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Unread 05-08-2009, 01:22 AM   #1
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Tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel, The end of a guitarists legacy?

Carpal Tunnel.. The scariest thought for a guitarist.. along side with Wrist tendonitis.

Both of these things disable your ability to play guitar.. and leave you in SO much pain.

I have dealt with this crap for about a month or so now.. and it's starting to scare the hell out of me.. You know.. I have dreams just like anyone else.. I want to practice guitar every day just like I do.. and I want to make legacy for myself.. even if it's not something HUGE.. I just want to push and push with my drive in music.

Yet something like this just puts a halt to my dreams?

I constantly wonder about the injuries that can ensue on gutiarists and other musicians like myself. What happens now?

We are told your body slowly decays as it is.. if you don't take care of it.. all you are doing is speeding up the process.

How am I supposed to stop my dreams? I don't want to stop. I want to push forward..

So my question to you guys is.. do you know anyone who has been through these injuries and pushed through? Or do you have any words of wisdom or enlightenment?

I'm just so bummed.. I have so many ambitions and I spend hours upon hours setting up music.. only to be left with horrible wrist pains and finger soreness.. I hate it.

Any words are great.. and help is appreciated..

I hope I hear some responses to pull me out of the gutter..
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Unread 05-08-2009, 02:03 AM   #2
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Take a 15 minute break for every 30 minutes of practicing... no matter what... that 15 minute break will save your ass... it's how classical musicians, at least the professional ones, keep themselves from getting injured.

Weightlifting and a full motion cardio exercise will also help strengthen muscles - which support and give strenght to joints - and lengthen tendons/muscles which lessons the chances of hyper extension. Also, exercise increases blood flow/circulation which helps your muscles/joints/tendons with flexability, strength and brings them increased nutriants - all of which reduces the chances of injury.

Also, practicing 17 hours a day isn't going to do anything for you if you hurt yourself. So limit the practicing and hone in on what you really need to work on instead of practicing all over the place every day.

Refine your exercises into 7 day a week routines and try to keep repetition down on consecutive days

e.i. Speed drills on Monday - Flexibility on Tuesday - Sweeps on Wednesday - Tapping on Thursday

e.i. NOT Speed drills on Monday - Speed Drills on Tuesday - Sweeping on Wednesday - Sweeping on Thursday

Also, lessen the amount of practice you do on a daily basis and just make sure you practice every single day. 3 hours 7 days a week is much more useful than 5 hours 4 days a week.

That's all I've got, these were the suggestions given by doctors in a music magazine I read.

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Unread 05-08-2009, 02:19 AM   #3
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I have that shit in my neck, bottom of my back and torax......

I cant stand up statically for more then 5 mn without having huge back pain.....

So I may never be able to perform on stage unless sitting down
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Unread 05-08-2009, 02:22 AM   #4
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My hands seem to hurt when I play any acoustic guitar, even with thinner strings. I hope I don't have this!
BTW- I wish every guitar player NEVER gets that!

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Unread 05-08-2009, 02:52 AM   #5
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Tendonitis can be massivey helped by regular physiotherapy, mine almost disappeared when I was having physio 2/3 times a week. The problem now is finding the time and money for it. Carpal Tunnel I believe is more serious, and generally needs surgery to be resolved...

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Unread 05-08-2009, 02:53 AM   #6
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I know exactly what you are going through: I have carpal tunnel, and my hands like to go numb while I'm playing, particularly if I haven't been taking care of my hands properly or didn't do any warm up exercises. I wear wrist braces all the time (Which seems to slightly affect my hand strength in a negative manner for some reason, but greatly reduces pain and numbness. If you plan on purchasing these, I do not recommend just buying the cheapest ones on the shelf. I paid like $50 for the two of mine, but they are comfortable and keep me in good shape.) and I highly recommend that you soak your hands in some warm water before you start playing.

Also, unrelated to playing the instrument, when you use the computer, be sure that you are using ergonomic posture and stuff to keep your wrists safer. This is of utmost importance.

