Pianist and knitter with diagnosed tendonitis

by Sarah

I've had tendonitis before (in both elbows), and that seems to be entirely over. Much to my chagrin, I developed it again in my right thumb after learning American Sign Language in 2004.

I've given Signing up, but I still play the piano professionally, and have recently returned to knitting.

My doctor has diagnosed me with DeQuervain's tendonitis (aka Blackberry thumb, Mommy wrist, and my personal favorite: washer woman's sprain). My pain levels aren't as bad as they were in my elbows, but they interfere with some aspects of daily living. Mostly I can't practice piano as much as I would like.

They've asked me to wear a thumb spica splint for a month, and take it off 4-6 times a day to stretch out my wrists. When I explained that I would need to play piano at least 2 hours a day, the therapist told me that I should wrap my thumb in Kinesia tape.

I tried playing in it for an hour. When she said "support", she meant interference! Maybe it works better with the larger joints she said she's used it with personally, but it makes it more difficult to do some technical things on the piano: reaching my thumb under my pinkie, or quickly trilling/alternating my thumb with another finger were much harder with this tape on.

I would love to be off of a daily dose of Advil (it ranges from 2 in the morning, to 3 in the morning and 3 at lunch). Right now I'm not in lots of pain, mostly dull aches, and stiffness/weakness.

My grip is noticeably weaker, and I've broken a number of things in the initial year or so that I had this.

I am a 27-year-old female, and so far the more stuff I do with my hands, the more my hands hurt the next day. My pain feedback is never immediate, and can take 24-hours to fully reach me. Excessive piano playing (3 hours a day+), longer knitting than normal (1 hour or more), or ironing are particular aggravations in my present life.

Until this weekend, I have been taking advil more or less faithfully for the last 2 years, and trying to keep track of my daily activities so as not to overload my hands' capabilities.

What should I do to relieve the pain without incurring more pain and stiffness? I have a lot of gigs in the next month, and it will be at least a month, if not 2 before I can clear my schedule sufficiently to take advantage of the complete rest that my therapist seems to think is the only cure.


Joshua Answers:

Hi Sarah.

Great. I've never head 'washer woman's sprain'. I wonder what the historical relevance of that is....

So....the Tendonitis in your elbows never went away. The pain did, but the structural changes didn't. And your body has continued to adapt and compensate for the piano playing, etc.

And now your thumb hurts.

And, Rest isn't likely to help. It's predictable that if you took a year off and just laid on the couch watching tv and having a servant do everything so you didn't have to use your hands, you'd start playing piano and sooner than later, the pain would be back.

Rest does not cure tendonitis.

Since you have a lot at stake with getting rid of this pain, I'm going to jump right to it.

Get my Reversing Wrist Tendonitis ebook

It has everything you need, and I can't help you any better here, and certainly not any faster.

I suggest you get it, get started on it for 4-7 days to get some experience with it, and then check in and I'll fine tune what you're doing a little bit.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.
And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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