Saxophone Forum


by jenntheflutist
(11 posts)
8 years ago

Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

Just this summer my arms started to bug me after playing. Thankfully it's only when I'm spending a couple hours a day playing. I don't usually play that much, but I did two camps over the summer and I'm doing a show right now. Last night before the first act was even over my right arm was already sore. What happens is when I reach out to turn a page a little tingly feeling shoots along my arm. I tried doing stretches and warming my muscles during the intermission, but it didn't help. I'm really worried because although it's not frequent, it's worse each time it happens. I don't know what it is . Please help! jenntheflutist

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  1. by chiamac
    (586 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

    do you do anything else other than playing sax? are your fingers going numb? do you're wrists really hurt? this is just my opinon, but things like typing, the stupid trackpads on laptops, and fast movements at work, do more damage than playing a horn would. just take things easy for a while, lay off of praticing for long periods of time, and take a long break if things are really bad. Also look though your life and find out other things you can do to ease the use of your hands and fingers. and look info up online. as far as my experence with this... the trackpad on my laptop gave my pointer finger tendenitus (spelling). I caught it early and switched to a mouse and trackpad... I'm not 100% back, but it did help a lot.

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    1. by claribari
      (6 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

      Sweetie - STOP!!!!!! I'm sorry for havign to say this, but I have had tendinitis for the enture time I have been in high school, and I'm a senior. Anything where your hands are moved so that they appear to be on an angle form your arms when you hold your hands out (i.e. right sax hand) and you are pinching something (i.e. keys) is the WORST possible thing you can do. I have been in pain with this for four years. Go to an occupational therapist and a hand specialist. NOW. I have arthritic degradation in my wrists from playing too much and not taking care of myself. I am 17. It sucks REALLY bad. Fluet is also very very bad for tendinitis or carpal tunnel, and it sounds like you have both. The Bo-Pep things help a little, but I really can't play flute too much. Don't ignore your pain. If you are in pain, DO NOT play. Typing is actually the only thing that doesn't bother my hands. I can't write most of the time, typing, especially on a keyboard, is wonderful. I do go to occupational therapist, who gives me steriod treatments and this crazy Japanese tape. It removes excess water from your joints and tendons, and I love it. Hope this helps, email me if you need any more info.

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    2. by saxophonik
      (73 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

      Here's a couple more thoughts: First, are you playing sports as well? Sports like baseball / softball, tennis, field hockey, basketball, etc. can also affect your wrists and tendons. As chiamac suggested, think about other aspects of your life and determine if there's anything else that might be putting strain on your hands and arms. Second, you should go have a doctor look at it right away. It may be nothing more than just needing to do stretches beforehand, or it could be something more. I don't mean to scare you, but it's better to be safe. My mom had carpal tunnel because of her career with computers. She waited a long time to get it checked and fixed, and she wished that she did it much sooner. Now, whenever I'm going to play for an extended period of time, I make sure to streth my arms, wrists and fingers. Good luck.

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      1. by SaxMan
        (559 posts)

        8 years ago

        Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

        have your tech soften your springs if they aren't already. If your horn is really fresh, then leave it alone until it is a year or so old - then have him soften the action. things won't be as clean, but with a good horn, it shouldn't be very noticeable at all.

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    3. by chiamac
      (586 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

      www.webmd.com/hw/carpal_tunnel/hw213311.asp I doubt you have this... since it takes a while to build up. Plus, the sax is pretty eurgonmic (my spelling sucks today) to play, and this syndrom is caused by bad posture in the wirists. So I really doubt you have this. www.webmd.com/content/article/78/95608.htm if I'm not mistaken Tendinitis comes from very repetivie motions, as in assembly line, or doing something more than 150 times a min (grr I wish I had my class notes on this stuff). Again, I doubt it's this because you have so many older people playing sax and they don't seem to have problems. I'm guessing it's something in your posture that's pinching a nerve or putting your arm to sleep or something along those lines. I don't think either of these conditions are caused by just a few hours a day... they are more from years of doing a task. ergonomics.org look into some stuff on that site, or search online... you're looking for things like arm position, neutrual area for arms and hands, and how to have good sitting posture and stuff... but really, a sax is pretty easy to play and shouldn't cause anything like this going on. do you have a good neckstrap?

