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12-29-2010, 09:19 PM   #1
Andy108
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Musicians, arthritis?

I am a professional musician, I play bass in jazz, soul, funk and reggae groups. I am sometimes requested to play double bass in big bands or other jazz combos, but I sometimes find it physically difficult, and lately have just stuck to bass guitar.

I am worried/terrified about inflammation (arthritis) affecting my ability to play, as music is the one thing that I do really well, and I am a performer, not a teacher or songwriter. Are there any other musos (or artists who rely on high level dexterity) out there with IBD, with worries about inflammation in their hands?

Any advice on how to avoid developing arthritis?

BTW- I have had UC for over 8 years, currently using sulfa drugs, colonic cortisone foam and cannabis.

Last edited by Andy108; 12-29-2010 at 09:20 PM. Reason: grammar, spelling
12-30-2010, 03:37 AM   #2
Rebecca85
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I am a violinist. So far I have not had any cause for concern regarding my hands. I do take fish oil, because of its anti inflammatory effects, and it has the benefit of being good for your joints. There are other supplements out there specifically designed for the joints, it can't hurt to try one surely? But I play violin with an amateur orchestra, that is almost exclusively made up of older people, who find that due to ailments like arthritis, can't keep up with a more professional orchestra. However, most of the old fogeys (I mean that in a nice way) can easily out play me! Because they play regularly, they manage to keep playing. So even if you do develop arthritis, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of your career.
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12-30-2010, 04:57 AM   #3
Andy108
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Sounds like there is not much chance of developing IBD related arthritis in the elbows and hands then....whew!

Maybe the discomfort that occurs when playing double bass is related to my anemia and associated lack of proper technique from getting tired.

I cannot afford to lose any mobility at all, playing at a very demanding level, a lot of pro bass players are scared of the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome....you don't have to have IBD to be worried about losing your hands.
12-30-2010, 07:35 AM   #4
Agent X20
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Hi, Andy. Interesting post. I was a semi-pro sax player for years... even thought about giving up my day job 10 years ago (but the day job was easier). In the last 10 years I've been playing bass (guitar) in local bands... just for the fun of it. I left my last band two years ago... mainly because I felt tired and cr*p most of the time.

I had trouble with arthritis in my left hip, which was a problem due to the pain caused when lumping amps and speakers around... as well as all the standing around on stage. Anyway, had a hip replacement five years ago, so that sorted that out! Although my hands look a bit gnarly, I've never had any trouble with arthritis that has affected my playing. I did start playing fretless bass because I thought it was a little less strain on my fingers... but I've just bought a fretted bass so I thibnk that may have just been a phase.

The other problem I have is peripheral neuropathy, which has killed the nerve endings in my feet... but my fingers still seem ok and unaffected. Music wise it just increases my ability to trip over loose cables on stage.. so no rocking out!

I've never played an upright bass, but I thought they were very physical instruments anyway. Maybe you should consider playing an Electric upright... not ideal for a die-hard upright player, but sometimes you have to compromise to carry on doing what you love.

I don't believe that playing the bass will bring on arthritis (but I'm not a medical expert)... I think it will develop (or not) regardless, althoug I think a healthy lifestyle will help to keep it at bay. As for the Carpal Tunnel... I'm sure you know enough about that already.

Good luck... hope you keep on playing for many years yet.
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12-30-2010, 06:34 PM   #5
Absentminded
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I play the bassoon and contrabassoon, they're pretty heavy instruments and I always get pains in my wrist when I play for a long time, especially during intense symphonies. I usually wear a wrist support on my left wrist, as that takes most of the weight of the bassoon, which helps a bit.
Aside from the music, I'm a furniture conservator and so have to do a lot of detailled, repetitive work which I find really hard on my fingers. Some days I can't get my ring off because my fingers are swelled up so much and are so stiff.

