Topic: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

I have been having a scary pain lately in my right thumb, right on the the last knuckle where the thumbrest hits.  I started noticing this problem about a month ago while playing tenor sax.  I've been playing sax for about 4 years now and have never had this problem till now.

I use a FHRED for playing oboe, and have begun to feel the pain in my thumb even with the FHRED!  (Maybe because of the sax?)  I am playing a solo in a week, and have been asked to stand--- I hate using the FHRED to stand, so I practiced the short piece a few times without the FHRED.  That was over a week ago and the pain is still there.

It feels like a bad bruise, right on the joint. In addition, it appears that there is even a little bump there that feels like bone!

I have had slowly progressing pain in my joints in general over the last 15 years; I take glucosamine chondroite (or whatever you call it) that seems to be helping other joints.

Are there any musician/doctors in the house who can tell me what this might be?  The bump under the surface isn't on my left thumb.  It's almost as though the bone got squishy and is being lumped up under the pressure!

Darlene

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Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

Darlene,

Check out Mike Benthin's MUTS. It takes all the weight off the thumb.

Michael Benthin
24 Poor Farm Rd
Pennington,  NJ 08534
1- 609-737-3867

Best,

john

Best,

john

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Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

Darlene,

I assume you use a neck strap with the tenor sax.  You could also use a neck strap with your oboe which would allow you to stand and move around.  Do you have an oboe that is heavier than most oboes?  That could be causing stress on your thumb. 

I have been using a neck strap for a few years now for both oboe and EH because I have a Loree Royale and a Chauvet EH.  Both are heavier than most oboes/EH and over the years I started getting a slight tremor in my right arm.  Prior to that, I too would have pain but mostly in the right wrist.   The neck strap allowed me to stand and move while I played.  Also, I modified a single neck strap to have the 2 lengths of cording to accomodate both the oboe and EH.  Seems like my hands & fingers are more relaxed now that I don't have the weight on my thumb.  It also seems as though a combination of extra weight on the thumb/wrist and tensing up with difficult technical passages can cause stress.  These are just my observations... I'm no expert in this.

I'm not a medical person but the bump you describe sounds like a ganglion cyst.  I sometimes get that too but it comes and goes.  Other people I know who have had them say the cysts seem to show up with there's stress in the area and they never do anything about it.  Others have had surgery on them.  Before you consider that, I think I would try to find a way to ease the weight off your thumb.  Hope this helps.

Last edited by jlanier2001 (2006-09-06 18:55:01)

Oboe, English horn:  Amarillo Symphony, Chamber Music Amarillo, Amarillo Opera, Shepherd's Trio
Blog:  http://janet.thelaniers.net/
Composition & Arranging Website:  http://janetlanier.com
"Ever notice how orchestra pits shrink through the run of a show?"

Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

Actually, I am using something to take the weight off my thumb--- the FHRED.  I am wondering if the tenor sax, even with the neck strap, is getting to be too much.  Maybe I need a SAMI?

Getting old is NO FUN.

Darlene

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Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

Oh dear. The FHRED should be taking nearly all the weight off you thumb. Perhaps you are putting strain on your thumb without realizing it? aka... unconscious Death grip. Have you tried making sure you hands are always relaxed with little exertion from your fingers? Using a FHRED you shouldn't have any thumb exertion.

There are teachers of the Alexander technique that specialize in locating trouble spots in posture and grip, perhaps you can find someone in your area that can help pin point your problem?
Here's some AT listings:
http://www.alexandertechnique.com/teacher/northamerica/#other%20usa
http://www.ati-net.com/list_members_states.php?StateProvince=MD

Best Regards,
Stephen Kaupiko
Los Angeles, CA

Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

Darlene,  I too use a FHRED - and probably for nearly 9 years now and EVERY time I play.  Any neckstrap for me is just not enough support.  In agreement with an earlier email, the FHRED post should be holding ALL the weight of the oboe.  If I don't use it, I almost instantly feel discomfort in my right thumb joint closest to my hand - which is not the same joint as you describe. 

I constantly have to remind myself to relax my hands and shoulders.  (Is this more psychological?! I would not be surprise to confirm that!).  This "death grip" that that Stephen Kaupiko mentioned in the email just ahead of mine - LOL - I love that phrase!  It ties in with what I heard on TV the other day during a brief news report on the tragic death of Steve Irwin, "Crocodile Hunter."  Why are there thrill seekers and why do they do these scarey things?  It immediately made me think of us double reed players!  What we do on stage - - Living on the edge and going for the rush!  We must also be "thrill seekers."

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Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

I don't think using an excessively firm ("death") grip is a conscious action -- just another expression of tension in our bodies as we do many things in life (including making music). I have used this exact phrase in my presentations and am convinced it is a form of overuse.

It takes conscious effort to learn how to play "relaxed" -- using only the needed amount of muscle tension to get a job done. This is a trial and error process, but it's worth it -- just as is learning how to relax one's throat and neck muscles so the airflow is not constricted.

Now as to the pain in your outer thumb joint -- it seounds like an inbflammatory process (I hesitate to use the term arthritis since I don't know your age or other details). A ganglion of this joint is quite uncommon, but inflammation in the joint can cause swelling to increase and decrease as the process changes. For a more exact diagnosis, please see your health professional, and bring your oboe with you.

Bill

Dr. Bill Dawson, bassoonist and teacher
IDRS medical consultant
Past President, Performing Arts Medicine Assoc.
Author of "Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician's Guide to Playing Healthy"

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Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

Thanks for your insights, everyone!  I like the "death grip" phrase--- and yes, I think I do sometimes at partly negate the benefit of the FHRED by excess finger stress.  I am almost 46, and I don't think arthritis or some other similar issue  is out of the question, since I have pain in a lot of other joints as well (but being pretty sedentary, I don't care about them so much!  Haha).

If this latest problem doesn't clear off, it may indeed be time for a trip to the doctor..

Darlene

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Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

Are your instruments in good order? Maybe you are having to use the 'unconscious Death grip' to overcome leaking pads & mal-adjustment problems.

'.......but being pretty sedentary'.

I'm not a medical person, just a woodwind repairman & amateur contra, bassoon & bari sax player,  but I find that getting plenty of exercise & having a good diet helps joint problems.

I use SAMI with my bari. (both sitting & standing) - it removes a great deal of weight from my body & helps to reduce tension). I don't find it works as well for the bassoon though - it's a question of the balance point.

Hope you manage to sort the problem soon.

Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

This is a little off the topic at hand, but since someone mentioned taking glucosamine...I took glucosamine religiously twice daily for a month at the suggestion of several colleagues and found it gave amazing relief for the arthritis I experience in the middle joints of my fingers.  Then I started having some swelling in my neck.  To make a long story quite short, turns out I'm allergic to the glucosamine.  Does anyone know of another supplement that is similar?  I hate to take advil, tylenol, etc. everyday and like to find something "natural."

Thanks!

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Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

57 year old male with a lot of arthritis couldn't lift left arm and had a lot of pain in right thumb.  Started taking apple cider vinegar 3x daily and in 3 weeks pain was 90% gone in arm and finger and can lift my arm fine now.  I don't take any meds of any kind.  It works.  Best to you.

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Re: serious pain in thumb joint-even with FHRED!

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