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Tendonitis recovery process
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HP
Trondheim, Norway
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September 27, 2019 - 6:17 am
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I've messed up pretty bad. Stupid as I am, kept increasing daily practice time and ignoring the warning signs that my tendons were overworked already. I woke last weekend with excruciating pain in both my wrists and unable to do anything without making an ultra-high pitched squeal in discomfort.

My doc put me on anti-inflammatory treatment on Monday and I was told to rest fully until the constant pain went away.  After that, I was told to do some very gradual training/playing until I'm back at my old potential.

Today, Friday, my tendons are still sore and sort of swollen. It's not as painful, but honestly, I think it's mostly due to the pain relief and not due to healing. I really want to get back to playing and my lesson work. But I fear the retraining process would be time-consuming and slow. 

I did some research online on violinists and tendonitis, and apparently, it can take 6 months or even longer to recover from this kind of injury. That's really disheartening. Have any of you experience with this kind of injury? How long did it take to recover?

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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MoonShadows
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September 27, 2019 - 7:03 am
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@HP I have not had this problem, but I just wanted to say I'm sorry you are experiencing this. In my thoughts...

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks - Learning to Play the Fiddle as an Adult

The Friends of the Sons of Liberty - Three Inspiring Young Men playing Early American Fiddle Music 

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Pete_Violin
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September 27, 2019 - 7:34 am
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@HP 

Thank you for posting this.  I feel for you, although I have never had this problem before.

But it is so kind of you to share this.  We as string players all need to be aware of what an impact an injury can have on our playing and overall health.  

The important clue you shared is to always be aware of your body and what it is telling you.  Pain is a signal that something is wrong and should not be taken lightly.

I hope you can recover as quickly as possible.  It may be tempting to play early, especially if you feel you have recovered.  Do whatever the doctor said.  You do not want to re-injure yourself.

- Pete -

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cid
September 27, 2019 - 8:00 am
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@HP, I am so sorry for you! I only had minor issues like that years ago from doing too much tyling over and over with a job. But, I was able to just stop and it did not bother me personally, me, the pain still bothered me.

My daughter has that issue, ongoing for years. She never lets herself heal. She can’t stop doing an activity she absolutely loves and never lets it heal. As a result, her arms (shoulders, elbows, and wrists) never mend. They start feeling better and figure it won’t hurt to do a little. She has to start from scratch all over. Do nothing for a short period, physical therapy, other treatments, rest, rest, rest. Unfortunately, with her job, she has to do a lot of the actions she is not to do, but when she is at home, she adds to it with her constant desire to continue her hobby.

Lately, she and her husband have hired professionals to so the bulk of it and she is beginning to do less of it. She is allowing herself to just sit back and enjoy the finished project. 

But, please, please, let yourself heal! In the long run, it will get yourself back to where you need to be. After you are back to where you need to be, please use a timer and limit yourself. Remember this time period to make yourself limit your playing time.

The more my daughter ignored her tendonitis and other arm issues, the harder and more time it took to recover each time. Please behave yourself, as I keep telling her. It is hard, but remember the prize at the end, and when you reach that prize, savor it slowly and limit your time with it.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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HP
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September 27, 2019 - 8:03 am
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@MoonShadows Thank you.

 

@Pete_Violin Thank you. Don't worry, I've learned my lesson. I don't want to go through this again. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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HP
Trondheim, Norway
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September 27, 2019 - 8:22 am
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@cid I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. I hope she will finally recover. I'll rest as much as possible. I don't have a lesson scheduled for the next three weeks. Hopefully, that would be enough rest for a short and light lesson.  

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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cid
September 27, 2019 - 8:45 am
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Don’t be surprised if it isn’t. Tendons, like muscles, take a long time to recover. Three weeks is not a long time, but I am not your doctor, just concerned. Thinking of my daughter and her severe pain she goes through all the time because she does not “behave”, keeps me limiting my playing time. Think long term, HP. As you age, it won’t be as easy to recover, due to the aging, but also the accumulated damage. Best to be cautious and aware, now. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
September 27, 2019 - 10:42 am
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Oh my goodness !  @HP 

I know how much you enjoy and value playing - but take your time and ease-back gently when the time comes....

