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 Thumb Arthritis
Author: Linda S 
Date:   2021-08-17 02:21

Does anyone have any recommendations for a thumb rest? My arthritis in my thumb is making it more and more painful to play. A friend recommended the Ridenour thumb saddle.

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 Re: Thumb Arthritis
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2021-08-17 02:41

A neck strap may be a good bet.

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 Re: Thumb Arthritis
Author: farabout 
Date:   2021-08-17 02:45

Neck strap, any brand.

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 Re: Thumb Arthritis
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-08-17 04:48

I've always felt "holding" the clarinet to feel more natural. I like the Kooiman Maestro 2. You can position the armature so that the "rest" is at the base of the thumb. A plate is attached to the horn and you just slide the whole thing on and off for play and storage in the case.

...............Paul Aviles

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 Re: Thumb Arthritis
Author: ACCA 
Date:   2021-08-17 14:42


Had good results with a student using this one. a lot cheaper than the Maestro, albeit a little less adjustable. Good luck!

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 Re: Thumb Arthritis
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2021-08-18 23:54

I've got a claritie sling like this:


It's designed to help people with arthritis in the right thumb to keep on playing.

I also have a Kooiman thumb rest.

The combination is brilliant. With the sling I can play the clarinet no-hands, because it holds the whole weight. The Kooiman thumb rest allows me to control the rotation of the clarinet really well.

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 Re: Thumb Arthritis
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-08-20 23:47

Linda S wrote:

> Does anyone have any recommendations for a thumb rest? My
> arthritis in my thumb is making it more and more painful to
> play. A friend recommended the Ridenour thumb saddle.

Linda: Stephen Fox has done some great work making accessories for wind players with your type of limitations.

See if there is anything here that interests you. :)


I use his Neckstrap extension rod (ring mount) with an elastic neck strap.

This may not be right for you, but its appeal to me (the elastic neck strap at least) lies in it allowing the clarinet to move in all directions, including further away than what a conventional adjustable neck strap would allow, essentially making the clarinet feel lighter, but nothing else as it regards being restricted.

Mr. Fox's clarinet support brace may be more to your liking.

Post Edited (2021-08-20 23:48)

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 Re: Thumb Arthritis
Author: Jimis4klar 
Date:   2021-08-22 13:20

I recommend BG C50M or BG CCE If you find It available..

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 Re: Thumb Arthritis
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-08-22 18:30

In a related vein, has anyone run across a support of any kind for mild arthritic pain in the *left* thumb that doesn't interfere with the mobility needed to cover/uncover the thumb hole and press/release the register key?

The ortho I consulted tells me that, technically, it's wrist arthritis, and there _is_ another area on the opposite side of my left wrist near my pinky that also sometimes hurts a little when I play. I've tried the standard wrist supports they sell at Rite-Aid and one similar one a hand therapist gave me. But they get in the way, mostly too bulky, I think, around the palm area. I think supporting the whole wrist structure might help stabilize the tendons, but it can't be at the expense of range-of-motion.

Or maybe "support" in this instance *means* reduced range of motion?

FWIW, I had cortisone injections into it and they gave temporary relief. Maybe that's the best solution on an occasional basis?

How has anyone else dealt with this?


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 Re: Thumb Arthritis
Author: DougR 
Date:   2021-08-23 17:40

first, my thanks to everyone who's contributed to this thread. A year ago I had surgery to correct RH thumb carpometacarpal arthritis, and have been through the mill since then in terms of exercises and adaptive thumb rests. (Did not know about Steve Fox's work, so thanks SecondTry!)

I have the Ridenour thumb saddle, the plastic Kooiman thumb rest, an adjustable thumb rest from Votaw; plus a Buffet adjustable thumb rest on order.

I personally prefer a neck strap (endorsed by my surgeon & hand therapist, by the way, as a way of taking weight off the thumb), so Linda S, that is where I'd start--with a neck strap. My setup is a leather piece (kindly made for me by a student of Jon Manasse's, that is exactly like what he's used in the past) that slips over the conventional thumb rest; the leather piece has a hole at the upper end that accommodates most neck strap hooks; I am DEFINITELY going to order Steve Fox's neck strap extension & see if it works better.

thanks also SunnyDaze--I wish the website had a better picture of the device. Looks promising, though!

The Ridenour thumb rest, unfortunately, doesn't have a secure attachment point for a neck strap, nor does the Kooiman, so that rules them out for me at this point.

One question is, what causes the thumb/wrist pain--the weight of the instrument, or the way we hold our hands to play it? Karl, it sounds like you're trying to work with some sort of splint the ortho made? I am, and while it braces my hand in an orthopedically "correct" position, it's klunky as hell, but my ortho has been willing to tinker with it...but my issues are with my right hand, so that's no help to you, sorry to say. The guy I study with (active Broadway pit doubler) has had a lot of success with Hoshino therapy to deal with trigger finger, and I'm considering it for my issues too. (I haven't had luck with cortisone injections for trigger finger but I do a Hoshino exercise he showed me and that seems to ameliorate it.)

I opted for the surgery originally due to thumb pain when operating the RH levers on a low-c bass clarinet. Post-surgery I have practically no pain doing that (yay) but some fairly intrusive pain playing the other instruments (which I didn't have before) which with time and continued hand exercises, MAY go away. The aftereffects of surgery are just plain unpredictable so I'd advise trying everything ELSE first!

(One considerable benefit of visits to the OT is a suite of exercises that have strengthened BOTH my hands and have made playing generally easier, so there's that.)

So my number one suggestion for persistent hand pain would be to consult with an orthopedist who treats musicians, get a definitive diagnosis so you know specifically what's wrong, and go from there.

Best wishes and best of luck, everybody!!

Post Edited (2021-08-23 17:49)

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 Re: Thumb Arthritis
Author: DougR 
Date:   2021-08-24 04:48

It occurs to me to add that thumb rests can always be relocated--one thing I plan to do when the Fox strap hook arrives is visit my tech, remove the thumb rest entirely, support the horn with the bell on my knee, and see where exactly my thumb prefers to be with my fingers on the ring keys, then put the thumb rest THERE.

A lot of clarinets have the thumb rests far too low, so getting an adjustable thumb rest or relocating a fixed one is entirely do-able, if it results in better right hand comfort.

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