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Discussion Starter #1
30 years ago I broke my right wrist and it has never mended. The bones are crumbling and the wrist is weak. I have full use of fingers however and normally it does not affect my playing - it is as bad as ever it was!:)

Every few years something causes it to flare up and swell, etc. This happened recently and I have not played for a month or so.

I want to get back to playing (the swelling and pain have subsided - not gone, but now bearable). My concern is the weight of the sax on my right thumb causing problems. I play Sop, Alto (mainly) and Tenor.

I am wondering if a harness would help. If I could rest the bow on my body/thigh to take some/most of the weight this may help. Alternatively, is there a device that can help take the weight?

There is no hope for the wrist and eventually the doctor says he will have to 'freeze' (superglue!) the bones together, but that is a last resort. It will not stop movement of my fingers, but will immobilise the wrist.

I need a long term solution that will allow me to continue playing.

Any ideas?

I read the stuff about arthritis, etc and have just started taking Glucosamine to see if that helps.

Looking forward to your suggestions.

Thanks
 

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do you play sitting or standing?

either way, try letting the strap take the weight, and simply rest your thumb on rest. think of it as a thumb rest and not a thumb support to hold the whole horn.

it sounds like you are holding the saxophone up with yoru thumb, try pulling the strap a bit higher, i don't think the harness will make that much difference, it does the same thing as the strap, though you might try it as it may cause the horn to lay differently. i used a harness a few years ago when i broke my neck and was in a neck collar for a few months. i hated using the harness.

good luck, maybe some others will have some other ideas.
 

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Have you tried using a wrist brace like they give you when you sprain it? Or wrapping your wrist like a boxer? You don't have to go all the way around the fingers if you're not fighting, you can just buy short wraps and alternate wrapping around the wrist and around the thumb. That should give you a good deal of wrist support and take some of the weight off of your thumb, as well.

Dan
 

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Forum Contributor 2015, SOTW Better late than neve
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I broke my left wrist two years ago. I have titanium plates in there to show for it. You should be seeing a hand therapist and doing strength exercises if you're not now. This will relieve much of pressure and strain on your wrist by having stronger forearm and hand muscles. The degenerative nature of a joint injury like yours has to constantly worked on to keep you going.

Good luck
 

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You should be able to balance the horn by pushing on the thumb rest rather than supporting the weight of your horn on your thumb. I only learned of this after the first 20 years or so of playing. In your case, especially, it might be useful to have the strap ring relocated, if necessary, to achieve the correct balance to facilitate this style.

Consider using a neckstrap on the sop as well - most easily accomplished with a curved neck sop if that's an option.
 

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I like the idea of relocating the strap ring as well.

You shouldn't be using the thumb to support the horn, it's a anchor for your fingers and nothing more. You can train yourself to use a really light touch on the horn and that would help. Get the spring tension on your horn adjusted for a lighter action.

As far as harness go I use the Gemini harness. I've found that letting out the back adjustment all the way lets the horn hang away from your body the same way a neck strap does. No harness will offer the freedom of a neck strap, but it gets very close. Some people don't like the look of a harness when they're performing and I'll admit I use a neck strap for that. You can use a harness for performing as well, but you'd need to use a smaller neck strap for the alto and perhaps the soprano. George Garzone comes to mind as someone that uses a harness exclusivily, so if it's good enough for him then it should be good enough for just about any saxophonist on the planet.

The soprano saxophone is a evil little thing when it comes to pain. I've found that staying totally relaxed and keeping my elbows supported against the side of my body has helped to get rid of my wrist pain. When ever I brought my elbows out and the bell of the horn up I found that it eventually would make my wrists sore.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the suggestions.

I play both sitting and standing (former when playing lead Alto in a Wind Orchestr and latter when playing in small group in church and with friends).

I do have a sports wrist support that I have been using normally and it has helped, but not yet tried playing.

I do not generally support the weight of the sax on the thumb rest but do tend to push it away from my body with the thumb - habit I suppose.

I will try adopting a different playing stance that reduces the use of my thumb in positioning the sax - I will let the sax rest against me naturally and see how that works. I will also try a wrist support and see what happens.

For the time being I will not try a harness, but will think about it if I experience problems.

I have tried various exercises to keep up the strength in my hand and forearm, but have to be careful because of the damage that already exists.