An unwanted, but salutary lesson, as they say - but I'm sure you'll come back stronger from this set-back!   And thanks for sharing that as a potential warning to others !

I've never had issues as extreme as that, but, when I started playing (well, trying to play!) I could easily spend 2 hours a day - but always broken into groups of 20 to 30 minutes of time on the instrument, with about an equally long break in between these sessions - which was around the time at which I would start to feel a tiredness, especially in my left wrist.   It never got to the point of painful (well, I didn't let it) and these days, not that I do so very often, but I can play for an hour with no noticeable discomfort. 

I appreciate not everyone can schedule their practice like that - but I was in the happy (well, not THAT happy lol - let's just say "fortunate") situation of working from home, and, basically, as long as I got the work done, I could schedule my time as I pleased.  Besides, it made the work bearable !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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HP
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September 27, 2019 - 1:46 pm
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@cid Yeah, you're right. I wouldn't be surprised if 3 weeks isn't enough. I'll see how far I've come in my healing process in 3 weeks, and if I still need some time off I will call my teacher to wait another week or however long it will take. I feel bad for my teacher though.

 

@BillyG Thank you. I'm glad you didn't end up getting injured. I think it's important to spread out the practice time. It's hard for the muscles and tendons for a beginner. It's different for a person who has been playing for years, they usually handle the beating of extended practice better.

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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cid
September 27, 2019 - 2:00 pm
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@HP Your teacher will understand and will want you to mend fully. Guarantee that. Just get well.

Trust me, I know what happened to my daughter who would not let her body mend. Even after you “mend”, you won’t be completely rid of it. You will always have to be very mindful of time spent and not over do. The tendons, and probably supporting muscles, are all damaged and will need care to not “yell” at you again. I just want you to be aware. Be well.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Mark
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September 27, 2019 - 11:02 pm
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HP,

I HATE to hear about your injury!

Please do take it easy and  let your body heal.

 

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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September 28, 2019 - 8:00 am
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HP... bummer with your tendonitis. Of course I agree with everyone's thoughts and comments.

Here's one last tidbit based on lots of experience with sports injuries: Besides curtailing the activity that got you into hot water, be aware of all of those little, daily movements that we repeat dozens of times. I'm thinking of opening doors, lifting a handbag onto your shoulder or a pot onto the stove... I think you said your problem was on both sides so opening doors with "the other" hand may not be an option. ???

Glad you have a community here to hear how your healing progress is going.

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cid
September 28, 2019 - 8:46 am
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@bocaholly So glad you mentioned daily activities. That is what hindered my daughter, too. The arms, all parts, are used all day for everything. 

@HP If you do not have ergonomic can openers, scissors, anything you grasp, you should see if you can get them. The larger handles lesson the tension. Really helps my daughter between spells (life gets in the way of her not doing things that flare it up). If you can, not sure if you live alone or with others, ask for help, which is very hard to do, I know. Ask for help with the heavy items, with twisting a d turning lids, whisking, etc. My daughter was told to do this, of course, she doesn’t do it most of the time and she pays for it. I so wish I lived closer to her! 

Pay attention to daily activities and see what and where you can modify. Grocery shopping, lugging bags, etc. I am sure your doctor has said all this. My daughter’s physical therapist has told her this over and over. When she disregards, her tendonitis resurfaces, because it is just hiding in wait of attacking like a tiger. 

I don’t know you, personally, but I have read your posts and watched your videos, and can see and hear your passion and talent. I admire that so much. I watch your videos and wish I could play like that, violin, cello, viola, any of them. It concerns me and saddens me that you have to deal with this.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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HP
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September 28, 2019 - 9:32 am
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Thank you, Mark.

@bocaholly Unfortunately, it's both hands. I try to limit my daily activities, and I'm fortunate to have helpful people in my household to help me out when needed. I'm wearing railed support bandages as well, it does take away some of the strain on the wrists.

