Injured woodwinds musician who needs help with shooting wrist and arm pain!

by Bill
(Buffalo, NY)

I am a professional woodwinds player looking for a proper diagnosis for the shooting arm pain and symptoms I am experiencing. I typically play saxophone but about three months ago I accepted a job playing in the orchestra for a musical that requires me to play multiple flutes as well as clarinet.

Saxophone requires a neck strap resulting in little to no weight supported by the thumb (right arm in particular) compared to flute and clarinet in which both are played with the weight of the instrument almost entirely supported by the thumb on the right hand.

When rehearsals began for the show I suddenly started playing clarinet and flute for about eight hours a day and by the second and third day into rehearsals I started to experience some shooting pain along the tendons of my right arm starting at the wrist and ending at the halfway point to the elbow.

The pain feels like an electric shock and is very sharp and painful. The pain is always on the inside of the right arm never the knuckle side. I only feel it when I extend my arm out whether I'm flipping the page on the stand in front of me or I reach down to grab or set down and instrument (to the right of my chair). It doesn't matter if I reach up, down, forward or out to the side.

Extending out that right arm while playing clarinet and flute will cause it. It'll be fine and won't occur unless I've played recently. No pain in the mornings or if it's been an hour or so since I've played.

I was to take three weeks off for our holiday break and didn't play at all which I thought would help. I've been taking Aleve to reduce inflammation since thanksgiving and thought that surely after taking three weeks off I'd be better.

Two days back into the show the shooting pain has came back with a vengeance it seems. I've started holding the bell of the clarinet between my knees to play and take the weight off my thumb but that hasn't seemed to help because playing it still aggravates and causes that shooting pain. Since the pain has started up again I am now feeling it run up
into my thumb as well as up my arm. Extending out my arm will cause the shock to permeate on both sides of the wrist.

I am afraid that this is becoming more of a serious problem that will be very difficult to recover from and or reverse. I am not sure what the correct diagnosis is or what else I can do to counter the problem.

Have you ever come across people with these symptoms? Any help would be highly appreciated.

Thank you!


Joshua Answers:

Hello Bill.

Hello Pain Causing Dynamic!

Ok, so, you were fine and never had any similar problem in the area, then you started playing flutes and clarinet a lot more than usual and now have tendon pain that starts at the wrist and goes halfway up to the elbow. And it occurs as a shooting pain.

Sounds like Wrist Tendonitis to me. Would I call that a diagnosis? No, since I can't diagnose, plus, it doesn't really matter what you call it. You have Wrist Tendonitis Symptoms, and symptoms show up for specific reasons.

I suspect the 'shooting pain' is a combination of nutritional deficiency (see: Magnesium for Tendonitis) and intense spasm of the forearm muscles (spacticity). Which basically means that your muscles are locked TOO TIGHT and can't work very well and that results in pain and problem.


1. What else does the pain feel like? Just shooting pain, or is there constant ache or pain? Details details details.

2. What have you done about this so far aside from adjusting how you play?

Joshua Answers:

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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Apr 23, 2014
Accordion playing causing ring/long finger to not work properly
by: IrishJ

hi I have been playing Irish button accordion semi professionally for 8 years. I am 27 years old 5 months ago I was practising alot with a certain tune that I was struggling with for a few days. I was doing manual work in the days and practising when I got home.

I have had little pains in my hands that I have ignored for a little while as its never really affected my playing I woke up the morning after work and all this practice to find that i couldn't use my ring finger as I used to be able to it was stiff when I played I couldn't roll from index to long to ring finger like I could before it slowly got worse as i didn't stop playing i had shows to do.

As the shows went on it got worse and worse now it shakes if I put it in the playing position and i have to physically think about moving it on the buttons. There is pain in the dip and pip joints and if i apply and pressure like pushing down a button it bends at the dip join and the rest of the finger stays straight if I use it the whole hand goes stiff and I cant move the fingers.

Now I have noticed its moving into my long finger same thing when I try to play also if I use the ring finger my index goes straight out stiff and the others go stiff like they dont want to move. it only really starts this when I play accordion any other time I am OK but if I curl my fingers into playing position on a flat service and try to drum them it happens again I have been through physiotherapy and had numerous Anti-inflammatories nothing has worked my next appointment is to have tests done i.e. nerve test and MRI scan.

Do you know what might be wrong with me and how to fix this problem as I don't want it to stop me playing for good


Joshua Comments:

Hello J.

Do I know what's going on? Yes. The 'Tendonitis Dynamic' is going on.

See the short conversation at the start of this thread. Everything applies to you.

YOu don't have (didn't when you wrote this, anyway) shooting wrist and arm pain, but you have finger pain and dysfunction. Both of those scenario's are caused by the Pain Causing Dynamic in the whole area, and specifically, tight muscles and connective tissue and inflammation in the forearm.

There's a little more too it, of course, but that's the basics of it. The muscles that control that finger are too tight, spastic, and confused. Your muscles aren't functioning properly so your finger is not functioning properly.

Give us an update on how you are now, and we'll go from there.

RELATED: Professional Guitar Player With Mild Pain In The Wrist

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