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Thread: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

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    Doc Ivory Doc Ivory's Avatar
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    Default Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    One of the pleasures of getting older for me is a fair case of arthritis in my hands, predominately in my left, fretting hand.

    I can place a bit of blame on it due to an overly active guitar, violin playing history spanning 45 some years. The rest? Well, I'm 65. Not old enough in my mind to be considered "old" but along in years enough to experience a few aches and pains.

    I've been doing some suggested stretches and clenches in the mornings and evenings which seems to help most times. (A little "BioFreeze" every now and then also helps occasionally.


    Will it stop me? nope. PLAY ON!!!
    I still have my chops but I know it may smart a little the next day

    Anyone else in a similar situation? I'd be interested in hearing what you do to help.
    Doc Ivory
    -Play loud, live long..

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Yeah ….. played a couple of hours last night ….. tender in the hands this AM ….. and I agree … I intend to Play On!
    I continue trying to relax as I play and not "over play" that helps
    I take acetaminophen and naproxen-sodium … Tylenol and Aleve
    R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    I keep my action as low as possible, to the point of carrying a gauge to measure and tool to raise and lower as necessary. I will do it between songs at a gig if necessary. I also wash dishes in very hot water, it feels good on the hands. I do not to take anything, which at my age is something in itself. I know I can't do two gigs in the same day like I used to, I also shorten the gigs to 3 hours if i can. We take only one break so the establishment really gets the same amount of playing time and folks don't seem to leave when you are playing, as much as a break, so it seems to work well. I also use a pick up instead of a mic, it allows me to play easier and still carry a solid volume. A good pick up installed well with a good preamp sounds very much like my mandolin. Fortunately I don't play at loud volumes, few pickups sound good when past a certain point. The thing I do most is Keep Playing.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Yes, I am 72 and get a bit of arthritis now, but I play on. I actually think that it is better to keep things moving than not - kinda use it or lose it.
    If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a vet.

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    Doc Ivory Doc Ivory's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    I've been keeping the action low on all my instruments, seems to help.
    Not overplaying helps me as well.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I agree, if I stop playing it's over.
    Doc Ivory
    -Play loud, live long..

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Immersing hands in melted paraffin (wax) has been a useful treatment for arthritis for quite some time. Helps minimise pain, and over time may improve the condition.

    Here's how:https://healthyliving.azcentral.com/...-12187472.html

    Here's a bit of science: https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...31940605609637

    Can't hurt to try.

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    I don't have arthritis but my wife does. She doesn't play mandolin but she's a retired rheumatology nurse and used to manage a specialist rheumatology hospital. I suppose it depends on which of the 250 or so varieties of arthritis you have but she generally advises that you keep up with any activities that you're previously used to as the symptoms of the disease tend to burn themselves out and go into remission. Keep on picking!

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Along with the usual lotions and such, I've found that for my particular form of arthritis, a Herco thumb pick allows me to play far longer than I would with the normal pick or plectrum, in that it allows me to hold my thumb at a different angle. Good luck

    "I ache in the places where I used to play", Leonard Cohen.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    I saw that procedure done a few times but never did myself.
    Msybe I'll head back to my hand doc to try it a few times.
    Doc Ivory
    -Play loud, live long..

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    My fingers have gradually become increasingly slow and stiff over the last decade. I try to moderate the effects by keeping the action low and using J73s to lighten the effort needed to play. I also work to try not to hold the pick in a death grip, but it seems like the more I try, the tighter I squeeze. I don't know if anybody else has this problem, but I also get hand cramps and have to stop for a while until they are well passed. Anybody have any advice on that one?
    When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench, I can always hear them talk.
    Me, I'm just a lawnmower - you can tell me by the way I walk.

