I am a professional musician and I rely on my guitar playing to make my living. I found out that I had cmc joint arthritis about 1 1/2 years ago, after over a half-year of thinking that I had thumb tendonitis (specifically DeQuervain's tendonitis).
After seeing a number of different health care professionals (naturopath, orthopedic surgeon, hand surgeon, 2 hand therapists, and an acupuncturist), I still do not have the answers that I desired, because the fact is, most of them really do not have the time nor care enough to understand how important this is to me. However, I saw the hand surgeon several times, and she was the most knowledgeable and the most thorough in her assessment of my condition. She regularly performs surgery for this condition, which involves removing 3-4" of tendon from one's wrist, rolling this up and stitching it so that it essentially is capable of replacing the trapezium, which is a small, saddle-shaped bone in the wrist on which the thumb sits and which acts as a fulcrum from much of the thumb's function. The surgeon also told me that she did not think that I would be a good candidate for surgery, because she told me, "Frankly, I do not know if you would be satisfied with the results of the surgery, with the demands that you place on your thumb." She also said that the pain of this type of arthritis, more common in women than in men, eventually diminishes and goes away.
Well, here is my experience with the condition. For two years, I have iced my thumb/hand EVERY SINGLE DAY, and sometimes twice/day, with exception of about a week, when I was doing what the acupuncturist suggested. The acupuncturist told me that, since the condition was chronic, that heat would work better than icing. However, what she didn't consider, despite my careful explanation, is that every time I play guitar for 2-4 hours, the condition is also acute. In other words, I am reinjuring the area and it needs to be iced. Because I am also a long-time teacher of martial arts, I also know that icing the area (for a few days) and then following the icing with a warm bath of Epsom salts is a great form of therapy, and this has worked well with the cmc joint arthritis.
I have continued to make a living with my music. It is difficult and I am more inclined now to turn down gigs that don't allow me some time to heal from my last gig. I turn down most 4-hour gigs now. I sometimes use lighter gauge strings on the guitar, and have replaced my guitars with those with reasonably narrow necks, and I of course favor short-scale guitar necks over long-scale necks. I have had to re-voice some of my chords and alter the scope of some of my scales/modes/arpeggios/licks. For example, if I am playing some modes on the bottom (lower 4 frets) of the fingerboard, I am able to ascend through all six strings, but if I descend, I may stop at a prime note (tonic or otherwise) on the 3rd or 4th string. Actually, these changes have changed my music less than I thought that they would. I am still making changes, and the changes that I am making have inspired me to learn new techniques and have made me drop techniques that I have used for decades. This is adapting and, if I am to continue, I really have no choice.
I am not saying that I will not have surgery at some point, but at this point, I am doing my best to continue to work, managing my condition to the best of my ability, and stay as healthy as possible, since overall good health (physically and mentally) will help me to maintain better than if I get depressed or negative about this.
I hope this has helped other guitarists who might be facing this condition.View Thread
49 yrs old and am scheduled for bilateral partial knee replacement. My ortho did all the correct test and determined partials were the way to go. All of my pain was on the anterior side. 2 weeks after that appointment I started to experience pain on the medial side that's probably more painful than the original anterior pain. Does anyone think that the pain I'm experiencing on the medial side is a sign that I now need total knee's? I've called my ortho and told them about it but they didn't suggest that the medial pain was a sign of needing a total knee. I was traveling for work and was able to get a steroid injection in them that has helped some. My hope is that the pain on the medial side is just some type of transference of pain on my part and I'm still a candidate for partials. I have my pre-op visit in 2 weeks.
I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, years ago. It is not very bad at all most of the time. For about a month or so I have been experiencing pain in my upper-right arm (not the joints) and it seems to react like osteoarthritis, to caffeine, overuse and poor weather. Lifting, raising, rotating, or using the arm increases the pain, which is an ache from annoying to very bad. Ibprophen alleviates the pain only a little and for only a little while. Since it is mid-arm and seems to radiate from the bone inside, I felt it may be part of my osteoarthritis. I am poor and without health-care, so running to a doctor for exams, tests and needless care is out of the question, but if I have an idea of what it might be, I could decide better if it would be worth it. I would appreciate any input. Thankyou.View Thread
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