handwarmers. Now my older violin-playing child uses them as well -- he has one that is USB rechargeable. This won't help when you get puffy/hot/red, but it will with the more typical symptoms. My oldest also got something similar to erythromelalgia and we would treat that with cold packs.
I have Raynauds since my youth. Diet helped me a lot, and especially the absence of alcohol.