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Arthritis: The End Of Music?

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Subject: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 05:51 PM

Another cached thread.

Subject: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 02:40 PM

I'm 20 years old and have recently developed arthritis. I find it harder to make certain chord shapes on guitar and my right hand can no longer pick as quickly or accurately as it used to. And on top of that I can only play a few songs (it varies) before I seize up in pain. Is there anything that can be done short of over the counter medication? My doctor's answer was no. Maybe you all have some solution?


Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 02:56 PM

What kind of arthritis? Rheumatoid? Are you trying to avoid medication altogether? I've been taking medication for arthritis for over twenty years now. I don't like it one bit, but it has given me a quality of life I couldn't dream of without it. I wonder also whether seeing an Alexander teacher might be a help. Just to see what can be done, really.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 02:57 PM

Not even deafness is The End Of Music, witness Beethoven. With arthritis, you can still learn to sing, compose/arrange, play the natural horn, etc. Not to mention listening to concerts and recordings.

Well, if you start with the autoharp, that may be considered the real end of music ...

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 03:11 PM

no, it should not affect you if you take up harmonica playing.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 03:17 PM

Lap steel - Weissenborn - steel and thumb pick...

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Raggytash
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 03:29 PM

Guest, I use am oil prepared by a local chap, the essential ingredient of which is lavender. I also use a tens pencil, neither "cure" the pain but both give some relief. I have also been told that a squirt of WD40 rubbed into the joint helps......... never tried it though.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 03:57 PM

I think that if you are getting 'arthritis' at the age of 20, then you need to do a very serious, extensive search for the reason why. Basically, arthritis at age 20 does not make sense.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 04:33 PM

if you are only 20 that is a premium age for learning to use computer & midi music technology
and software instruments.
There are all sorts of touch / breath / gesture controller devices available if you have restricted use of hands.

Death is [allegedly] the only real end of music.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Deckman
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 05:02 PM

My condolences to you. THAT is no fun! At your tender age I would get to the specialist immediatly. You might have the "BAD" kind.

I'm a guitarist and I've had many different hand problems over my 77 (177?) years: two "trigger thumbs" and the necessary surgery, Duprytens in both hands,and painfull arthritis.

My best answer seems to be over the counter "Tylenal". Be sure and check with you doctor about the proper dosage.

I hope this thread helps you. CHEERS,   bob(deckman)nelson

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 05:22 PM

Can't advise you on the arthritis, but learn to sing! No joint movement required. It's always useful to have an alternative form of musical expression - as I found when I once lost my singing voice for months and decided to learn an instrument to keep me musically occupied until my voice recovered.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 05:29 PM

Early onset arthritis is usually rheumatoid, EXTREMELY BAD NEWS, but also treatable - though not by over the counter drugs. In fact most of the medications used for this are so heavy-duty even a GP can't prescribe them.

Get a referral to a rheumatologist, pronto.

Without treatment, this could mess up your life in ways that go far beyond playing music.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 06:07 PM

I sympathise with you, but don't give up or give into it. I have a really serious kidney disease, gout in the joints is one side effect. My thumbs kill me, but I still play.Not as fast, no blistering runs or fast finger picking but I have changed a lot of what I play and how I hold the neck and navigate. On top of that, as I am close to dialysis I have had a fistula operation on my left wrist (to enable easier and safer dialysis) it has caused further problems with movement, position and strength. I get hand cramps where my fingers lock into position (Luckily so far, not when I have been playing) I still play and sing weekly in Largs where I now live. Apart from my blood pressure medicine (caused by polycystic kidney) I take the smallest amount of Alopurinol. I have had Carpel tunnel releases in both hands some years ago. I always take two paracetamol before I go to sing or play in earnest. (It's the only time I take pain killers). So don't give up, look for ways round it.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,Phil
Date: 13 Feb 15 - 07:41 PM

Ditto all the comments about "the end." Besides, musicians are dime-to-the-dozen but a good sound engineer is a real find.

As to the condition itself, I would advise against settling on arthritis until you've got a doctor-specialist-therapist chain in (general) agreement. If you started early, carpal tunnel is not uncommon. A lot of dietary intolerances (eg: gluten, seafood & dairy) kick in at different ages.

Music is good medicine!

