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Kind of a weird, blue-sky question here...

I have a Yamaha Custom Z alto. Over the many years that I've had it, my arthritis has gotten worse... and especially in my left thumb.

My question is: Could the octave key be re-configured so the paddle is welded to the LEFT side of the rod, instead of the RIGHT side, which is how it is now (and how it is on probably all saxophones in the world, I'm guessing).

I realize that the rod depresses a lever on the right side, further up. So if the paddle were on the left, how would the action depress on the right? I don't know, but maybe you do.

The reason I'm asking: If I keep my left thumb closer to the hand, the base of the thumb doesn't hurt. If I stretch it across to depress the octave key, then... ouch!

Alternatively, do you know of an alto make and model that comes from the factory with an octave key that is easier to depress? (i.e., without bending and stretching the thumb)

If you have any comments for me, let me hear them.
Hi, I had similar pain at base of left thumb and eventually found an occupational therapist who sold this brace (from netherlands) that provides enough support. she also gave me some exercises to strengthen the muscle between the thumb and forefinger. This has helped a lot, I still feel it after a longer session but just ice it up a bit. I have a YAS-62 purple logo. hope this might help.
left thumb octave brace.jpg
 

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I've got similar thumb issues resulting from 40+ years of playing vintage saxes equipped with octave keys that were too small &/or hinged on the "wrong" side. In the last few years I've tried various mods with varying degrees of success. Am soon to attempt a new round of mods using Sugru & champagne corks.

I've found it useful, in fact necessary, to visualize thumb motion in all three dimensions. Relative height (i.e., distance from the tube) between thumb rest & octave keytouch determines the angle of stress on the thumb joint. For instance, an up-&-over thumb motion may cause joint pain where an over-&-down motion may not.

Every permutation of player/horn/thumb issue requires a unique solution. Hopefully medical science will find a way to spec & 3D-print individually customized sax keytouch add-ons to help minimize joint damage.
 

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I had the same problem, and cortisone injections worked for years. I had the offending bone removed surgically ~4 months ago, and altho I still have some pain with certain movements, there's almost no pain playing my Mark Vi.
 

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1) A "spica thumb splint" may be helpful, especially if you register thumb joint pain at other times.
2) Look into DMSO as a local anti-inflammatory for arthritis.
3) Ibuprofen is well-absorbed thru the skin. One can snip open an ibuprofen gel cap, and apply some of the gel locally. Effective dose is smaller but concentrated on the local area, and it's not hitting the GI system first.
4) Agree with other posts about modifying the ergonomics of the thumb key setup. Another material that can be useful is plumbers' putty.
 

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I had the same problem, and cortisone injections worked for years. I had the offending bone removed surgically ~4 months ago, and altho I still have some pain with certain movements, there's almost no pain playing my Mark Vi.
How long did it take after the surgery before you could play again? My doc keeps warning me that it is 6-9 months of recovery so I keep deciding to wait and just live with it for now.
 
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