View Full Version : Arthritis and Strings..

12-30-2010, 08:55 AM
This is just to ask if there is any others out there that play any string instruments, that also suffer from arthritis? Many of you know that I have some medical issues, but over the past several months, some are going away, and more and more going away every day. Arthritis however is here to stay for me. My weight loss has lessened the pain I deal with in my back, shoulder and hip arthritis, but my hands, wrists, and elbow not so much. I used to play bass, and guitar years ago but got more and more challenging due to the arthritis, which is one of the things that led me to the Uke. I found I can play the uke still because the reach isn't so challenging as the guitar. I have enjoyed it for the past couple years tremendously. However, after getting my daughter, whom also plays guitar her Les Paul for Christmas, has stricken the axe bug in me again. I went to my doctor and asked if I have any hope in ever really playing the guitar again. She told me most certainly, and it could do nothing but increase the usefulness of my hands. She suggested I play as much as the pain will allow. Well, I decided to do that. The wife just bought me my own Les Paul now, and I am back in the saddle again. I have to admit, I have lost allot of the years of not playing, but allot of it is coming back to me fairly quickly. I have to modify some of the chording, just as I did with the Uke tho which is just fine really. I hope to get better and better and able to play like I used to. I have to give allot of this thanks to the Uke, which kept me playing.

Don't get me wrong, I am not, nor never giving up the Uke, but now they will have to share my time, and get along. I noticed "Iz" giving the Les Paul some pretty mean looks on the stand the other day, lol.. But, after picking him up and doing some "Iz" playin, he was just fine, and now knows I'm not putting him in the closet, hehheh..

I guess the question really is tho, does anyone else play that suffers from arthritis? And how to they cope, and deal with it.. ?

mm stan
12-30-2010, 12:36 PM
Aloha Bruddah Tudorp,
I suffer from the same with stiff fingers, they say the more you use them the better they get...but that's seem not the case for me.....Congrats on you new LP, did your wife surprise you just as you did for your
daughter....Gotta admit you've got one good wife brother.....You lucky guy!!! I guess your daughter has passed that contagious guitar bug back to you....Have fun and enjoy!!! Thanks for sharing your story!!
May You and Your family Have a Happy New Year!!! Hopefully 2011 will be a better year for us healthwise... Take Care and Keep Warm! God Bless, Stan

12-30-2010, 12:45 PM
Hi Tudorp, While I'm ok at the moment ive had arthritis twice so far in my life (rheumatoid they think) it seems to strike for a year or so, nearly kill me, then let me go (so far anyway, i count myself lucky i get breaks).. Your doctor sounds just like mine, seemed to promote pain! (it does work though so will let him off) Sorry that I cant answer your question, but in a way you have helped answer some of mine.. you playing through it gives me some hope.. I didnt play any intrument last time it hit, but hopefully can try next time. Dont know how to put this but good luck on your future health. Joe

12-30-2010, 12:58 PM
Hi Tudorp, I have arthritis but it isn't really that bad, mostly stiffness that makes it hard to use one finger to hold down two strings. I am also being treated for carpel tunnel so my PT guy says, "don't screw around with nerve damage" and has me figuring out how long I can play before I have symptoms and quitting before it starts to bother me.

12-30-2010, 02:08 PM
Well, my Dr isn't "pro" pain, but knows that it is part of life for some people. She is awesome, and I have been under her care for some time. But, not to sound like a tough guy, but I deal with pain on a daily basis. In fact, they had me connected to some scopes that measures pain a few years ago, because I was near stoke level due to it, but never showed it, or complained about pain. My doctors then were shocked wondering how I was even being able to talk. Most people with the pain readings that I was showing normally can only grown, and roll around. My pain tollerence is very high. Not that I like it, or its any less, it's just that I mentally block it out, and deal with it, especially if there is something that needs to be done. Not bragging, because that can also be a bad thing. But my doctor knows this about me. In fact, she knows me very well on a personal level because she had gotten pretty close to my family. But, she just shakes her head at my pain levels most the time, lol. I have days that are worse than others, but I cope. And she (Dr) told me to keep playing, through the pain as long as I can deal with it, because it will keep my hands from getting more stove up (stiff). As long as they can move, keep moving them. So, I am doing that now. Hurts like hell, and it probably shows in my playing, but who cares, Im still gonna play. I am too old now to care if I can jam out like I used to be able to when I was young, hahhah..

