As a violinist who suffered with tendonitis in my knuckle joints (PIP Joint) for many years, I felt compelled to write this article to help other musicians with this problem. This article will outline some key points I followed that enabled me to make a full recovery.
When dealing with tendonitis it is extremely important that you are patient and rest the inflamed tendon. I really want to emphasize how important rest is. When I first noticed my tendonitis injury back in 2007, I thought it would heal by itself and continued to practice violin. This was truly the worst thing I could have done to my joint, it got so inflamed that at times I couldn’t even bend my finger. A month off playing is truly much better for your health and more productive than pushing your body until you cannot work anymore, and then having to take 6-12 months off playing.
Ice Cold Water and Hot Water
Dipping your hand in a bowl filled with iced water and a bowl with hot water can provide some relief for the inflamed joint. It also helps flush out the toxins that cling to the joint. Do this twice a day.
If you are pursuing the career of being a professional musician I really recommend that you stretch multiple times a day. There are many stretches that you can do to target individual muscles. One muscle however that I wasn’t aware of, was the “soez” muscle (Psoas Major Muscle), which is one of the muscles that enables your torso to bend forwards and backwards. My Bowen Therapist noticed that mine was extremely tight. She said this was extremely common in most patients she saw because we bend forwards much more than we do backwards. To stretch the soez you can lie down on top of a gym ball. At first this stretch will be quite uncomfortable but after a couple of days you will feel elongated and begin to enjoy resting into this stretch.
Massage and Other Therapies
Massages are great for relaxing and releasing all the built up energy in the muscles. However, I am aware that not everyone can afford a weekly massage. Therefore I recommend lying and rolling yourself on top of a tennis ball. If you find this too painful you can place the tennis ball on a wall and push yourself onto it. Other therapies you can try are: Acupuncture (beware that mostly its effects are only temporary), Bowen Therapy, Felden Krais (wonderful unusual therapy that worked wonders) and physiotherapy.
Once you have noticed that your joint has recovered, I recommend strengthening the joints. There are several options that are easily available for you to purchase, such as hand strengthening balls. However, the device that really enabled me to re-build strength in my fingers was the Xtensor. Although the Xtensor is not yet well-known, this fantastic device specifically strengthens the finger extensor muscles and improves finger joint range of motion. I believe that using the Xtensor relieved my tendonitis and accelerated my healing process.
Stay away from Finger Therapists
In 2010, after suffering from my tendonitis for 3 years, I went to several appointments with finger specialists. All the specialists gave me multiple cortisone injections ($90 per injection), promising me that my pain would be gone. Yes, although I had no pain for 2 weeks, I strongly regret getting these injections. Cortisone leaves the muscle weak, thins the skin and I found it only to be temporary. My fingers have never felt the same since the injections.
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