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Just like an athlete warming up before an event I gently pull my fingers back, with my other hand, one at a time to stretch the muscles and warm them up. I also close them one at a time an using the other hand push them so they close, stretching the opposite muscles. Hot water is good to warm muscles, soak your hands in hot water before you play, then do the stretches. My back hates doing dishes, but my hands love it.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Definitely having similar symptoms, but, like you, playing on anyway!
    "All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    You probably know the natural remedies that are fairly universally accepted as being often helpful, but which due to absence of clinical research are viewed non-commitedly by many doctors. However, it's worth mentioning Glucosamine Sulphate and Chondroitin Sulphate - often recommended for knees. I also take capsules with turmeric, ginger and black pepper. I think if you go for well dosed, organic quality it cannot harm, and may help, and I've heard of people experiencing considerable relief in the hands.

    Personally, arthritis in the hands is what encouraged me to move more away from guitar and bar chords (open chords are more interesting anyway...) and move to bouzouki (rhythm) and then mandolin (melody). It seems to me that bluegrass must be pretty hard on arthritic hands, but I completely understand the sentiment : "keep on playing". Our brains need the mental challenge, if nothing else!
    "What's that funny guitar thing..?"

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Doc
    here's a couple things to check out, I have used all of what I am recommending, and each thing has helped-some in tremendous ways.
    I work in the "modern" medical world, but my first go-to is holistic/herbal/ayurvedic medicine and treatments for myself. 58 yrs old and never been on any meds. body functions work as good as any time in my life. no aches, no pains, and I push my body pretty hard in many different forms of athletic endeavors.

    research and delve deeply into your diet-especially in the holistic/ayurvedic practice. diet can effect inflammation and response to many types of "Arthur". if you can find a naturalpathic or ayurvedic practitioner in your area, they can work with you to adjust your diet, and add some herbal components that may very well work for you-and not just with regards to the arthritis, but it may turn a lot of things around for you. these methods/diets can work in such ways that they realign your system to perform its best and most natural way-many times people who maintain a practice of such, can reverse diabetes, blood pressure issues, arthritis, bowel issues, and get off many prescription meds.
    find a good acupuncture practitioner. if it works for you, it will work quickly and your body will respond as such-this may relieve most or all your pain, and allow you to not ingest pain/anti inflammation meds, swelling(if its happening)may go away, and more flexible movement will return.
    as others mentioned, a low action and light gauge strings.
    i'll mention something else that may be of interest. I picked up a Weber Aspen about a month ago and it sounds strong and very clear, but I was able to achieve an extremely low, buzz free action. This Aspen is extremely easy to fret/play. You barely touch it and it frets clean. action at the 12th is 1/32" on all string courses. flat fretboard, non elevated, and I fashioned an adjustable bridge for it, so everything is essentially like a straight line-I think all that has allowed this super low action.
    so you might keep an eye out for something like this or similar.

    here's the thread on the Aspen:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...pen-2-uh-oh-my

    best of luck in finding what works for you
    d
    Last edited by darylcrisp; Jul-26-2018 at 5:08pm.

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    If you're in doubt about any particular remedy, look it up on the Science-based Medicine site (i.e. https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/glucosamine-update/, https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/?s=...&submit=Search ), where they take this stuff seriously.

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Doc
    check into this book, "plant based nutrition" 2nd edition, Julieanna Hever, MS/RD/CPT, and Raymond J Cronise.
    easy to read and filled with a complete way to take check of your diet, how to change it for improvement, and how these changes will effect every part of your life.
    its not about living longer, but about livinglonger. the information contained in this book can make huge positive turns in the road for the rest of the years of your life.

    David Sinclair, Ph.D, Professor Harvard Medical school said this about the book " an authoritative distillation of whats important and what's not in human nutrition. For anyone interested in how and why plants can change your life, this is a must read".

    its an easy and captivating book to read also.

    the healing a proper diet promotes in ones body, allows defense against many maladies that attack our body systems. an improper diet invites/and can actually promote many debilitating disease processes to invade and weaken our bodies.

