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Rotator cuff injury; help!

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Has anyone suffered a rotator cuff injury? (left shoulder). I am 48 yrs. old and have played (violin) about 2+ years; recently after spending 2 weeks on one particular etude (G string) my shoulder became quite sore. Then the next day I could not move my arm. The pain was awful. The sports medicine doctor says no violin for 4 weeks (I'm miserable). Has anyone dealt with this? Is this a recurring type thing that I will need to deal with often? One potential solution I'm told is try a 3/4 size instrument (less reaching/twisting). It is the arm extension/elbow hyper-extension that creates the pain. Thanks for any advice. I am very bummed at the moment. As a side note, I can hardly play the guitar either - the extended arm and rotation of the hand.

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I was recently diagnosed with arthritus in my left shoulder that made holding the violin painful. I am an older player. My doc put me on Vioxx and all was fine in a couple of days. Vioxx is for joint inflamation.

Doug.

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I have a small group of maestroneters with shoulder pain, that are trying a device that gives some relief for cuff injuries while playing. write me at my private address(not Mnet messaging,) and Ill send you some help, it's at my office, I think you'll be surprised.

Bud

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Oh! You're not going to want to hear what I say. I injured mine last fall. It hurt so bad for a month or so that there was no good way to sleep, and I couldn't reach for things. Particular angles were worse than others; some incredibly painful. Sometimes I'd wake up in the night yelping and panting because I'd done something I shouldn't have in my sleep.

I've made three trips to the doctor. At first he prescribed Ibuprofen in pretty large doses, to bring down the inflamation. Finally he gave me a shot of cortisone right in the joint. I wish I could say any of it did anything, but as nearly as I can tell, it's just slowly and steadily healing on its own. It's been about five months, and I can do everything I normally would, but it aches constantly, and stiffens up in the night. But I do feel it getting better slowly. Like other really painful injuries I've had that took months to go away, I suspect this one will as well--that's where it's headed, anyway. It's getting to the point where it doesn't stop me from doing anything, and usually I don't notice it, except when doing certain things that it doesn't, nevertheless, stop me from doing.

A friend who's a doctor told me the rotator cuff is just a bad design, and after about 30 it's vulnerable, and a common injury. I'm 53, by the way.

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It is a difficult problem, and you describe the effects very well Michael, and I'm sure you are right about 'length of time'to recovery. It all depends on whether you sustained a tear in the capsule or not and the gold standard for that diagnosis is an MRI scan. My acumen tells me that you did tear the capsule; it's blood supply is very poor and heals, at best very slowly, if left. I'm interested in fiddle- faddle's device! In my experience, surgery is the only cure here and the most efficient way out of the problem but, ideally, there should be another way to treat this 'thing'. One preventive tool that I have found that can be effective [when anyone listens] is to keep the shoulder girdle muscles in good shape as we age, to better protect the joint in the first place. It's shutting the stable door when the horse has bolted though, most of the time.

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I sustained a partial tear 4 years ago. One of the things I did was to play a large clunky viola and play against pain. DON'T DO THAT! I also moved a lot of massive furniture (really dumb). I originally found this board while I was searching for some way to keep playing. I learned to take baby steps. I played a 7/8 violin for about a year. Then full sized violin, then a very good very small viola. I take only naproxen sodium for pain because Vioxx can be ototoxic. You will certainly want to contact fiddlefaddle- his advice was extremely helpful to me and very easy to facilitate. You may be told that you shouldn't play, and you may not be able to temporarily, but after the pain quiets down a bit, then experiment a little. Just don't EVER try to play against pain. If it hurts, put your instrument down and try again in a day or two.

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In reply to:

One preventive tool that I have found that can be effective [when anyone listens] is to keep the shoulder girdle muscles in good shape as we age, to better protect the joint in the first place. It's shutting the stable door when the horse has bolted though, most of the time.


So do you have any exercises that you can describe here for people who want to keep the shoulder girdle muscles in good shape?

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Ann

Do you think playing the 7/8 size instrument helped? I am considering borrowing a 3/4 to play for awhile. Also, how soon is too soon to start playing? Is a little tenderness and aching okay, or do I need to wait until absolutely NO pain?

Thanks,

Jill

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Hi, all. Yes Jill, the smaller instrument helped a lot. I got a lovely little Scott Cao from George Behary. My arm told me when I could go to a full sized violin. I had more trouble going back to viola where there can be so much variation in size. I play a tiny (14 1/4") viola, and recently I have been hoping for something a little larger, perhaps between 14 3/4"-15 1/4". Scarce as hen's teeth I know. If your shoulder is like mine, you will find that as it relaxes and improves, you begin to feel as though you are over-reaching the smaller fingerboard, as though your arm wants to play something a little larger. I took physical therapy- about a dozen sessions, and learned how to work the muscles to compensate for the tear, and learned to ice my shoulder if it was really bad. The most important thing is to refuse to give up. It is worth the fight, and with patience, you will progress.

