Theremin-induced bicep and forearm pain?

Posted: 12/13/2007 9:17:01 PM

From: Livingston, NJ

Joined: 7/14/2007

I went to doctor today. She said it appears to be tendinitis of the forearm. She said the theremin motion in my case (vibrato, elbow pinned), as a repetitive motion, could have been the culprit. Neither the doctor nor her P.A. had any idea what I meant by a theremin, giving me a chuckle.

She recommended 2400 mg of ibuprofen daily, taken at meals, for seven to ten days. No x-ray tech today. Will go back for that in a week if the pain doesn't diminish by then.

Pretty favorable compared to my worst fears. No need for a phys therapist, unless healing is not forthcoming. I'll tell you, I was starting to get pretty bummed, which is what pushed me thru a snow and freezing rain storm today to get it checked.

This forum helped BIG TIME, thanks.
Posted: 12/13/2007 11:09:07 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

I am definitely NOT a doctor, so you should listen to them. However, in the spirit of sharing relevant information that may be helpful to other theremin players...

After a little deep tissue massage by myself and two much more thorough workouts by a massotherapist, I am very happy to report my forearm is feeling MUCH better, and I can now flex my fingers without causing almost instant aches and pains! It's not a cure, but it's a hell of a start.

After reading about tendonitis at Wikipedia, it's highly likely my condition is very similar (from prolonged over-use).

It sounds like the fish oil suppliments (omega-3 fatty acids) I've recently started taking may have a beneficial side effect in this regard as well, in addition to providing tremendous relief for my overly dry skin. (The usual wintertime cracking and bleeding cuticles of my fingers has stopped!)

I also take additional magnesium suppliments, which is an important element for muscle relaxation. I originally started taking that to help ease my Bruxism (teeth clenching). My dentist was skeptical, but since it seems to help, I really don't care what he thinks.

I know this is more than anyone really wanted to know (about me), but if it can help someone else...what the heck!
Posted: 12/14/2007 5:04:08 AM

From: Dublin, Ireland

Joined: 7/25/2007

That sounds like very good advice Jeff. I would still strongly suggest having a few physio sessions, as all the evidence suggests that early manipulation is ideal. Many doctors prefer to try non steroidal antiinflammatories first, but I have always found that combining the two works best.

Hmmm Maybe I should specialise in Theremin induced injuries... Of course with all the Dublin based thereminists, I should have a lot of time off....
Posted: 12/14/2007 9:47:55 PM

From: Livingston, NJ

Joined: 7/14/2007

Update on progress. The NSAIDs are working great. Knowing that it's not carpal tunnel or radial tunnel or some other syndrome is one of the best medicines for healing, because it heals the fear in your mind. I am really glad I went to the doctor.

I am going to cancel the x-ray. A physical therapist would be overkill at this point, IMO. Had the doctor prescribed it, I would have gone.

Posted: 12/15/2007 12:51:36 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

I'm glad to hear you don't have carpel tunnel probls.

I, on the other hand, and the other hand as well, do, thanks to an office chair with hard-wood armrests, and improper use of computer mice according to my doc. Fortunately my theremin playing does not seem to agrivate my condition. The only problems I'm encountering at the moment are waking up with numb hands. I keep fearing the worst when that happens, but now I know what it really is, and have taken steps to correct it. My doc prescribed carpel tunnel splints at night if the problem continues, or worsens. No pain yet, though.

I also have tendinopathy in my left shoulder, and for months, that did hurt. Diabetes likely caused that. Fourtuantely, that's my volume side. I have had to start doing long, slow warmup routines in the morning prior to actually playing scores, or I will encounter some pain in my right outer arm below the elbow if I'm not carefull, but hat was caused by a minor injury when I crashed my elbow into the tip of the high-hat post on my drum kit while trying to wrestle with cable clutter a few weeks back.

I certainly wish you the best in getting that arm healed quickly, and good luck with your new playing techniques.
Posted: 12/15/2007 1:54:27 PM

From: Fresno, California USA

Joined: 3/26/2006

I developed repetitive stress injuries in both hands at work some years ago that are to some extent irreversible. It took me some time to figure out what was going on, but with attention to how I worked, changes in equipment (including an ergonomic pen), etc. it has changed from a condition that caused agonizing pain to a manageable minor problem. I cringe when I see Lyidia Kavina and Caroline Eyck hyperflexing their wrists backwards, because I know that would be a REALLY BAD idea for me. Certainly NSAIDs will help to reduce inflammation, but then one must change the practices that led to the inflammation in the first place. (And speaking as a cheapskate biochemist and toxicologist, I would never waste money on ibuprofen. Aspirin works the same way and is cheap; both can irritate the stomach if taken without food. For those who are unusually sensitive to said irritation, it is easy to find enteric coated aspirin. Acetaminophen doesn't have the anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin or ibuprofen, though.)

Pay attention to your body and how you use it and it will recover.
Posted: 12/15/2007 5:47:41 PM

From: Livingston, NJ

Joined: 7/14/2007

Thanks, Thomas, and everyone else. Thomas (may I call you Tom?), I had no idea you were also a drummer. I wonder if a lot of us thereminati are? We drummers are known for moving our hands thru the air in quick rhythm and syncopating between hands. Hope you're dealing with your challenges okay.

I wanted to go back to something NavRag said - seeing a physical therapist for exploring postural root causes. I believe that is totally valid and will look into it, because I have bad posture and it plagues me in my back and other areas.

I also think Jeff's point on massage was important, too. As to Alan's aspirin advice, I believe it. For me, I'm just following the doctor's orders right now. Now go play your theremins.
Posted: 12/15/2007 7:08:28 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

I've only had a drum kit for a couple of months, just thought I'd explore drumming. I played the drum in highschool, but I hated it because it only plays one note all the time. ;) A drum kit, or set, on the other hand is more interesting to mess with.

I agree with you on the postural causes too.

You must be logged in to post a reply. Please log in or register for a new account.