12-30-2010, 02:14 PM
Stan brudda,

Yeah, my wife is a keeper. My LP wasn't a total suprize. I was playing the daughters, and the wife saw in my face the look I had when I was a kid playing. She asked if I wanted to play again. I always played a strat, but always wanted a Les Paul myself. I told her I wish I could... She told me she had some money put up for a rainy day, and she wanted me to have my LP that I always wanted too. So, yeah, I got it. Actually, I sat down and talked to the daughter. I asked her if she wanted her black LP, or would she prefer a different color. She said she loved her LP. I told her I was gonna get me one too, and I really liked the satin black too and was gonna get one like hers. So, we can either have two of the same guitar, or if she would rather have a different color, here is her chance, I will buy one any color she wanted, and swap her for the satin black one. She thought about it for awhile, and kept looking back at a vintage cherry burst les paul in her guitar magazine. She came to me and asked if it was ok, and the offer was still on the table, she really loves the black, but also really loves that vintage cherry sunburst. I said wow, my 2nd choice, hahhah.. So, I bought her the Cherry sunburst, and took over her satin black. So, we both happy campers now, and jam together which is priceless to me at many levels..

Life is good brudda.

Doug W
12-30-2010, 02:43 PM
I have had a case of tendonitis in my left wrist for years and doctors tell me that they see arthritis in that wrist also in x-rays. I don't play my guitars or mandolin much anymore. The uke seems to be a lot easier on the wrist.

The thing that seems to help lessen my pain is exercise. I had enough of that at work today so I am going to sit on the couch and play the uke.

12-30-2010, 02:58 PM
No, I admire your perserverance with it.. I hated the idea that it influenced my life so much. I was just remembering the physiotherapy I went through felt like torture at the time, pushing joint movement limits to my max I have never felt such pain. i realise now that it was for the better as you say if you dont move it it seizes for good.. I was 7/8 years old the 1st time and 14/15 the second (25 now) so my views are perhaps skewed because of that.. I appreciate it now though as my joint damage has been minimalised, im just ssllooww in cold and damp conditions (more often than I would like due to living in the UK!) Your post reminded me that I am healthy at the moment and should make more of the 'todays'.. day to day i tend to forget what can easily be took from me. Thanks

12-30-2010, 03:10 PM
Tudorp... sorry for your challenge. I share your pain. I've gone to Koolau Golds for the same reason. Very flexible, soft and easy on the fingers. A couple of my ukes.. particularly my Pono and Mele have such great and easy action/playability and that helps a lot too. But Koolau Golds work well for me.

12-30-2010, 05:22 PM
Yeah tudorp I can relate to the high tolerance for pain. I've always felt like I was a wimp about pain but dentists were always telling me how little reaction I had to stuff that should have put me through the ceiling. The surgeon that did my bypass just shook his head when I told him I was driving, and moving into a new house, four days after coming home from the hospital after having my chest cracked open.

Unfortunately, that kind of pain tolerance is not really a good thing. Pain is your body trying to tell you, "stop doing that!" so I've beat my body up pretty bad by ignoring it. I messed up my lower back pretty badly by pushing hard on a poorly fitting eliptical glider in spite of the warning pains when I was rehabbing from the bypass, so now anything more strenuous than long walks is pretty much out for me.

I guess I've finally gotten smarter because when my wrist started bothering me I backed off the daily practice on the bass and got a UBASS for when I need to do stretchy stuff.


12-31-2010, 01:34 AM
Unfortunately, that kind of pain tolerance is not really a good thing. Pain is your body trying to tell you, "stop doing that!" so I've beat my body up pretty bad by ignoring it.

Thats so true Phart. I keep telling my kids that, because they have the same high tolerence. My Dad did too, so I guess it's genetic. It's funny, because I have three sisters, and my oldest, and my baby sister do too, and tough as nails. Maybe even more so than myself. But my 2nd sister has has no tolerence at all, and acts like she is dying, and very dramatic when she get something as minor as a paper cut, lol..

But yes, I ignored pain all my life when I shouldn't have. I am one of those that has to be on a death bed in order to admit I have an issue. One of the reasons I got in the condition I am now though. Pain DOES serve a purpose. Like you said, it's your bodies defense for something going wrong, and it's way to tell you to check this out, or to "Stop doing that...". They wanted to sever the nerves to my right leg several years ago because my nerves are crushed on my right leg from an accedent. I told them "Hell no.". My leg is pretty much just a dead leg, and it's funny, because it always feels like an ice pick being shoved into my theigh. Either that, or some days fees like it's on fire. BUT, if someone jabs me in the leg, I don't feel a thing.. Go figure. But at any rate, the pain keeps me concious to protect it, rather than forgetting it's there, and getting an injury that I can't feel causing bigger problems.

I preach to my kids not to abuse their body like their Dad did just because they can ignore pain. Because it does catch up with you someday, and use myself as an example. Don't do allot of good, but I preach to them about it anyway..

12-31-2010, 01:53 AM
Eric Clapton has arthritis. So, you are in good company. I am very fortunate when it comes to the dexterity that I enjoy. I count my blessings daily and my wife is at the head of my list.

01-03-2011, 05:26 PM
Eric Clapton has arthritis. So, you are in good company. I am very fortunate when it comes to the dexterity that I enjoy. I count my blessings daily and my wife is at the head of my list.

Just spotted your posting again, hope your feeling better, great to have you back!!! keep well.