Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Thumb Pain in an Instrumental Musician

Alice G. Brandfonbrener, Peter C. Amadio, Robert Kalish
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 19 Number 4: Page 181 (December 2004)

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Abstract: A 49-year-old white female professional pianist and professor of piano at a community music college complains of bilateral thumb pain of 6 months' duration. The past summer she began to play golf more intensively than previously and noticed that her thumbs were tender after playing. She says that she first noticed it rather acutely, first in the left thumb only, but soon thereafter it became bilateral. Since the pain became acute 6 months ago she has backed off from playing piano except in teaching. She did not take any medication until very recently when she started to take 1-2 Aleve (naproxen) a day, without noticeable relief. She has used some ice, which seemed more helpful. She consulted her primary care physician, who took x-rays; the results were reported to her as normal. She comes in because she has some upcoming performing obligations and she is concerned that if she resumes playing piano at the level required in preparation for these performances, she might worsen the situation.

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