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      1. by jenntheflutist
        (11 posts)

        8 years ago

        Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

        Sorry, I guess I should have mentioned this is problem is from flute in particular and also when I played trombone for a band camp over the summer. I try ro remember to do stretches when I remember, and I know part of the problem is that most of these times are performances, so I'm tense. I know this is a sax website so most of you might not know the ins and outs of flute, but I think arm and wrist problems affect all musicians. I might blame the typing class I have this trimester, but this started before. I'll try to think of other things. Thanks, jenntheflutist

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        1. by chiamac
          (586 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

          are you eating right, and is there anything you could be eating (or pills) that would relax your muscles? this is what I think it is... I cross my legs for 20 min, then I try to walk. My one leg is just like your arm, and dosn't work right. I just think you have a problem like that... since the two problems you brought up really take time and don't happen in just a year or two. We are talking at least 4+ years for those types of problems to come up. I just think you're too tight and need to relax a little. and also... the motion that you use to press keys on the sax/flute isn't really that bad for you. It's not like a computer key that just "stops" it has a little pressure at the end. This is far less damaging than a keyboard. =) Now, if this problem happened EVERY DAY when you played, and the tips of your fingers were starting to lose feeling (all the time) THEN you would have a problem. Again, the two things you brought up don't just come and go, they stay and are there all the time... so don't worry too much about them! and remeber, there are plenty of old people who play flute, and they don't have many problems (since they do it)... and still the flute is a pretty nutreal position, so yeah. And, my spelling didn't improve much! haha it's a wonder I made it though college!

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          1. by saxophonik
            (73 posts)

            8 years ago

            Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

            "the motion that you use to press keys on the sax/flute isn't really that bad for you. It's not like a computer key that just "stops" it has a little pressure at the end. This is far less damaging than a keyboard." Actually, from all the saxes, flutes, clarinets and other wind instruments I've played over the years, there really isn't much give in a key when it's fully depressed. It does "stop" like a computer key. If it doesn't you must be throwing your keys and springs WAY out of alignment! "the tips of your fingers were starting to lose feeling (all the time) THEN you would have a problem. Again, the two things you brought up don't just come and go, they stay and are there all the time..." Umm, actually, these on-and-off symptoms CAN be the early signs of BOTH of the problems inquired. "and still the flute is a pretty nutreal position" If you've ever played a flute you'd know that the posture is pretty uncomfortable. The way you hold your wrists cockeyed and a couple of the stretches of the fingerings (especially for a person with smaller hands) can definitally lead to muscle tension after an extended playing time. I had a feeling you were talking about flute playing rather than sax, Jenn. I still go with my advice about checking out the other activities you do and maybe ask your parents about seeing a physical therapist (bring your flute with you and show them how you hold it). Ignoring a nagging problem, even if it seems like nothing, is like the Captain of the Titanic falling asleep at the helm: it may seem like a smooth ride, but danger is just lurking around the corner. I hope for your sake that it does turn out to be nothing, but don't wait for years to pass by to see if it gets any better. Good luck. Keep us posted.

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          2. by knorter
            (205 posts)

            8 years ago

            Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

            Jen The flute creates physical problems because of the posture. Also you mentioned playing trombone which is heavy and is held differently than the flute. This adds weight on muscles that were trained to work in a different way. All of these things, plus stress, plus lack of sleep (recovery time), plus computer activity, and many other things can really mess you up. See a doctor, if they think it is mild you may want to consider massage therapy as an alternative. Good luck. Kristy

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          3. by SaxMan
            (559 posts)

            8 years ago

            Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

            could your problem be in your left hand by any chance?

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          4. by chiamac
            (586 posts)

            8 years ago

            Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

            by saxophonik.... the motion is a little different than a keyboard, and they do stop differently... also the problem comes when it wants to, not all the time. The problems they listed would happen all the time. you are right about the flute though.

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          5. by claribari
            (6 posts)

            8 years ago

            Re: Help! Advice on carpal tunnel, tedonitis etc.

            I have extremely bad tendinitis and a little carpal tunnel awhile back - AND THEY COME AND GO. And for the record, chiamac, sax and flute is so much worse for your hands because your hands ar not in a natural position while playing either, expecially flute and tenor. Keyboard is a kind of heaven for my wrists after playing sax or flute. I'm sorry, but you clearly don't have these problems severe enough to go to a hand specialist, PT or OT, and if you did, you would know that with musicians, tendidnitis and carpal tunnel are almost never "textbook" cases in a situation such as this. Because I did not get treatment early enough, I will have problems for the rest of my life. I know what I am talking about.

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