I hope you find some answers and relief soon! I love funk music!!
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12-30-2010, 06:48 PM   #6
Andy108
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That's reassuring....I'm not too worried about lifting gear....I use ultra light cabs (neo-dyninium speakers) and light heads Eden and Benz Benz. Currently I am using an Electronic Upright, it is physically easier than my acoustic upright and has even better tone; it just doesn't look so good onstage.

Sometimes I consider getting rid of amps altogether and just use a good DI, but I like to have a big rig onstage to monitor myself.

I love bassoon! I could listen to the theme music to "Rumpole of the Bailey" all day.

Last edited by Andy108; 12-30-2010 at 07:02 PM.
12-31-2010, 05:59 AM   #7
Agent X20
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I use ultra light cabs (neo-dyninium speakers) and light heads Eden and Benz Benz
Heh! heh! I've got Mark Bass amps now... unbelievably light and well worth the money.
From my sax playing days I would never rely on on-stage monitoring again. Everyone else would turn up in the second set and I'd end up just playing from memory. OK when we had a pro sound guy with us... but that didn't happen all the time.
I keep trying to talk myself out of getting an electric upright... just something else to add to my burgeoning collection of instruments
01-02-2011, 08:03 AM   #8
Andy108
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Heh! heh! I've got Mark Bass amps now... unbelievably light and well worth the money.
From my sax playing days I would never rely on on-stage monitoring again. Everyone else would turn up in the second set and I'd end up just playing from memory. OK when we had a pro sound guy with us... but that didn't happen all the time.
I keep trying to talk myself out of getting an electric upright... just something else to add to my burgeoning collection of instruments
Markbass are sweet!.... Talking about gear, I am the loving owner of a beautiful Fodera Monarch (signed by Victor Wooten).... I wanted to take it into the Fodera workshop and meet Vinnie and Joey when I was in NYC, but I was SO sick that I just stayed in my apartment... I managed to do all my gigs though.

I have never looked back after getting my EUB, the only problem that I find with it is I might sometimes miss out on work,...but it's because of the look, not the sound, and sometimes guys I work for express that they would prefer it if I was playing an acoustic upright....it's an image thing I reckon.
01-02-2011, 10:22 AM   #9
Agent X20
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I am the loving owner of a beautiful Fodera Monarch (signed by Victor Wooten).
Just reading about Victor and Fodera in a recent issue of Bass Guitar Magazine. I am beside myself with admiration and envy!!!

Shame about the image problems with EUBs. Sometimes musicians can be really backward looking and conservative. Having said that... I finally got round to buying a Fender Jazz this year... is that not a 50+ year old design or something (nearly as old as me)
10-10-2011, 07:03 PM   #10
IslandArts
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Play piano, flute and learning violin. I'm also an exhibiting artist and art teacher and have managed to continue after years with the joint pains of fibromyalgia. Still waiting on a diagnosis for Crohns, etc.
Supplements like chrondrotin and glucosamine, flaxseed, calcium and mag. have helped. BioFreeze is also a must to rub on after working with clay for awhle. That and my Atasol scrip...yea for codeine. Clay is my medium of choice even though it can be hard on the hands and wrists, but know my limits and give myself more time to work on a piece. I have contact skin allergies to most of the other art supplies so clay is something I can still work with without my skin falling off.
I'm finding violin difficult as I don't have the strength and flexibility in my fingers that I need at times, but pushing through it. Not always easy and know when I'm working on something that I'll pay for it later but can't stop.
For now I'm going to do what I can as long as I can as I know I'll miss it later on during a flare or if things get worse. As an artist I do freak out a bit when I see inflammation in my hands, wrists, etc. and hate it when I can't do what I want to do at times. I haven't ridden my horse for ages and when I was I had trouble with the reins as I couldn't tell how tight/loose my grip was or feel how much my left leg was moving.
Okay...enough of this. Speak to your doc or some people who are aware of what they're selling in a health store to find some supplements that work. Do some exericses and stretches for the joints too as they'll help keep them supple, even though it may feel like the worst thing in the world at times. Hoping you find something that helps.
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