And, like others have said, don't be afraid to take breaks when ya need em. I don't have many problems playing for hours at a time with very minimal pain and numbness, and I've been dealing with this stuff for a while now (Just over a year.). At first, it was rough because I still didn't really take care of my hands and I was just generally terrified about the whole thing, but once I began to treat myself properly, I was fine to play.

So, try not get really down over the whole thing just yet. Although it can be a big deal depending on the severity, you should be able to play just fine if you take care of yourself and get a good feel for when you really need to stop playing for the day.

P.S. I just remembered this but couldn't find a good place in the post to put it, but I'm pretty sure that Steve Morse has carpal tunnel and he seems to play alright.

Edit: Oh, also if you keep getting that "shock" thing through your arm when you go to play (It tends to do it to certain chords for me when I haven't been taking care of myself.), I've found that including problem chods/positions into your warm-up routine can help you play those painlessly later if you need to (Not a guarantee, but it does help me.).
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Unread 05-08-2009, 03:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ......... View Post
I have that shit in my neck, bottom of my back and torax......

I cant stand up statically for more then 5 mn without having huge back pain.....

So I may never be able to perform on stage unless sitting down
I feel ya man.. I have the same issue on top of knee issues
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Unread 05-08-2009, 05:36 AM   #8
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I've got tendonitis in both wrists, but i continue to play my bass regardless...
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Unread 05-08-2009, 08:27 AM   #9
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Just about every case I've heard of, people basically just play through the pain if they have to. There are lots of preventative measures you can take, as already outlined by other posters before me, but even then it's just something that most of us have to deal with.

Les Paul's whole ....ing arm got crushed in an auto accident. Didn't stop him for long.

I've got all kinds of weird issues happening with my hands that I've been putting off going to a doctor for for the last several years. Can't move my fingers in the same directions as I used to be able to, I've lost almost ALL of that chunk of muscle between the thumb and first finger on my left hand and have no idea why, I get random shots of joint pain.. Sometimes, on either hand, *all* the muscles in the hand will suddenly -- out of nowhere -- completely seize up for a few seconds, kind of like a Charlie Horse, but in my hand. Hurts like a mofo when that happens, and it's always disorienting because basically, I don't remember my brain telling my hand to do anything, but it does it anyway, and when my brain starts telling my hand 'stop that shit, relax', it won't do it -- As if the muscles in my hands have a mind of their own, or something.

Anyway, point being that I still play, regardless. I love it so much that I don't let the pain stop me. Sure, it effects HOW I play, but I still play.
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Unread 05-08-2009, 09:25 AM   #10
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I really appreciate it guys.

I will just have to teach myself how to take care of my body and get a routine going.. I'm going to see my chiropractor again this afternoon to see what I can do.

We tested all my nerves last time to see if I had anything going on,.. as if I had anything being blocked.. and I checked out just fine. My main concern is that of preventing the pain from reocurring and isolating the issue.

I have really weird wrist.. I have a lot of loose ligaments in my wrist.. where if I just move my wrist in a weird way they make a pop noise almost like I'm double jointed.

I may just started working out or something.. Lifting small weights with my hands to help the wrist and push the tendons closer together.. and doing some cardio to help the bloodflow.

I just never hear of any of our "Guitar heros" fighting any of these causes.

The ONLY real case I've heard of something similar to this was yes.. of Les Paul.. and of Dave Mustaine. His nerve problem and what not.

Maybe rest.. and working on my muscles and core well being will help me get a better lifestyle in my playing.
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Unread 05-08-2009, 09:33 AM   #11
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I have really weird wrist.. I have a lot of loose ligaments in my wrist.. where if I just move my wrist in a weird way they make a pop noise almost like I'm double jointed.

I may just started working out or something.. Lifting small weights with my hands to help the wrist and push the tendons closer together.. and doing some cardio to help the bloodflow.

I just never hear of any of our "Guitar heros" fighting any of these causes.

The ONLY real case I've heard of something similar to this was yes.. of Les Paul.. and of Dave Mustaine. His nerve problem and what not.

Maybe rest.. and working on my muscles and core well being will help me get a better lifestyle in my playing.
Your wrist problem sounds identical to a shoulder problem I have. When they do the 'popping' thing, does it hurt? (Not that I know how to diagnose it or anything -- I'm just curious..)