    I guess I'm trying to say, don't just look for a pill or some treatment that "hides" the pain but does nothing to promote improvement. look at this as a new beginning, take awareness to your body and start methods that will improve and hopefully turn many things around that attack us as we age.

    d

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim N View Post
    You probably know the natural remedies that are fairly universally accepted as being often helpful, but which due to absence of clinical research are viewed non-commitedly by many doctors. However, it's worth mentioning Glucosamine Sulphate and Chondroitin Sulphate - often recommended for knees. I also take capsules with turmeric, ginger and black pepper. I think if you go for well dosed, organic quality it cannot harm, and may help, and I've heard of people experiencing considerable relief in the hands.

    Personally, arthritis in the hands is what encouraged me to move more away from guitar and bar chords (open chords are more interesting anyway...) and move to bouzouki (rhythm) and then mandolin (melody). It seems to me that bluegrass must be pretty hard on arthritic hands, but I completely understand the sentiment : "keep on playing". Our brains need the mental challenge, if nothing else!
    I was having considerable pain in my hands and my wrists, and I friend suggested I use Tumeric. I began making, and drinking a mixture of 1/2 tsp turmeric, dash of black pepper, honey and milk ("golden milk"). The milk must be heated to just under a boil, and then the other ingredients are added. The pain in my wrists has decreased by 90%. Tumeric is a natural anti-inflammatory.
    If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a vet.

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    As William Shakespeare wrote -

    "Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
    Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
    Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
    Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
    For a charm of powerful trouble
    ,
    Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    From Ray -
    "Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
    Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
    Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
    Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
    For a charm of powerful trouble,
    Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."
    How long before you can drink it Ray - does it mature in the bottle ??,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly Adams View Post
    I was having considerable pain in my hands and my wrists, and I friend suggested I use Tumeric. I began making, and drinking a mixture of 1/2 tsp turmeric, dash of black pepper, honey and milk ("golden milk"). The milk must be heated to just under a boil, and then the other ingredients are added. The pain in my wrists has decreased by 90%. Tumeric is a natural anti-inflammatory.
    I may need to try this, it's certainly worth a shot
    Doc Ivory
    -Play loud, live long..

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Before you self-diagnose your hand problem see a doctor. I thought I had arthritis in my left hand for the past several years and when I finally went to a doctor for relief I was diagnosed with Dupuytrens, a genetic disease which ultimately cripples the fingers if not treated. Because I waited so long my hand required extensive surgery which I had a month ago. Had I gone earlier there would have been a simpler remedy.

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Several things helped me when my thumb joints flared up, most of them already in this thread. Biggest effect was when I went off dairy: I was eating cheese and drinking milk every day, a naturopathic doctor said try one week no dairy. Dramatic change; now, that's me and my system, not yours, and reactions differ. Still have trouble from time to time, and recently purchased a beautiful Gibson K4 mandocello that has very high action and heavy strings: that set it off. I found lighter strings and lower action (on my old K2) made a big difference so the K4 is going to the shop for some neck, fret and bridge work.
    I have also tried all the other suggestions: turmeric, hot wax, stretching, glucosamine, etc. and I would say they might work but it's trial and error, individual case by case. I did check with a couple doctors and specialists, including hand Xrays, so not just guess-work. (btw, My "Doc"-torate is in Music Education, not medical) From this thread, it appears that it is a common problem with age and picking. But I'm 72 and having a great time, will do whatever it takes to keep going. Hope you can do the same!

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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    From Ray -
    "Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
    Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
    Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
    Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
    For a charm of powerful trouble,
    Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."
    How long before you can drink it Ray - does it mature in the bottle ??,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    I also have arthritis & dupuytrans (refuse to do the surgery thing at this time). What is really great for me as using Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Concentrated Hand Cream. Before and after my playing time. All my fingers and palm.
    I think, therefore, I pick.

  39. #25
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    Default Re: Mandolins, Arthritis and Yours Truly

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc James View Post
    (btw, My "Doc"-torate is in Music Education, not medical)
    Hey Doc! My "Doc-torate" is in math LOL!!

    I'm pretty much gonna try a little of everything posted here.
    I've been to a hand doctor and he ruled out pretty much everything but arthritis which apparently I abound in.
    Anything to keep the inflammation down to a dull roar.

    Regardless, I'm gonna keep playing!!
    Doc Ivory
    -Play loud, live long..

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