@cid I don't have anything ergonomic. I'll see if I can find something. Thank you for your suggestion. I'm wordless for your kind words.  I appreciate it, thank you. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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damfino
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September 28, 2019 - 9:39 am
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bocaholly said
be aware of all of those little, daily movements that we repeat dozens of times. 

Yes, this! I find that fiddling for the most part doesn't cause flare ups for me, it's everything else I do all day long. Working on the computer at work, simple things like baking, opening jars, carrying bags and things at the store.... the list goes on.

I was misdiagnosed with tendonitis when I first went to the doctor for my elbow/arm pain. I do have some inflammation, but it's along with cubital tunnel syndrome, which is when the nerve that runs from your neck to your ring and pinky fingers gets popped out of place/pinched at your elbow (it's the nerve also known as the funny-bone). That causes pain not always localized at the elbow, but in places like wrists and your ring and pinky fingers. Any other inflammation exacerbates the condition, so when the nerve is tolerable, any other flare ups make the pain worse, and the nerve pain is enough to make me feel nauseous when it gets bad. 

So yes, look around at your daily activities and see what you can change... key for me is keeping my arms straight as much as possible all day (keeping elbows bent is often what causes the condition), which after over a year and a half of waiting to heal, has become just normal to me, I don't have to think about it quite as much. But at first I had to really look around and see what I could change and adapt.

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starise
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September 30, 2019 - 8:43 am
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@HP and @damfino Sorry to hear this. I hope you both get better soon. I don't have much to add that hasn't been said already. I am waiting for an old injury to my left wrist to rear it's ugly head. Motorcycle accident. Broken left wrist. So far I've been fortunate.

You might be taking prescription anti-inflammatory drugs. After having some other unrelated health issues I looked at holistic treatments that are supposed to work. Since a lot of holistic medicines aren't closely regulated it's easy to get something that doesn't help much. I did find a few though that seem to help. In this case, Tumeric is supposed to be helpful. Since I don't eat Indian cuisine I opted to buy it in bulk and load gel capsules with a capsule loader. I also do this with Ginseng powder. For these it's probably more about what you don't see happening than what they make happen. They don't hurt to try and are supposed to be good for lots of other things too.  I was almost religious in taking it until my other ailment was no longer an issue, then I stopped for awhile. Just recently trying to get back on the boat with it again to stay regular with taking it. I think it really helps with these kinds of issues.

None of this will keep it from happening if you go too far, but might help in the healing process or lessen the effects.

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AndrewH
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September 30, 2019 - 2:43 pm
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@HP, sorry to hear about your tendinitis. And @damfino, sorry to hear your elbow is still causing you problems. Hope you both get better soon.

I had rotator cuff tendinitis in my left shoulder for a year and a half, but mostly it didn't heal because I was sleeping on a too-firm mattress after losing weight, which caused my shoulder and back muscles to never really get any rest. I also didn't try to rest it for long enough -- I stopped playing viola for three or four weeks at a time, when it really needed much longer. The worst thing for it was actually driving, because even though I'm right-handed I tend to use mostly my left hand to turn the steering wheel. I had to start consciously avoiding using my left hand too much when driving.

The rotator cuff healed after I got a soft mattress topper, but I still had pain in other parts of my shoulder because by then I had an unstable scapula from some muscles becoming weaker and other muscles overcompensating. This was actually worse than the original rotator cuff tendinitis. I finally started physical therapy in March; got out of physical therapy about two weeks ago and I'm gradually returning to normal activities.

Recovery starts with 6-8 weeks of rest, and the rest of the 6 months is to fully correct any muscle imbalances that may have been caused by the tendinitis.

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HP
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October 3, 2019 - 5:35 am
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I'm so sorry to hear about your injuries @damfino and @AndrewH. I hope you both will be in good shape as soon as possible. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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Gordon Shumway
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@HP , did you say you sometimes play for 2 1/2 hours without a break? This can't be combined with technique that is other than perfect.

My teacher recommends 30 minutes on, 10 minutes off, repeated.

Andrew

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HP
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October 3, 2019 - 6:13 am
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@Gordon Shumway Yes, I sometimes did do that. That's probably why I ended up getting injured. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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