As far as other cases in famous players go, I remember pretty well an old interview with J and Sean from White Zombie. Both of them had terrible carpel tunnel because they used way thicker strings than they really needed to, or at least that was their take on it. Neither one of them really did anything about it, either -- if memory serves. They just played, hurt, and compained about it afterward. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that's the way to go because it isn't. I'm just saying it's a much more common thing than we might be giving it credit for. I could even go so far as to say that anybody who has played almost daily for any number of years is probably dealing with something similar.

Almost ALL the classical musicians I know have some degree of carpel tunnel, arthritis, or both. Especially the ones who play stringed instruments.
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Unread 05-08-2009, 09:36 AM   #12
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I feel ya man.. I have the same issue on top of knee issues
funny thing is doctors say its psychologic until you go and have an x-ray, then they eventually shit the .... up and notice that you have a problem...

At least this is how it happens in switzerland, then usually you end up having to pay a bill of 600 dollars which is covered by the insurance.
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Unread 05-08-2009, 09:51 AM   #13
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funny thing is doctors say its psychologic until you go and have an x-ray, then they eventually shit the .... up and notice that you have a problem...

At least this is how it happens in switzerland, then usually you end up having to pay a bill of 600 dollars which is covered by the insurance.
It's the same in the States -- to a point.

We have to basically diagnose ourselves, like you said; force them to do the tests we know we need to have to prove that we have whatever problem we know we have.

Where it becomes different is that when we get the bill, our insurance usually won't cover it, because they're ..........s. There are 2 things in America that are virtually guaranteed to be a waste of money: Insurance (it's great until you get sick/have an accident/whatever) and warranties (they're great until something breaks).
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Unread 05-08-2009, 03:37 PM   #14
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My wrist don't hurt at all when it pops.. just the sound of popping.. pretty bad actually..

Went to my chiro and they used a lazer on my wrist and said I need to take some b6 pills like 5 times a day and keep coming back every week to try and fix the ordeal.

They should take care of me.. but its FOR SURE carpal tunnel and I have it bad.. but in the beginning stages.
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Unread 05-08-2009, 04:51 PM   #15
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Despite what others have said about "playing through the pain", i would think long and hard before taking that approach. Doing so might lead to more serious injury and not being able to play at all.
I would suggest the following:

1- Take a break from playing for a week or two. Yes, it will suck not being able to practice, but use this time for something else- do ear training, practice singing, compose music on the computer or a sequencer (or a piece of staff paper!), etc.

2- When you resume practicing, take it SLOW. Start out with maybe a half hour a day, and build it up from there

3- Stretch your wrists before you start practicing. Bend them backwards and forwards (GENTLY, NOT TOO FAR), and hold for 5 seconds. Then make fists and rotate your wrists in circles slowly in one direction, then the other. Finally, gently shake out your wrists for a few seconds.

4- Take breaks while practicing. I would say practice for a half hour, take a 10 minute break, repeat. After a while, if you're not having problems, i would say it's okay to practice for 45 minutes, then take a 10 or 15 minute break.

5- ALWAYS WARM UP BEFORE TRYING TO PLAY FAST/DIFFICULT PASSAGES!!!!!

6- Try and maintain good posture while practicing- this includes the way you're holding the neck. Is your wrist at a weird angle while you're fingering the neck? Try and find a position that allows you to keep as straight a line as possible from your forearm to your palm.

Good luck, and be careful.

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Unread 05-08-2009, 08:41 PM   #16
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Pains in my fingers, wrist, arms, neck and back (lol) ended my guitar playing last May (roughly) - right after i got my sodding B7 as well - and it wasn't carpal tunnel or tendinitis related in my case, but problems stemming from this joint-hypermobility I've got yadda yadda...bottom line is, it sucked, being in pain after playing for 5 minutes killed any enjoyment I got from the instrument. I sold all my guitar related gear, which wasn't nice...but it feels like a weight's been lifted now, I don't really miss it too much as a composer and I get a lot of enjoyment from the piano, which I can still play.

