Topic: shoulder/forearm pain

I have had problems for the past 3+ years with my right shoulder when I play oboe for extended periods of time.  It's a hot", constant ache that is caused from my shoulder being up to play oboe.  It does not happen when I play EH or bassoon.   I've had a couple orthopedic surgeons look at it and had 2 cortisone shots.  It feels close to my rotator cuff but that's been checked and is fine (although I've strained it in the past).  I'd have an arthroscope MRI done too but that only concluded that I have a small tear in my labrum but apparently that's not where my pain is coming from.    Occaisionally I've have painful nerve tingling down the right forearm as well.   A nerve conduction study showed nothing abnormal.   Any suggestions/advice?   I'm an oboe grad student and would really not enjoy switching careers at this point!!

Allison

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Re: shoulder/forearm pain

I play bassoon. I have same problem with my shouler as you said. Especially every morining, I feel bad for my shoulder. I think we should do some sport,like frisbee which is good for us because we can make our head up to catch frisbee.

Last edited by xin1986 (2011-08-20 17:51:54)

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Re: shoulder/forearm pain

Allison, it would be helpful to know exactly what diagnoses you have been given - and why the injections were performed. Your symptoms are consistent with muscle strain from prolonged contraction of the shoulder muscles while playing. Several questions come to mind: Are you taking proper breaks during playing - 5 minutes out of every 30? Hve you tried oboe supports wuch as FHRED, WRIST, or MUTS? - these reduce the amount of muscle effort needed to hold the instrument. Finally, are your shoulder (and other) muscles excessively tense while paying? - this could add to the strain. If muscle strain is indeed the problem, ask your orthopaedist if a plysical therapy program to strengthen them might be useful.

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: shoulder/forearm pain

Thanks Dr. Dawson.   Doctors I have seen have considered rotator cuff tendonitis, a torn labrum, and cervial vertibrae breakdown (which an xray/mri did show).   I have tried supports and even a neck strap while playing oboe.   I have also done physical therapy and iontopheresis on the shoulder.  I do know that my shoulders are tense while I play and I get regular massages to help loosen them.   The strain on the shoulders sounds much more plausible and manageable than what other doctors have tried.

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Re: shoulder/forearm pain

Allison, might I humbly suggest to look into Alexander Technique?
(This is not a sales pitch) Just that it's my feeling that everyone will profit from AT lessons, especially people with pain caused by muscle tension.
I know it helped me a lot with back and knee problems.

Re: shoulder/forearm pain

Allison, I'm intrigued by a couple of things; 1) you say the pain is not present when you play english horn, or bassoon. Why do you think that is? (could it be related to air pressure? something else?) 2) you say it is "caused from my shoulder being up to play oboe". What do you mean by "my shoulder being up"? A shoulder (whatever you may perceive that to be) does not need to be in any special "up" place to play the oboe--it simply should be at neutral, which is a point that is related to the central axis of the body, and feels completely free of tension. I agree with Shelby that a somatic discipline, such as Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, or Body Mapping, should help you identify postural issues that may be the root of the problem. Best of luck,

Stephen Caplan, DMA
Professor of Oboe, UNLV
Author, Oboemotions: What Every Oboe Player Needs to Know about the Body
www.oboemotions.com

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Re: shoulder/forearm pain

oboe88 wrote:

Thanks Dr. Dawson.   Doctors I have seen have considered rotator cuff tendonitis, a torn labrum, and cervial vertibrae breakdown (which an xray/mri did show).   I have tried supports and even a neck strap while playing oboe.   I have also done physical therapy and iontopheresis on the shoulder.  I do know that my shoulders are tense while I play and I get regular massages to help loosen them.   The strain on the shoulders sounds much more plausible and manageable than what other doctors have tried.

yes massage and physical therapy is the best thing but it always depend on the doctor's suggestions too because sometimes it could be danger for us without doctor permission dont go for it.........

http://www.marketplacewellnesscenter.com/2011/07/26/marketplace-physical-therapy-corona-gives-four-strategies-to-treat-osteoporosis/

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Re: shoulder/forearm pain

I find myself thinking the same thing Mr. Caplan expressed.... Perhaps when practicing it could be beneficial to do so in front of a mirror? There's no helpful reason for the shoulders to creep toward the ears while playing oboe, but I can't help but notice that many of my colleagues in music school have this problem.

I've been studying off and on with a wonderful Alexander Technique teacher for almost 5 years now, and while it is definitely not any type of cure, it can provide wonderful insight on what we are doing with ourselves without being aware of it. Most of my orthopedic issues have been managed if not completely resolved by simply being mindful of my physical self and it's relationship to my mental state. Maybe it could be worth investigating alongside treatment? Sometimes there's irregularities in posture, and sometimes there's just unhelpful thinking regarding your own body - A.T. helps identify what isn't working well and develop more helpful notions of body mechanics.

I've also found that the Alexander Technique mentality is very helpful when applied to physical therapy :-) Makes P.T. much more effective, at least for me.

Best of luck!

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