June 29, 2020, 10:05 PM · Has anyone else developed neck or spinal arthritis from playing the violin/viola?

My family has a history of this problem but I wonder if mine has to do with bad body positions as well

Replies (4)

June 30, 2020, 5:45 AM · Arthritis seems to be more genetic than environmental, although certain activities can make it worse. If your family has a history of arthritis, you should consult a doctor who specializes in arthritis, bringing in your violin and showing her/him how you play so that they can make an informed medical decision for you.

Physical therapists can also help a lot in a situation like this, and they are usually less expensive than doctors. A good physical therapist should be to analyze your playing posture and make recommendations.

A chiropractor can also advise you, if you find a good one, once they see your posture while you play.

You should also consult a respected violin teacher in your area, if you don't already have a teacher, and discuss posture and equipment issues with him/her to see if changing something like the shoulder rest or chin rest could give you better posture. A good teacher might help you be aware of better posture for yourself while playing.

Edited: July 1, 2020, 7:43 PM · "Doctor,- Doctor,- It hurts when I do this" Answer- "Don't do that".
"Doctor,- my joints hurt." Answer,- Hm--you have Arthritis" -- which is the Greek translation of pain or inflammation in the joints.
The M.D.s on this forum are not likely to comment for the valid ethical reason of Not doing a diagnosis without testing and a physical exam. There are about 70 types of Arthritis in a Rheumatology textbook, with variable degrees of symptoms, severity and recommended treatments. One reason to go to an M.D. early in the process is to rule out some of the more serious possibilities. Not intending to scare you, but, did those family members have Ankylosing Spondylitis ?
For ordinary mechanical arthritis, like over-use, age,injury, poor ergonomics, one part of the treatment is simple rest, just stop until there is some recovery. -jq, (retired med. lab. tech.)
June 30, 2020, 3:24 PM · Dylan,

Unfortunately most of the best violin shops aren't open right now. Like you I have a family history of (and the genetic markers for) osteoarthritis. Two hips replaced and thumb joints sending out pain signals.

There are a lot of very good people in violin shops that can assess your posture and position and they have the equipment to assist you in attaining the best possible posture and position.

The next option is a good psychotherapist who can look at your potion and movements and recommend changes. If you are really fortunate, you may find a therapist who is also a violinist so ask.

Edited: June 30, 2020, 10:09 PM · These things can be tricky. I only speak from the experience of lumbar spine problems that started with a tennis accident when I was 26 that led to problems the rest of my life eventually including 3 herniated lumbar disks and surgical treatment of 2 of them (probably a mistake). And then about 30 years later "something" led to a problem with 3 cervical disks resulting in partial paralysis of my left arm and fingers that kept me from playing for a year and affected my playing technique for the next 30 years and will forever more. That something may have been a slightly miss-shaped violin neck cross section (too circular) or too much time working on papers across hotel king-size beds on travel will a consultant.

I was treated by medical medical doctors for both of these problems, but the cervical spine problem benefited most from "living in" a La-Z-Boy chair for most of a month - day and night. The support ig provided my neck apparently gave it sufficient time to start recovery-that was during the time my neurosurgon said there were no exercises he could recommend for the problem but wanted to wait 6 months before talking about surgery.

But I do have osteoarthritis that mainly affects my left side, especially my left hand and left knee. This became seriously noticeable about 15 years ago and I tried various over-the-counter remedies, mostly centered around glucosamine. These were helpful from the start but became more so as I added other non-prescription "cures." About 2 years ago I finally settled on a specific product that incorporates all of the added ingredients I had tried: "Bio Schwartz Maximum Strength Glucosamine MSM- Chondroitin" that I have delivered monthly by Amazon.

So I am now playing with less left-hand difficulty than 15 years ago but I have more left-knee trouble on stairs. It is likely also weaker leg muscles

So I may be a bit of a mess, but then, I never expected to spend 30 years of retirement playing violin and cello and even adding viola. What more could one hope for?

P,S. My mother had osteoarthritis in her later years and my 3-years younger sister has it too (worse than mine)

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Find an Online Music Camp
Find an Online Music Camp

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine