Playing Piano With Arthritis: Tips & Treatment

Playing Piano With Arthritis: Tips & Treatment

Reviewed By

Dr. Gargi Naha (M.Pth (Musculoskeletal))

It is more common for piano players to develop osteoarthritis. However, research has shown that playing the piano is never the cause of developing arthritis.

Playing Piano with Arthritis

The piano is a wonderful instrument to learn, but playing it with arthritis can be difficult. Playing piano with arthritis can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Taking care of your joints is essential for staying active and preserving your independence. Now, there are techniques that can help you enjoy playing the piano in spite of your arthritis.

Arthritis is a condition that has affected over 300 million people worldwide. It’s caused by inflammation of the joints, causing pain and limited movement. This can be limiting for those who love music and are looking to learn piano but have arthritis.

Playing the piano is an enjoyable and rewarding way to express yourself. Just like with any other activity, it’s important that you find a level of playing with arthritic hands that is achievable for you. It may be possible to play one or two songs or to practice scales, chords, and simple melodies while sitting. The most important thing is to keep your hands as active as possible.

If you have arthritis in your hands, fingers, or wrists, this article will help you find solutions for pain-free playing.

Tips and Ways to Continue Playing Piano with Arthritis

Arthritis is a chronic disease that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. This can make playing the piano difficult. Practising a few changes in your lifestyle, conditioning and caring, following some precautions can help pianists pursue their passion and love for the piano.

If you’ve been struggling with playing piano because of arthritis, here are some steps you can take as well as things to consider.

1. Physiotherapy Treatments

Physiotherapy is a way to keep your joints healthy and relieve any pain or discomfort associated with arthritis. Moreover, physiotherapists work with musicians who have arthritis to create personalised programs that help them play piano without risk of injury. There are many different types of physiotherapy treatments that can help with arthritis. 

Here are a few pointers you need to know to proceed:

  • Ice Therapy:

    Ice therapy is a non-invasive treatment that is applied with iced packs or ice packs for an hour at a time for five minutes at a time around once every hour. It helps reduce inflammation around the joint and ease pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms.

  • Exercise:

    Exercise is a great way to improve joint range of motion by forcing the muscles to contract while they stretch which gives the joints room to move. It also improves flexibility which will allow you to reach higher on the piano keys without straining your hands or wrists.

  • Soft tissue release Therapy:

    Soft tissue release therapy stimulates blood flow which reduces stiffness and stress in the finger joints. This type of therapy done by physiotherapists relaxes and reduces soreness. 

  • Contrast bath therapy:

    It can help relieve pain. In this hands are dipped alternately in warm and cold water in a ratio of 1:1 for a time period of 10-12 mins 

2. Taking Breaks

A correct piano playing style coupled with warm-up exercises before starting and breaks from practising can be beneficial. In this regard, correct piano playing, which is a simple and delicate playing style, is considered helpful in such cases. 

The worst-case scenario is working through the strain and soreness, strictly avoiding straining the joints as it might worsen the situation.

3. Consider Using a Light Touch Keyboard

Keyboards with Lighter keys are not only softer to work with, but they can also be found at an affordable price. Your hands will not strain as much with a light-touch piano and will be more comfortable in the long run as well.

4. Examine Other Courses Of Your Life

It is crucial to utilise your hands safely for other activities such as texting, typing, lifting up objects, and other activities that require hand movements, especially fingers. Precariousness can significantly lower the level of arthritis in your fingers, and lower levels of arthritis will improve your piano playing. Avoid excessive usage of your fingers in other aspects of life. 

5. Conditioning and Modifying Practice Sessions

Conditioning the affected joints is considered therapeutic as it relaxes the joints. Evaluate your playing form and consult an expert to examine your posture. 

Make a few alterations in your practice sessions as it helps in alleviating the pain due to arthritis. Your muscles will remain healthy and can prevent injuries for longer if you do warm-up and cool down before and after practice. 

Experts recommend, keeping practice sessions quick, short, and productive works the best for people with arthritis.

Explore various playing styles, and see what works best for you. The benefit of adopting a playing style that is more comfortable for your hand is greater if you suffer from arthritis. 

There are some easier playing styles where the way you move your hands across the keyboard follows the same pattern, so you don't require the same amount of mobility.

Use fingering styles that are complacent and comfortable for you as it puts your fingers at ease while playing the piano. There are various traditional techniques that are used by professional pianists, however, you do not need to abide by those. 

Amalgamate various techniques, and run through keys in the same form where you would not need much movement in your fingers in order to switch.

Final Thoughts

For every pianist or anyone who loves playing the piano even as a hobby, it is very detrimental to suffer from a condition called arthritis. Every individual wants to pursue their passion and not being able to do so because of pain is hurtful. 

Henceforth, here we have made a comprehensive list of a few tips and techniques that might help someone who is suffering from any such difficulty. Consulting a professional is recommended in such cases. 

Physiotherapy works like an elixir as it is very effective in treating conditions like arthritis. A very little known fact is that playing the piano does wonders to your body in many different ways, such as it lowers the risk of arthritis, strengthens the muscles, and a lot more. 

For a fact, strong muscles are responsible for the healthy life of joints as well. Moreover, serotonin and dopamine, two major hormones that reduce stress levels are also released while playing the piano.

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