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My daughter's husband took her to the Dallas Symphony for Valentine's. They said the concert master was playing and resting his left elbow on a specially made arm rest!! I'm embarassed to not remember who he is, but wonder if this was for a rotator cuff injury. I've also heard about a "shoulder impingement" injury that is fairly common.

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I have something, I don't 'know what though. When I lift my left shoulder and rotate it there's an audible crunching sound. It doesn't hurt, it just sounds really bad. I'm sure it's a result of my elbow injury last January.

Any suggestions?

Ben

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A few weeks ago I read that Perlman was to have surgery for his rotator cuff. I have not seen any follow-up in the news. Does anyone know if he had the surgery?

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Any exercises for the girdle muscles? Is this something I should work on only AFTER my shoulder pain is gone?

Thanks

Jill

Sorry to dig so deep in your archives. Since looking into Heifetz lately I've got interested in this area. There is one yoga exercise to strengthen the rhomboids - they are quite deep so had to get at yet so important for shoulder girdle integrity:

Half%20Spinal%20Twist.jpg

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I've been playing violin for about 6 years now, I'm left handed and so my left side gets used the most for pretty much everything.  Years ago I got a shoulder injury from being thrown around by my ex while he was hanging on to my left upper arm...now i have two left shoulder rotator cuff tears, arthritis and tendonitis...also, I'm 72.  I've been in physical therapy for about 7 months now and it's still too painful to play my violin.  I fear I'm done for good.  My greatest joy was playing in our local community orchestra and playing with friends.  30 years ago when the original injury occurred physical therapy wasn't as good as it is today but i don't seem to be making much progress and according to the surgeon even if surgery was successful (50/50 chance) he doesn't think i'd be able to play.  Life is always full of change and challenges.

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^It's usually the bowing arm that's affected by that problem.  I had it bad in both shoulders for awhile, couldn't reach over my head to change a light bulb, and I thought to myself what has caused this, what's different than before.  I traced it back to weird motorcycle handlebars I'd been using.  Changed those and the problem went away totally in a month or so.  So look for what's different now, in your playing, regular life, etc.  In playing, everything should be relaxed; that's like the whole essence of it.

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One thing to try: if using a cushion or shoulder rest, try to place this as close to your neck (and on the edge of the instrument) as possible. Ideally, the cushion or shoulder rest should be resting on your collarbone area. 
This will free your shoulders and arms from holding the instrument and lessen the burden. 
 

ps: if you haven’t already, try the Wolf Secundo shoulder rest; it has the collarbone curve naturally built in. 
 

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10 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

I traced it back to weird motorcycle handlebars I'd been using.

Forgive me : WHAT were you using motorcycle handlebars for ??? Is it legal ? V/damore approves ???  PM me with more details...

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18 hours ago, cherylf2 said:

now i have two left shoulder rotator cuff tears, arthritis and tendonitis...also, I'm 72.  

i believe rotator requires surgery but for arthritis  i know some people believe in the power of copper - make a homemade copper bracelet and or try those black gloves that have the copper infused with the glove material.  

While I think blu emu and hempvana ointments are snake oil for the most part they can provide a period of 20 minute relief for elderly tendonitis sufferers.  resting is better i'd think.

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On 10/18/2020 at 4:45 AM, Carl Stross said:

Forgive me : WHAT were you using motorcycle handlebars for ??? Is it legal ? V/damore approves ???  PM me with more details...

Thanks, Carl.  Now I have two more things to disapprove of around here.......     partytime.gif.5a60a475052eb928b7a2753df2e54bff.gif  :lol:

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On 10/17/2020 at 2:16 PM, cherylf2 said:

I've been playing violin for about 6 years now, I'm left handed and so my left side gets used the most for pretty much everything.  Years ago I got a shoulder injury from being thrown around by my ex while he was hanging on to my left upper arm...now i have two left shoulder rotator cuff tears, arthritis and tendonitis...also, I'm 72.  I've been in physical therapy for about 7 months now and it's still too painful to play my violin.  I fear I'm done for good.  My greatest joy was playing in our local community orchestra and playing with friends.  30 years ago when the original injury occurred physical therapy wasn't as good as it is today but i don't seem to be making much progress and according to the surgeon even if surgery was successful (50/50 chance) he doesn't think i'd be able to play.  Life is always full of change and challenges.

Can you get a 2nd. opinion?  :(

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