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 03:29 AM

I've always thought I'd take up the hammer dulcimer if I lost finger flexibility.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 05:04 AM

Being married to a retired rheumatology nurse, I'm aware that Arthritis isn't exclusively an old peoples disease. It can strike at any age, there are around 250 different types and there are even sexually transmitted types which only manifest in the male population.

If your doctor says you have to put up with it, go back and ask for a second opinion. Ask to see a consultant. It may last a lifetime but the earlier its diagnosed, the sooner some form of treatment can commence.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Mr Red
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 08:35 AM

yea, I'd go with singing.

However, at the age of 20 I would look for palliatives. One I champion is Neatsfoot Oil. Apply to hands, regularly - at least daily, possibly more often. Try it for a week at least. See if it eases the pain. It certainly isn't a cure. However ostlers in the days of horse-drawn vehicles were known to suffer less from arthritis and the popular home-spun remedy then was just this.

But at the cost of about three cups of coffee for a tin that will last months - it isn't going to cost much to find out. And it does not (AFAIK) contra-indicate with any internal medicines.

A few caveats.
1) If you are a vegetarian - you have to know it is purified from the shin bone of pigs
2) a little goes a long way. Too much is decidedly greasy, but you can remove excess. Particularly when playing guitar.
3) go for the "Pure", avoid any called "Compound" it is diluted with other oils to keeps it liquid.
4) It thickens below about 10deg C so keep a wooden spatula/coffee stirrer to hand.
4) I get mine on Ebay in the UK, not the manufacturers website (despite the web address printed on the label). Lubrisolve
5) pain is subjective, once the pain eases that becomes the worst level. Have some independant arbiter - playing the guitar for one particular tune might be that.

And let us know how you get on.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 09:10 AM

Hi Guest

The oil I referred to earlier is/was actually called Arthritis Ease Oil. It is made up from Sweet Almond Oil, Sweet Marjoram, Organic Ginger, Juniper Berry and Organic Lavender Essential Oils.

Milo, the chap who makes it makes no cure-all claims for it, in fact he says it won't work for everybody but you can sample it in his shop for free. I did and went back 15 minutes later to buy some. It's kept in my Guitar Case. (Milo is pretty good on Violin/Fiddle too)

He has a website which advertises his products. At £4.95 for a small bottles it MAY bring some relief.

Hope it helps

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Northerner
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 10:17 AM

Hello Guest! Do seek further medical advice. Even if there is not a cure there will be treatments that can ease the pain.

There are other musical instruments besides the guitar - some of them may be easier on our hands and fingers. I am sure there is plenty advice available online and your local music shop may be able to give you advice too.

If you are keen on performing there are alternatives that don't involve musical instruments. Unaccompanied singing for example. Performance poetry is very popular, particularly among younger age groups 9plenty of workshops around that will teach you skills. There is traditional oral storytelling too. The wonderful performer Taffy Thomas had a serious stroke in his mid thirties and went on to re-invent himself and get a whole new career as a storyteller. Loads of things that you can do!!!!


Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Effsee
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 10:51 AM

If you haven't already done so, investigate Green lipped mussel products. It comes in gel, capsules and tablet forms, may be of help.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 10:53 AM

coping with impending disability require a positive open mind to new and different ideas,
and willingness to compromise and adapt.

.. likewise should apply to the good people around you.

for instance if you can no longer play trditional string instruments:

Suzuki Q Chord [ formerly known as the Omnichord ]

..and that's just one very specific example of all currently available 'new' musc tech instruments...

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 11:33 AM

What a modern 'folkie' can do with an Omnichord...

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Mr Red
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 12:07 PM

according to Steven Fry, on QI, who cannot tell a lie:

"Placebos work, even on people who know they are placebos" - make of that what you will. It applies even to proven medicines. The belief in the physician (alternative or other) is part of the treatment. And the results are rarely binary. Relief rather than cure is more normal.

I believed I wouldn't get a cold this winter and (scuse me wile I reach for a tissue)............ for the computer screen!

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Mr Red
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 12:16 PM

Mr Google has chipped-in with a suggestion. After posting here the ad shows "Joint Pain relief for the over 55s". Sorry Larry Page I don't use Google and avoid your suggestions in all cases.

But it is scary none-the-less.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 12:20 PM

Green lipped mussel works great for mild forms of arthritis in later life. It is no use at all for severe progressive arthritis in young people.