That's my story anyway

Shadowlife's advice seems really good I agree and certainly would not just play through the pain. Take a break, pursue treatment, and make sure your form/posture is good whilst playing...if you have pain it means there's damage and it is likely to get progressively worse if ignored.

I'd say that Powerballs are definitely worth a try too, they couldn't help me as far as guitar pain went, but they do really strengthen your lower arms, improve circulation and help your wrists move smoothly and more fluidly. I've heard they have done wonderful things to some people suffering with nerve damage, shocks, carpal tunnel etc. (just make sure you do use it evenly and not just on the affected arm...you'd be surprised how rapidly it increases muscle and you don't want one arm bigger than the other )
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Unread 05-09-2009, 02:04 AM   #17
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All you guys need to get one of these!

NSD Powerball Gyroscope for sports and fitness, carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, tendonitis, wrist pain and grip strength

I was having really bad wrist pains due to a new job where I had to type a lot. I found out about these and decided to try it. It helped so much! The pain is gone and I can tell that my hands are getting stronger. I know some other people on here have used them too and their pain hasnt come back either.
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Unread 05-09-2009, 02:26 PM   #18
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Geez. Which one? There are a shit ton of them... hahaha!

I wouldn't mind getting one if it helps.
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Unread 05-09-2009, 04:01 PM   #19
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when I started to play really early on my wrist hurt but then I started to do physical exercise more, pull ups, push ups.. etc. It helped so much. You can't really strength train fingers playing guitar because they have no muscles in them, its more effective to do a full forearm exercise like a pull up because the gripping part attacks the entire connective muscles to the fingers. Or even wrist flexing. I find finger push ups work the best.

This coming from someone who before even touched a guitar was on the computer pretty much all day playing Online games. I wouldn't doubt if I got carpal tunnel but definitely don't have it anymore.
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Unread 05-09-2009, 04:27 PM   #20
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Fenrisulfr, did you get another nerve conductivity test? That's the most foolproof test to determine whether you have CTS. That's a very specific condition that more often results in numbness than pain. If you are having pain without numbness when you play, it might be something else--probably tendonitis.

I came down with CTS about seven years ago. I cured it without surgery by (a) completely stopping guitar and doing "hunt and peck" typing until the numbness went away (took about a month or two), and then (b) switching to really really thin strings (8's) and really really low action, and (c) not practicing repetitive stuff for 8 hours per day. You absolutely do not need to practice that much in order to become good, so long as your practice is focused. Frankly, once you've achieved a certain proficiency, I think that much repetitive practice is counter-productive, since you should also be focusing on the nuances and 'musical stuff'.

Even if your problem is tendonitis rather than CTS, I'd recommend the same thing. I do NOT recommend the CTS surgery until you've tried other things, since it is irreversible and can do permanent damage to the motor ability in that arm, and doesn't always work.

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Unread 05-10-2009, 03:36 PM   #21
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Fenrisulfr, did you get another nerve conductivity test? That's the most foolproof test to determine whether you have CTS. That's a very specific condition that more often results in numbness than pain. If you are having pain without numbness when you play, it might be something else--probably tendonitis.

I came down with CTS about seven years ago. I cured it without surgery by (a) completely stopping guitar and doing "hunt and peck" typing until the numbness went away (took about a month or two), and then (b) switching to really really thin strings (8's) and really really low action, and (c) not practicing repetitive stuff for 8 hours per day. You absolutely do not need to practice that much in order to become good, so long as your practice is focused. Frankly, once you've achieved a certain proficiency, I think that much repetitive practice is counter-productive, since you should also be focusing on the nuances and 'musical stuff'.

Even if your problem is tendonitis rather than CTS, I'd recommend the same thing. I do NOT recommend the CTS surgery until you've tried other things, since it is irreversible and can do permanent damage to the motor ability in that arm, and doesn't always work.
Well I get some numbness in my pinky when I play and afterwords.. it's almost more like aching though.. dull annoying aching.

The pain is more specific to my fingers.. it may even be just tendonitis or something I suppose.. even when I lean my arm out the window and pressure is on the forearm.. or when I roll over at night.. I can feel my middle and ring finger start to hurt a bit.. and also my wrist.

