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Thread: Stress and injury related to keyboard playing

  1. #1
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    North Carolina, USA

    Stress and injury related to keyboard playing

    I have recently developed two painless ganglion cysts, one on the back of each hand near the wrist. I have read about them and learned that they are not dangerous and, in fact, are best left alone; it is usually not worth the risk of nerve or tendon damage from surgery unless they are painful or problematic because of their location.

    However, I am concerned that they formed at all. I bought a book called "What Every Pianist Needs To Know About the Body" (Thomas Mark) which suggests that they can be a result of poor keyboard technique.

    I studied piano and organ formally until about age 22; all of my teachers emphasized flow and relaxation and I believe taught me well. I have been playing organ and piano now for about 2 years after a long hiatus. When I play, I try to be alert for tension in my arms, shoulders, wrists and hands and minimize it.

    Does anyone have any experience with a similar situation? Any comments or suggestions for me?

    (I looked for a piano or general keyboard forum but did not find one.)

    Thanks to all,


  2. #2
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Taylors, South Carolina, USA
    I have heard of carpel tendion problems from playing mainly piano as organ requires less stress as such. Interesting. I wish you best of luck and hope you are still able play. I know at my older age I ache and cramp more when I practice than I used too. I did find that taking a joint supplement by "Wellesse" extra strength liquid form I feel alot better with movements in all areas of life as well as playing. I get it at Walmart and is $12.84 USD..( which last for 2 directed for maximum dose) been taking it for 2 years now....might try it. Best of Luck
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.


  3. #3
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Poole Dorset UK
    The only keyboard I "play" is the one I'm typing this on, I use it a lot, often 8 - 10 hours a day, I have found that I get some pain and discomfort if I don't keep my seat height within certain limits, the angle of arm and wrist seem, for me, to be critical. Don't know if this will be of help.

    Like Bill I also take a supplement, Glucosamine, which so far has dealt with most joint pain (I'm 78 so do expect a few creaks from the joints)
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

  4. #4
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Tucson, Arizona
    I have been a professional organist for over 50 years ... in the last 10 years, I have been experiencing minor shoulder pain from the rotator=cuff cartilage being worn away. I have yet to experience any problems in my hands - I, like Mike, spend significant hours typing on the PC (I am a 'touch typist and do not have to look at the keys) and playing either the piano at home or the organ at my church. Keeps my fingers nimble - although they tend to make lots more mistakes in my senior years than I would like to have.

    There are some 'topicals' one can use for pain ... one is Ibuprofen cream ... available usually only at compounding pharmacies, but it's an 'over-the-counter' item and does not require a Rx prescription. I used to take Voltarin for my pain, but that drugs is one of those NSAIDS that seem to do damage to the liver, so I got off those. I, when I need it, take the Rx Dramadol - especially before and after a busy playing gig - helps, but doesn't relieve all the pain associated with missing cartilage in my shoulder joints.

    I have yet to experience any carpel tunnel symptoms, and home I never do, as that will surely end my playing career if an operation is ever required.

  5. #5
    Commodore con Forza
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    There were organists, pianists, and typists long before anyone ever heard of carpal tunnell syndrome. Do these things develop just because somebody told us that they exist? The pianist Gary Grafman lost some of the use of his right hand but continued to play at his ability.

    It has been said that getting up in the morning can be dangerous to your health. The claim is that repeated action of just about any type can eventually lead to some type of muscle, tendon, or bone problem. So do we all stop playing organs, pianos, or computer keyboards? That would be a loss to civilization.

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