Don't fart about with this or you'll end up in a wheelchair or bedridden. See a specialist.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Mr Red
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 12:21 PM

Just had a thought. Smell (Oh OK - aroma) must be one vector for placebo. Olefactory senses are the most basic and the last to leave normally.

It looks good, smells good, and by golly it must do you good. To misquote a phrase our OPer would not have heard.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: kendall
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 01:13 PM

You have my deepest sympathy. I lost my singing voice to cancer 12 years ago, then along comes arthritis and type 2 diabetes. What next? Dandruff?

My good friend, Gordon Bok recommended Voltarin gel, and my doctor prescribed Lorazepam for pain. Both put together do not take the pain away, but they do help.
I also find that a couple of shots of Scotch help.( single malt, not that panther piss they mix with who knows what)In moderation, of course.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: gnu
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 04:40 PM

I sold my geetar and mandolin five years ago. Never could play worth squat anyway. The whistles are worthless so I keep em. I would sell my Bodhrans but NObody would buy em. >;-) Last time I played Hran when was a fancy dude from California come by a year ago last August. A mudcatter most herein know. He plied me with beverage and duped me into TRYING to play that which had near five years of dust. He enjoyed it... I cringed. As others have said above, ya just gotta work with it or around in the best way you can.

For me, it was simply giving up. Giving up instruments I wasn't good at playing was easy. Giving up playing my Hrans was PAINful. But, the meds? No way I would take the crap I was prescribed after reading about them on the internUt. My loss.

I hope you find the posts above and those to come helpful and I wish you all the luck in the world. Arthritis sucks... period.

As far as Scotch, I agree, but the moderation part doesn't fit my (old) practice schedule. >;-)

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Bert
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 05:02 PM

Try a hurdy gurdy.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Bert
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 05:05 PM

Or one of these

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Rumncoke
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 06:30 PM

It might seem drastic, but try not eating wheat.

It can reduce the inflammation in a few days if it that causing the problem.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
Date: 14 Feb 15 - 07:23 PM

As a physician I feel I have to point out that arthritis is not an exclusively an old person's disease and indeed there is a form of Arthritis called Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Best wishes to the poster who is seeking help and hope. Good luck in finding a way to continue expressing yourself musically.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 15 Feb 15 - 11:08 AM

30 years ago I told a physician I did not have time for arthritis. I know it is there and I try to eat foods that will not exacerbate it. I also take a variety of supplements, mainly types of magnesium, which have helped tremendously. Most recently, I have cured the pains in shoulders that were so bad I could not brush my hair or put items on shelves. MSM, glucosamine sulfate, magnesium malate/pectin, Zyflamend - an herbal anti-inflammatory by New Chapters.

However, at 20, I agree with the man who suggested, strongly, a specialist. ASAP. That from the woman who has something akin to contempt for most "health care professionals".

You are too young to mess around with your health. Check your diet carefully, and your activities as well as possible toxins in your environment. But find a really good specialist.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 15 Feb 15 - 04:01 PM

Think about the theremin! (whaaa??)


Dave Oesterreich

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Mr Red
Date: 16 Feb 15 - 06:24 AM

Or one of these
Wow. But I bet the pressure needed is the same as normal fretting.
If using one of those gets painful, maybe get someone to add levers long enough to reduce the pressure needed.
Given the same circumstances I would try, its the kind of wheeze I would love to have a go at. Maybe it needs one per "shape".
However doing it yourself may not be an option.

Auto harp meets guitar!

Mind you a Theremin needs no pressure. These days it should not be too heavy.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 16 Feb 15 - 06:29 AM

Well, I've been singing and playing for 8 years now with severe Osteoporosis, the disease than Johnny Cash had, poor guy needed someone just to put his capo on in the end. But he was playing right up to just a few days before he passed away. It's very painful but pain does work on the brain as a stimulant too and at least in my case has made me a much better performer, I hope to be playing as long as Cash

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Mr Red
Date: 16 Feb 15 - 06:58 AM

Chord Buddy video is much like the E-Z Chord but looks a lot flimsier. However the video does make it look like the amount of pressure needed may not be as great as I thought. It only needs to lower the strings as far as the fret, not the fretboard. $50 cf $22 but looks to have the buttons better placed for easier use of finger (rather than fingertip). I would still look to raising the buttons if things get difficult. Bluetack then glued plastic.
Chord Buddy website
Usually in the UK this translates to GBP by the time they get to these shores.
Even so worth a look. Just being able to do what you wanted to is worth spending more than these numbers IMNSHO.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Feb 15 - 07:14 AM

Mrs G swears that the local McTimoney Chiropracter does her the world of good and I can see that she suffers a lot less pain than she used to in her back and neck. Like everyone else is advising though - See a doctor first though!

