Topic: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Hello to all,

I have been recently diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my left hand (I play the oboe).  I won't go into all the details unless someone is really curious.  I am hoping to schedule the release surgery sometime in the next few weeks so I can have the Christmas vacation to recover.  Thank goodness I only need to have one hand worked on, and it's not my dominant hand.  I have talked to several doctors and nurses about recovery time, and they have all told me that I should be able to play again in 4-6 weeks.  I know they know their stuff, but of course none of them play the oboe, so these are only estimates. 

I'm wondering if anyone in the forum has had this surgery performed, and could tell me a little about their personal recovery process? 

Thank you,
Claire Williamson

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Dear Claire,

I'm so sorry you have carpal tunnel syndrome.  Although it is not the diagnosis for MY problem, I know it can be very painful.  I have played with the FHRED device on both oboe and English horn for nearly 10 years now and it has saved me.  My problem is my right hand and wrist.  I DEFINITELY recommend that you purchase this aid as I believe it would be a great help in your recovery and something you may wish to use regularly - even if only in your practice sessions.  The only thing you really have to get used to - is that you will never be able to cue with your oboe if you use the one which offers the most support and sits on the chair - the one which I use.

I'm sure you know that all surgeries are risky.  There is no guarantee for perfect results.  A flute-friend of mine had both wrists done.  One surgery worked out great, and the other gave her trouble for months and months. 

The good news about using the FHRED device is that it will take ALL the weight of the oboe off your left and right hands.  Oh!  You'll need to have a thumb rest with a hole in it (not all oboes have this kind of thumb rest but they can be purchased and installed) so that the FHRED can be attached. 

Please feel free to email me privately if I can be of any more help. 

www.quodlibet.com/FhredGen.htm  - Try calling and speaking to them personally.  The designer is an engineer who invented it for his daughter - another oboist suffering with pain in her hands.

Best wishes, Dear!

Marsha   smile    marshaburkett@earthlink.net

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Hi Marsha,
I have considered the FHRED.  I think my problem is more grip related than a weight of the instrument issue, but I suppose any stress you can take off the hands is beneficial.  Which model do you have?  Standard or Pro? 
Thanks,
Claire

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Hi Claire... I use the FHRED too and am a big fan.  I have a pro model for my oboe and a standard one for my English horn.  Either one is just fine- the difference is that the pro model can be collapsed somewhat for easier storage, and doesnt have a nut sticking out the side for adjustment.  If you want to collapse the standard model, you lose your setting and have to fiddle with it every time(except on EH- the EH FHRED is so short anyway you can just "set it and forget it").

Last edited by oboe1960 (2006-11-18 22:01:43)

Darlene

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

As a hand surgeon who has performed hundreds (? thousands) of carpal tunnel releases, including nearly a hundred on nstrumentalists, I have found patients able to return to playing well before 4-6 weeks. The postoperative bandaging and splinting should allow the fingers to bend (flex) at least 60 degrees at the knuckles closest to the palm. I've encouraged finger motions on the first day of surgery, while protecting the incision in the palm. It's possible to hold the oboe even with the original bandage, but certainly by the time the stitches are removed at about 10 days.

Since the amount of force neded to hold the instrument has not changed with the surgery, I see no need to use the FHRED postoperatively after carpal tunnel surgery. It has its uses for other problems, though.

Above all, make sure your surgeon knows you are an oboist, and even bring your instrument to the office and have hom or her watch you hold it. Express your desire to return to playing as soon as it's safe.

Good luck --

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: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

also Claire, fortunately your problem is in your left hand, not the right.  I think most of us use the FHRED to alleviate the pain in our right thumbs and wrists.  You probably wouldn't need one at all, since your left hand doesn't really support the instrument.  However, if you ever run into right-hand problems, I would keep the FHRED in mind!

Darlene

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

I have carpal tunnel and I wrote up a little blog about my journey with my hands this last year and a review of the new incredible thumb rest I've been using that has made all of the difference.

Read it here:
http://everythingoboe.blogspot.com/

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Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Claire - I had surgery in both hands (separate times) to release carpal tunnel - this was after getting steroid shots (up to 4, each hand), which released for a number of months (up to a year in one case). Surgery was the last resort. When I finally had the surgery, I was able to play the bassoon within a week to 10 days with no problems. I was very fortunate to have a great orthopedic surgeon here in NYC - Dr. Tang. Good luck! Jim

James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi  "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe

Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

From my years as a hand surgeon, Jim's experience is typical. Crucial is good communication with your surgeon.

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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