I got a repetitive strain injury. I think I got it from playing my instrument excessively.

How long will it take for my hand to feel normal again? What can I do to speed up the recovery?


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    RSI is a kind of 'catch-all' term to describe a lot of different things, some of which just require a bit of rest to recover from, and some of which might be chronic conditions. If you've injured yourself playing, I'd suggest consulting a doctor about the injury, and a music teacher about your technique. Get well soon! – topo Reinstate Monica Jun 10 '18 at 11:51
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is a medical question, not a music question. I know lots of anecdotal responses will show up, but that is not good medical practice. – Carl Witthoft Jun 11 '18 at 13:17
  • There is no one single answer, but it would help if you said which instrument you play. – Ambluj Jun 11 '18 at 17:51
  • @CarlWitthoft so many musicians deal with this problem that I don't think it's inappropriate to this forum. – dwilli Jun 11 '18 at 18:36
  • @dwilli I agree lots suffer from physical strain/damage. I disagree that this site is a good place for medical advice. – Carl Witthoft Jun 11 '18 at 18:48

See a doctor. The question "how long..." depends on several factors including (1) time away from playing, (2) proper diagnosis of the problem, (3) physical therapy, (4) use of anti inflammatory drugs, etc.

Too many variables to say 1-2 weeks and you're fine.

You haven't stated what you play, I've had some fairly long term RSI type issues from guitar playing that went away almost immediately when I admitted to myself that I was playing with poor posture and form, e.g. thumb over the edge of the neck, bend wrist, etc.

The sad thing is you can take off all the time you want but if your posture is causing the stress it will come back immediately.

You also haven't stated the nature of the RSI, tendonitis, carpel tunnel, etc. If we gave you advise for "speeding up recovery" that was not appropriate for your RSI we could lead you down a path to making it worse! no one wants that on their conscience.

I will share with you a couple of my experiences. Tennis elbow in right arm from speed picking while sitting hunched over. Heat pad before playing, ice after, ibuprofen when pained. Permanent fix = stop doing it, not speed picking but playing in a hunched over posture with my arm folded. Carpel tunnel in right hand. This is not due to playing but to programming, sitting on a computer for hours, again with bad posture. It isn't bad enough to require surgery and if I wear a wrist brace when typing it simply never comes up. So, permanent fix = proper posture.

I have maintained a practice schedule between 4 - 8 hours a day on two to three different instruments pain free and RSI free for years simply by maintaining proper posture. I hope that helps.


RSI can be rather problematic, depending on how bad it is. It is quite common for musicians to suffer from. I have known of musicians who have been forced to give up playing. Other's have found a way to manage it and kind of live with it. Others catch it in time and can recover fully. It is very individual. Exercises can help in strengthening muscles affected.

It can range from a couple of weeks or less, to years, so it's impossible to say how long yours will affect you. In serious cases surgery can be an option. In many cases it can be managed and improved and even eliminated. It depends on how severe it is and also what type it is.

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    I strongly urge you to seek medical advice. – Jomiddnz Jun 10 '18 at 4:01

In my experience (and I was out of work for two years due to RSI) it occurred because my body was not in the correct alignment when I was using it. This was due to stress-related tension and posture. In general, the tension or misalignment could be somewhere completely different from the affected body part. I hunched up my shoulder blades without realizing it for a period of years due to stress and my finger joints were in agony, although the rheumatologist could find nothing wrong with them.

Doctors don't look at things this way, BTW. Some good physical therapists do, as well as practitioners of the Feldenkreis method, Alexander technique and some other alternative modalities. Counseling or meditation can help you deal with the root causes of stress that underlie this situation.

When you fix the alignment by fixing the tension or posture the 'injury' goes away very quickly.

This is just personal advice, not trained medical advice. You should probably let the doctors see what they can find out so you know there's no physical damage. But if they don't know right away or keep trying different things with no success then you might look further.

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