Tagged: ,

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 16 total)
  • Author
  • #5977 Reply

    Brad Stevens

    I have RA and have had to contend with periods of joint pain for years in my lower limbs, my neck, and my hands, due to degenerative arthritis. Now, I find that keeping my elbow down and in gets to be a problem that limits my practice and playing endurance. I can work with that, but one of the things that is getting a little worse, as in occurring more often, is that my hand will just relax its grip on things — a glass, a book, a sheet of paper, my bow. So far, I’ve dropped the first three but never completely lost the grip on my bow.

    Any suggestions?

    My wife, who also has RA, and I were just talking about trying the Bow Mate just to see if it may relieve some of the lateral pressure on the index finger. Or at least help her keep a better hand shape when the pain comes into the bow hand.

    #6163 Reply

    Three Chord Monte

    Hey, Brad, I can sympathize with you.

    I’m relatively new to violin but I’ve been a pretty serious guitar player for years. I’m sixty-six and have noticed the fingers on my left hand are stiff and take quite a bit of warming up. I recently saw a video of a guitar player, can’t remember exactly who it was…but it was a famous player, who is experiencing the same situation and he even runs warm water over his hands. I’ve never worried too much about warming up and stretching my hands and fingers but now I’m being much more conscious of it. Once my hand is warmed up it seems fine. Don’t know if taking extra care to warm up your muscles and joints will make a difference for you but I guess it’s worth a try.

    Once my hand is warmed up it seems fine.

    Not the same problem that you’re dealing with but I suppose they both come from the same source…dealing with aging. Whoever said, “Getting old isn’t for sissies,” knew what they were talking about.

    Actually, I’m really fortunate to be blessed with relatively good health and I’m enjoying this stage of my life more than any other. I stay as busy as I’ve ever been but it’s doing things I want to do. I’ve been performing off and on professionally as a singer/songwriter type guitarist for more than forty years. Now I’m also learning to play violin, mandolin, octave mandolin, tenor banjo, tenor guitar, dobro and piano. I’ve even built a guitar and two mandolins.

    Interesting story about how I got started working on fiddle, mandolin, octave mandolin, tenor banjo and tenor guitar. My father-in-law who is ninety-two inherited a 1923 Paramount Tenor Banjo some ago and I’ve had my eye on it for several of years. He recently gave it to me and when I started working on it I realized that it’s tuned to perfect fifths only at a different pitch than the violin (it’s tuned C, G, D, A). The tenor guitar is tuned exactly the same as the tenor banjo. And then the mandolin is tuned exactly the same as the violin and the octave mandolin is tuned the same as the mandolin only an octave lower. So basically I’m learning five instruments that all have the same fingerboard. In essence I’m learning five instruments for the price of one…though each one is different in technique.

    As long as I can continue learning I think I’ll be happy. When I can no longer do that I’ll know I’m getting old.

    #6210 Reply


    Hey Brad

    I’ve heard that one approach to dealing with this is to consider paraffin bath for your hands. You can find them on Amazon or, I”m sure, other suppliers for heath products. In any case, you might take a look at:


    I haven’t used one yet, but I fear they’re in my future since I have the beginnings of RA as well.

    #6368 Reply

    Chris Guleff

    Good topic!!! I’m 68 and have both arthritis and carpal tunnel and find playing the violin and viola exacerbate the pain; One thing that has helped and has given me more hope has been working with alternative healing practitioners — acupuncture, massage, chi gong, energy healers and the like — it helps . . . it really does!

    #6556 Reply


    Fish oil helps as well as grapeseed extract!

    #6763 Reply


    I think I’m developing arthritis at the tender age of 42!!! My joints in my fingers hurt and it is so frustrating! I haven’t been diagnosed but figure that is what it is. I do so many things with with hands, I’m a little afraid of having it so young. I try to stay relaxed because tensing up does not help! Hard to stay relaxed when you have small hands and forever struggle to reach notes with 4th finger. I still wonder about getting a 7/8 size violin. Might make a difference.

    Best wishes to all.

    #7586 Reply

    Brad Stevens

    Thanks for the discussion. I’m dealing with the inflammation of RA as well as the degeneration of OA. And there’s the injury from the overuse of a two pound driving hammer about 17 years ago and a crunchy right wrist. I’ve lost much fluidity of motion in that wrist.

    I wore a Hand-Eze warming glove for a few years — I think that is what it was called — but now the joints can’t bear the pressure that used to feel like good support.

    I actually bought a paraffin bath for my wife, but she’s not used it yet. I may bust it out and take it over.

    I was an art major at first and used to do calligraphy, but now I can barely read my own handwriting. I used to worry about carpal tunnel issues, but so far that hasn’t reared its ugly head. I try to warm up but can’t play for very long even when I do.

    I find my 15.75 inch viola to be easier on my fingers but harder on my neck and demanding more tension in my elbow because of reaching farther out the neck while turning my hand, too. My violin that is most comfortable when taking it all into consideration, is a very old instrument that is actually slightly shorter than 14 inches on the back.

    It concerns me most that my bow hand fatigues as I compensate for the pain in my wrist from lack of cartilage and the almost permanent “sprain” where my right thumb meets the radius, from the driving hammer. My joints are only just beginning to shoe any sign of swelling, but the ring finger of my left hand has begun to overlap the middle finger when I open my hand.

    Anyway, I don’t just sit and complain and do try to press on, but I am looking for anything to alleviate the pain, regain the flexibility, and increase my endurance.

    #8859 Reply

    This is a great topic! I’ve had to deal with degenerative arthritis in my neck and carpal tunnel, and there are times when it’s just too painful to play. For the neck I have an at home traction machine that helps to relieve the worst flare ups. With carpal, I tend to just heat/ice and rest.

    #9116 Reply

    Brad Stevens

    With a few days lately of more rest, I’m finding that when I do play I can play a little longer. Trouble is, I have to do more than play my violin. You mention traction, and it does help if I cup and lock my fingertips and sort of apply isometric traction to my wrist for a few seconds.

    My rheumatologist has referred me to a specialist to take a look at my wrist and see if anything can be done.

    #13047 Reply

    mary robinson

    I find that yoga helps and I take brakes from practicing and wash dishes under warm water — and realize this helps too.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 16 total)
Reply To: Playing with arthritis
Your information: