Musicians with arthritis


Hi, I thought I should ask if there are any professional musicians in this group who are struggling with arthritis.

I'm a pianist, 63 years old and have been diagnosed with Serogenative IA . My whole body is in pain and when I have flares up it's awfull and I'm extremely tired. My fingers are not much affected although they can become quite stiff at times, I can still play but am no more as flexible. Sitting at the piano does cause stiffness in my leg joints, so I can't sit more than 10 min. at a time. My elbows are also painfull. I'm so scared of being unable to play in the near future. Music is my life!

Since last September, I'm on methotrexate, adalimadub injections, sulafazaline and take painkillers every 6 hours. I had to stop steroids as I now have otosporosis in my lower back. I'm on my 11th injection and the treatment doesn't seem to work. I really don't know where I'm going.

If there are any musicians here, I would be very grateful to hear about their experience.

Thank you.


  • PJoanne
    PJoanne Moderator Posts: 85

    Hello @pianoforte , I'm not a musician but just wanted to drop by to say sorry you are experiencing this pain. The forum is here to listen and support so keep posting and I'm sure that there will be others here who can relate.

    Need more help - call our Helpline on 0800 5200 520 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • Skinny Keef
    Skinny Keef Member Posts: 1,138

    Hi @pianoforte

    I am a musician and multi instrumentalist.

    I have osteo and inflammatory arthritis that makes playing quite challenging. I can no longer stand with a bass or guitar so playing live is no longer possible. Sitting is a little better but I am limited in the amount of time as the longer I sit in one position the worse the pain in my lower back and neck gets.

    Fortunately it hasn’t so far affected my hands too much.

    After giving up playing live I sold nearly all my music gear and didn’t play for a few years, but fortunately I realised that just playing at home for my own pleasure was infinitely better than not playing at all.

    It is often on my mind that one day it may well prevent me from playing at all, but I have given up looking too far ahead and just take each day as I find it due to pain, fatigue and migraines that come from nerve compression in my neck. If I can spend a bit of time playing then I take it.

    I don’t think people realise how debilitating arthritis is, and often dismiss it as just a bit of aches and pains, certainly nothing that would warrant a major change in life style or work.

    I wish you well and hope you can continue playing for a long time.

  • pianoforte
    pianoforte Member Posts: 28

    Hi Skinny Keef,

    Thank you for your encouragement!

    I'm sorry to read you've had to stop performing and slow down your playing.

    I do agree, people don't seem to realise how debilitating this condition is and I must admit I do feel quite isolated. So good to have this group to share a bit!

    Are you on a similar medication as me? My worry is that Im not getting any better. My conditions is rather progressing and that's what scares me most now.

    I do lots of exercises, see a physio, do the advised Versus Arthritis exercises.

    Wishing you strength and courage!

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,731

    Hi there,

    I was never even close to professional but have never and will never lose my love of music.

    Please excuse my lack of time. But I have found some stuff that might be of interest / use

    1. Some former threads on here.
    2. Another website
    3. Try googling 'Physiotherapy for musicians'.

    Good luck!

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Skinny Keef
    Skinny Keef Member Posts: 1,138

    I’ve had a few mri scans and my spine is a bit of a mess with erosion and bony spurs and nerve compression and unfortunately there isn’t a surgery option, so I just have to control the pain and inflammation which I do with tramadol and naproxen, although I don’t take the naproxen unless i have to as it makes me depressed.

    Unfortunately I think we need to come to terms with the fact that it is a progressive illness and learn to adapt our lifestyles to accommodate the pain and limit the progression as much as possible. I know the things that make me worse (too much motorcycle riding, or strenuous activity like bike cleaning or diy) and I steer clear of them as much as I can, except the motorcycle riding.

    I am lucky that I have a wonderful understanding wife and my little boy knows daddy is broken and he doesn’t really panic anymore when my back goes and I end up on the floor in fact he normally just either lays down next to me or pats me and says never mind daddad.

    The key really is accepting and adapting. I felt much better once I had done that. I know I can’t get through the whole day without a rest and I can’t practice whatever instrument is flavour of the month for 12 hours solid like I used to. Frustrating? Yes. But better than giving up completely.

    I also had a long stage of feeling sorry for myself and would often get a case of the “why me”s. Until my doctor explained that due to my stressful career and resulting IBS my body had suffered and a lot of my osteo arthritis could be attributed to that. I somehow felt better once I knew why.

    Just keep on keeping on for as long as you can, but don’t over do it and be kind to yourself. Rest if you need to and realise it’s necessary and nothing to get up tight about.

    That’s how I live these days. Take care and enjoy the piano. I normally play piano in the mornings to warm my hands up before I pick up the bass or guitar, and my son loves sitting with me playing, his favourite note is A0 and he loves the rumble of the bass. Hope he turns out to be a pro bass player like my dad.

  • Skinny Keef
    Skinny Keef Member Posts: 1,138

    That may come across as I only play piano to warm up my hands before doing another instrument which is not at all how i meant it.

    i am not much of a piano player. Certainly would love to be better than i am.

    just to avoid any confusion 😁

  • Airwave!
    Airwave! Member Posts: 2,468

    Hi, I played a banjolele fora few years but stopped when my fingers wouldn’t move quick enough, someone asked if I knew the music but I couldn’t move my fingers quick enough. I’m just about to sell my motorbike, I’m not keeping it ‘just in case’ things improve, my watersports have had too change as well , but if life changes so must I, no sense in hanging onto past glories?

    I am wearing wrist splints now, they stop me hurting as much. MTX and Hydroxychloraquine aren’t working, Naproxen help a little but stops quickly after taking it.

    its a grin, honest!