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 17 Feb 15 - 06:48 AM

Agree with the others who have said that arthritis at age 20 needs specialist referral and investigation, and appropriate treatment. If you are UK-based, your GP should be able to arrange a number of blood tests which may help lead to a diagnosis. If you didn't get much change out of that first doctor, go back and see another!
As for instruments, don't throw away the guitar yet, as there may well be effective treatment available. But if you are still struggling later, consider a change of instrument to one which stresses your joints less.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Mr Red
Date: 17 Feb 15 - 03:03 PM

I spoke to Intersound Dursley Gloucs today. Very helpful folks. His first suggestion was the autoharp. Little pressure and no picking.
His second suggestion was a 3/4 guitar because to get the same tuning the tension is less, easier to fret. Third was a travel guitar, ditto.
The owner knows his guitars. The place is full of them, and a good selection of left-hand guitars (acoustic or electric). Keith Donnelly plays a small guitar that has done a lot of travelling.

They always put out our publicity for Stroud Ceilidhs. Nice guys.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 17 Feb 15 - 04:55 PM

Steve Shaw mentioned Alexander Technique above, and that may be a lot more successful and less messy, than some of the other suggestions and it will not require additional investment in instruments.

Particularly if you are "self-taught", you probably have a lot of bad habits in holding, fretting, and strumming the guitar. Beyond that, you can re-arrange things so that you use stuff that doesn't hurt, such as open notes, one and two finger chords, and such like.

Remember that Django, who was one of the best and fastest pickers, had two paralyzed fingers, and played everything, chords included, with the other two. It just takes a little planning.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
Date: 18 Feb 15 - 03:37 AM

Thank you everyone for your support. After reading all of this I am definitely going to see a specialist. My doctor was not at all helpful, she basically said "its probably arthritis, sorry nothing you can do"

I recently picked up a concertina, not sure if that is better or worse for my hands yet since I'm still quite bad. Right now its pretty much confined to my hands (especially my thumbs) but my hips have recently become more stiff than I can recall.

I live in Canada (Just about the most humid part of Canada at that) and we have a had a series of cold snaps that could be contributing. Not too happy about falling apart at age 20 but I'm trying to take it in stride. I'm definitely going to get some more professional opinions.

I cannot explain my appreciation for your concern, thank you all very much!

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Mr Red
Date: 18 Feb 15 - 04:00 AM

Go for it Pal. There are many suggestions that would not appear to interact with each other. Arthritis is a complex beastie. So simple solutions are inappropriate.

FWIW (& I am anti the whole concept) but:
The way that cannabis works as a home-spun medication is reckoned (according to august research) to be because it is seen by the body as an invader and gives the immune system something to attack, which gives your joints a rest. Arthritis is an auto-immune disease and you are attacking yourself effectively! But anything that slows the progress of what is effectively long term damage is worth a thought. But similar research shows that cannabis also doubles (over tobacco eg) the incidence of throat and mouth cancers, and is well understood to link to psychosises like paranoia in some people in the long run. In the few people I could name that is well in line with my experience of some people.

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: banjoman
Date: 18 Feb 15 - 06:26 AM

As one who has had multiple hand problems over my 70+ years, I can only add to much of what has already been said. I have had to find ways to keep playing as I can no longer play Bar Chords. It has meant increased use of capos and playing in different keys. I currently use a long neck banjo which expands the range of keys I can use. Whatever, do keep on playing at a level you feel ok with.
Best wishes

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Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Feb 15 - 08:15 PM

Subject: RE: Arthritis: The End Of Music?
From: Donuel
Date: 18 Feb 15 - 10:25 PM

If it was diabetes that caused the arthritis then treating the diabetes would help you regain facility.

Even cut tendons and nerves take a couple years to mend with the right surgery.

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