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I'm almost 40, and I've played the piano for 35 years. I still play almost daily. I've been playing the guitar off and on for about 30 years, although at a lower level of proficiency than the piano.

I started getting arthritis in my hands about 8 years ago, which has resulted in my thumb rotating inward, and ulnar deviation at the wrist, so that instead of my middle finger aligning with my forearm my thumb does. I've somewhat compensated for this at the piano, but I've lost thumb dexterity and often get cramps and pain in my forearms from the misalignment; the impact on my guitar-playing has been much worse, to the point that I almost can't play at all.

Has anyone else experiencing this had success with technique modifications or anything else to mitigate the problem?

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  • What type of arthritis? Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ...? [I can only offer OA advice.]
    – Theodore
    Jul 1 '21 at 0:49
  • @Theodore As far as I know, just OA.
    – Dave
    Jul 1 '21 at 3:41
  • Poss dupe - 'what are the limitations for a guitarist with arthritis in his hands?'
    – Tim
    Jul 1 '21 at 12:25
  • My arthritis is beginning to limit how long I can play guitar uninterrupted. I am hoping to find some type of therapeutic solution to mitigate the pain and inflammation. Jul 1 '21 at 16:29
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The arm really needs to be aligned behind each finger which requires constant adjustments while playing. Do you play "quietly" from the flexors or from your shoulder and elbow? Improper technique can exacerbate other disorders and I am a firm believer that proper technique can promote healing. I would suggest finding a Taubman teacher and never ever again play your old repertoire since its improper movement is already hardwired into your brain. In fact, none of us should play our early repertoire unless we take a bit of time to re-learn those works with our newer movement. That is what unravels our technique or gives us "bad days" because the old technique tries to resurface and the old strains we once got used to are no longer supported by muscles we don't need or use anymore. In your case, I wonder if an improper technique combined with the arthritis is causing the arthritic deformity. I would contact Edna Golandsky in NYC and see if she has a student/teacher in your area. I know three of them and like anything else, some are better teachers, detectives and problem solvers than others. All want your money. One of my teachers, Stanley Hummel, he had arthritis in his fingers and all of them were deformed at the phalanges but he overcompensated with his elbow and shoulder and you'd never know by listening to him that his fingers were all gnarled. Good luck.

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