If you’ve ever experienced pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands, you may suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. While this is very treatable, it can affect your ability the do anything that requires use of your hands, including the piano.
Carpal tunnel can occur in many ways, but a common cause is due to having a misalignment of the wrist which causes pressure on the median nerve in your hand. If your technique is not correct while playing the piano, this can cause carpal tunnel to develop and/or worsen.
Symptoms and Causes
If you are aware of the symptoms and causes of carpal tunnel, you’ll be better prepared to prevent it.
If you experience any of the following symptoms while playing the piano, please stop and seek the advice of a medical professional. The more you play while feeling pain or tingling, the more pressure you will put on the median nerve which can cause swelling in the hand and wrist.
- Burning/Shocking Sensation in the hand and forearm (even the shoulder)
- Weakness in the hand making it difficult to do even simple tasks such as brushing your teeth
These symptoms may come gradually at first and many people report difficult realizing anything is wrong right away.
Sometimes getting carpal tunnel is not preventable. There are many cases where it occurs due to pregnancy, Diabetes, or Arthritis. It is even hereditary, so if you are experiencing these symptoms, you might want to check if you are susceptible to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
How to find relief
Most all cases of piano-related carpal tunnel are due to bad form/technique. Pain is a warning sign and it’s the first symptom of damage and that you should stop.
Here are seven things you can do today to find relief (and most importantly…continue playing the piano)
- Never play if your hands are cold. Move around and get the blood pumping before you play.
- Take plenty of breaks. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. Start with breaks every 5 minutes, and if you can handle that, then increase it to a break every 10 minutes, etc.
- If you are playing a difficult piece of music which causes awkward hand movements, take a longer break to let your hands recover.
- Your arms should rest comfortably in front of you when sitting at the piano. Your wrists and forearms should be level. Keep that in mind as you play so you don’t make any extreme movements that might cause pain. You want the blood flow to be unrestricted to your hands.
- Stop immediately if you begin to feel pain, numbness, or tingling.
- Remove any unnecessary tension while playing. At any moment while playing the piano, stop and do a check on all your muscle groups. Are you tensing up muscles that don’t need to be? Muscles that aren’t being used to play the piano should always be relaxed. This will help you have better overall form as well.
- Play songs that fix your experience level. Playing stuff that is too difficult can be frustrating and can cause you to forget correct posture and signs of problems with technique.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please go see a doctor for proper diagnosis.
Rest is generally the best medicine, but persistent pain could lead to other issues down the road that could prevent you from playing the piano ever again.