I just have such high ambitions and goals I'm trying to do anything I can to make a name.. even if it means practicing my ass off.. but..

It's not going to do me any good if I can't play I suppose.

It's just weird. I haven't been doing too many things lately that are exactly physical.. and my hand hurts.. I had a very bad drug problem that I have been done with for 1 and a half years (coke) and now that I'm done and have recovered.. it seems as if my body took one hell of a beating.

I don't exercise ever.. I used to sit at my computer all day and play Everquest and WoW.. It's pathetic.. I'm trying anything I can to help my body.. I just don't know what else to do?

I need to find some way to help heal my wrist and fingers.. it even hurts sometimes in my forearm..

Any other advise would be great.. I would hate to eliminate guitar.. because I'm a major at school for it.. I play in a band heavily.. and I'm a recording engineer.

Are there any exercises that I could do to help my pain/numbness and help recovery? I'm still taking about 5 b6 pills a day.. and going to the chiro will be regular starting every friday now.

Blegh.. even after typing this.. just below my wrist burns.
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Unread 05-10-2009, 03:41 PM   #22
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I'm going to hospital for x rays tomorrow morning

Because I have this shit in my torax and bottom of the back like I mentioned, i'm in such pain you cant imagine...

Looking forward to the results and to see my bones
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Unread 05-10-2009, 05:48 PM   #23
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Sadly it was tendonitis that ended Demonaz' role as guitarist in Immortal
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Unread 05-10-2009, 11:37 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fenrisulfr View Post
Well I get some numbness in my pinky when I play and afterwords.. it's almost more like aching though.. dull annoying aching.
That's probably not CTS, then, since numbness with CTS is almost entirely in the thumb and index fingers. There's a separate condition that affects the pinky, however. Of course, a real doctor is the only one who can properly diagnose you. Be careful, though, because a lot of them will push the CTS surgery on you if you have that condition--and you can often get better without it if you change your habits.

I hate to say it, but the best thing you could do is to stop playing RIGHT NOW and not even think about starting up again until your symptoms go away. Your condition will just get worse and worse unless you do. You've got what is basically a sports injury and your body needs to heal from the damage. Once you start playing again, you need to do it gradually and work on lessening the stress. When I made the changes I described in my last post, I got the ability to play fast stuff for a very long time. I still occasionally get a slight numbness, but that is probably just residual damage. I'm 41 years old now, and I can already feel the first signs of arthritis in my fingering arm and shoulder, but that's just cumulative wear and tear and not CTS.

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Unread 05-11-2009, 12:05 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacksonplayer View Post
That's probably not CTS, then, since numbness with CTS is almost entirely in the thumb and index fingers. There's a separate condition that affects the pinky, however. Of course, a real doctor is the only one who can properly diagnose you. Be careful, though, because a lot of them will push the CTS surgery on you if you have that condition--and you can often get better without it if you change your habits.

I hate to say it, but the best thing you could do is to stop playing RIGHT NOW and not even think about starting up again until your symptoms go away. Your condition will just get worse and worse unless you do. You've got what is basically a sports injury and your body needs to heal from the damage. Once you start playing again, you need to do it gradually and work on lessening the stress. When I made the changes I described in my last post, I got the ability to play fast stuff for a very long time. I still occasionally get a slight numbness, but that is probably just residual damage. I'm 41 years old now, and I can already feel the first signs of arthritis in my fingering arm and shoulder, but that's just cumulative wear and tear and not CTS.
I've stopped playing for the past 2 days.. AGAIN.. did this last time..

Such a pain in the ass.. everyone tells me to get a nerve test done or something.. but idk who to go to.. Every doctor is wrong everyone says.. it's all ....ed up.

I just want to fix what's wrong.. or suffer continuously.. I want to be able to get over this crap..

I don't know if I should lift weights for my forearms and wrist to help build muscle..

I don't know what to do.

I sit here in pain.. worrying.. and waiting to see who I should spend my money on to see and get diagnosed/treated.. stupid lack of insurance.
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