Am now taking a Glucosamine tablet each day to see if that helps, but have heard mixed reviews of effectiveness.

I will now see how things go and report back if I encounter any positives/negatives about playing with a permanently damaged wrist.

Thanks for the input.
 

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SLoB said:
Am now taking a Glucosamine tablet each day to see if that helps, but have heard mixed reviews of effectiveness.
My father takes that as well. It takes a month or more so see any benefit, assuming you are taking the correct stuff (I don't know which is the good stuff, I don't take it).
 

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SLoB said:
Am now taking a Glucosamine tablet each day to see if that helps, but have heard mixed reviews of effectiveness.
Had a 55 year old friend who was about to go under the knife for the knees he abused in high school wrestling and playing football. Kaiser doc decided to try some OTC glucosmine and chondroitin (sp?). I think he just bought it at Wal Mart! He felt a very discernible improvement in 30 days. After 6 months the decision was made that surgery would not be necessary.

I know the glucosamine and chondroitin works to allow the body to repair the cushion tissue between the bone joints. I'm hoping it will work to alleviate the pain from your wrist injuries as well.

Well, Carl beat me to it. Give it at least 30 days!
 

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If you're taking something for it, try supplementing it with Salmon oil capsules. They're great for you, anyway, and they greatly relieve inflammations and joint pain.

Also, consider playing the horn to the side. Be conscious of not letting it hang too far back so you don't get shoulder trouble, but the angle should allow you to keep a straighter wrist with your right hand. Try just holding the horn, closing your eyes and trying to pinpoint with your senses exactly where you are feeling tension, and experiment with slight position changes to try to alleviate it.

If you have access to it, some classes in the Alexander technique or the Felenkreiss (sp?) Method may serve you well. Sounds kinda like new age mumbo jumbo, but there are some very good techniques in there, especially for musicians, or people who would be particularly vulnerable to repeitive strain injuries. I know a guy who had to stop playing for a year because of tendonitis, studied the Alexander technique, and came back stronger than ever. http://www.tuckerjazz.com/Bio.html
 

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We all typically tense up a lot more than we need to while playing. Correcting yourself and being mindful when you're using more force than is necessary can help prevent those aches and pains and it will in the long run make your fingers faster and more efficient.

I'd check the net for the effectiveness of supplements before you rely on them to alleviate your pain. There's a ton of things on the market that promise what they can't deliver. Personally I don't even take vitamins anymore because of the questionable benefits and possible side affects. Healthy diet and exercise trumps everything the supplement industry has to offer.
 

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I second the wrist brace or taping.
I second the lighter touch too.

No need to try a harness if you ask me. I use that for walking if I have problems with my neck, but it gets harder to play for my hands, because the position is not optimal. I don't think you would benefit from a harness, unless it helps you with a better position. No hurt in trying, but don't put up your hopes too much. Other things might be more effective.

My 2 cents.
 

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I had a bad fall on the 5th, pins in my right hand, hairline fracture on my left little finger, both hands in splints, Can at least hold a coffee cup and remote, but not much else. Am doing finger excercises.
 

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My right wrist is really bad also. I injured it snow skiing many eons ago. Obviously Advil and other anti inflamatory medication will help. Also alternating ice treatment, followed by heat, followed by ice again can help. While your playing try a little wrist wrap. Nothing to big just something to compress the wrist joint together. Even just some athletic tape will do the trick.

This will sound like I think your dumb, but also just try and not injure it. One thing I have found is that trying to pinch and lift with the wrist is asking for trouble. When you are using the wrist alot keep it wrapped good. By supporting the wrist with a wrap you can protect it from a lot of wear and tear.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Its now been a couple of months since I posted and was having problems. Took account of the sound advice given here and have not had problems recently.

I still tend to wrap my wrist with sports elasticated support when playing and this helps. Have adjusted position that I hold horns and that has helped.

I am interested in the hand exerciser but could not find anywhere on the web that sells it in the UK or ships to the UK.

I have not intentionally injured my wrist, but every few years it flares up probably through wear and tear.

For anyone else who has wrist problems I hope the helpful advice given in this thread helps them.

My main regret at present is that due to work and other commitments I have not been able to play as frequently as I would like. That is of course a separate problem that I aim to resolve soon (have recently rented an office in town centre for work and am thinking that when everyone else has gone home I could make as much noise as I like practising - avoids upsetting wife and kids at home!).
 
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