With the risk of sounding a bit stupid, I have to ask if you've been checked for something as simple as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or a form of Tendonitis? I'm sure with all the extensive testing, surely they HAVE checked or considered such possibilities, but if I know Dr's they can overlook obvious things. Anyways, I was browsing about and come across this case study of sorts of a woman with similar problems and it lists possible diagnosis, if you are interested.
On a side note, have you considered alternative therapies such as acupuncture? It is supposed to have a high success rate in joint/muscular aches. Just a thought!
I came across your post, and it basically describes my situation perfectly. Every single thing you've mentioned is what I've tried and experienced, it's crazy! Wrist "tendinitis" but also pain in the elbow, ulner nerve tests (2 EMG's), MRI's of neck and wrists, Physical and occupational Therapy, chiropractor, pediatrician saying I'll "grow out of it," Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, heat, cold, wrist and elbow braces...
Yes, I am a violinist (well, I've been resting for the last 3 months), and have pain whenever I write and type. I've had this for 5 years (since I was 15), and am really desperate too. I am considering acupuncture and wonder if you tried it and if it helped. I noticed this post was about 3 years ago...has ANYTHING worked??
I tried to post this a bit ago, and don't think it worked... here's another try.
I struggled with this for a long time. I am a biology teacher and violinist, and I have done my homework on the ulnar nerve. As you probably know, the ulnar nerve emerges from between several lower cervical and top thoracic vertebrae before making its way through the cubital tunnel (funny bone) of the elbow and then innervating the smallest fingers. The ulnar nerve is actually dubbed the "musicians' nerve" for frequent inflammation in string-players; it is unlikely that your trouble is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is inflamation of the median nerve which innervates the thumb and first 2 fingers. I began to develop tingling in those fingers shortly after my family ended our small-scale farming operation, to which I contributed a lot of muscle power. The problem escalated to cause trouble in playing the violin because of the pain, and also in everyday activities most of us take for granted. My elbows were very sensitive and all my symptoms generally resemble yours. No resting on my elbows, or writing on a table/desk, or even swinging my arms naturally at my sides as I walked. I also was diagnosed with tendonitis of the forearm, but no treatments helped.
After a lot of piecing together for myself, I discovered the root of the problem medically was in my back. After losing a lot of strength from stopping the physical labour, my back was no longer able to withstand long rehearsal and practise times simply by brute force, as I had done, and as a result, my upper back became a network of knotted muscles, which put pressure on all the wrong places and pinched nerves. I began to seek out back massages, and that is where a lot of relief came. The part of the back to work on is the thoracic region, particularly the upper half and into the neck (cervical). Do not neglect the shoulder-blade regions, especially the muscles beneath the scapula.
Aside from that, get a shoulder rest/chin rest setup that is tailor-made for YOU! This is a part of violin technique that is most often overlooked and, in my opinion, is of central importance. If your back and neck is crooked due to gripping the instrument with chin or shoulder, that will throw out the alignment of the vertebrae and cause all sorts of problems. Don't listen to people who say that one setup or another is the only technically correct thing to do, because it's not worth the pain.
In the meantime, here are my suggestions: 1, strengthen your back. Anything you do to strengthen those muscles will help them keep your vertebrae in alignment so nerves don't get pinched. 2, try writing on your lap, as this helps eliminate back tension and pressure of the table against the inside of the elbow. 3, try sleeping with a pillow under your arm to eliminate all pressure to the inside of the elbow. 4, watch posture while playing violin and while not. Don't slouch. 5, and this may sound silly, but women need to wear a brassiere that fits properly and does not ride up in the back, as this puts pressure on those upper back muscles that are already too tense.
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