Originally Posted by Ewo
I've been experiencing pain at the base of my thumbs, on both hands. I'm pretty sure it's arthritis in the basal joint, because 1. I'm 62 and there's a family history, 2. my technique is good (I don't squeeze the neck and my action is set low), 3. my bass is positioned on my body just as Randall Kertz recommended, and I've had it this way for years.
Was wondering if anybody had tried some sort of electrical stim for treating arthritis.
A big thank you to Fergie Fulton for pointing me toward materials in a PM! I've started doing some stretches of the basal joint and the wrist, and it's helping some. Just curious about the electrical stim approach, as well.
Pain intensity is emotion based.
The hard thing abut pain centres is that they can vary within the brain, they can move and be associated with activities with parts of the brain nothing to do with the actual pain centre. The pain is a refered or phantom pain.....but the pain is real, what you will feel hurts, but it should not be there.
I have no experience or info on any 'electric therapies' so research the info and talk to others and make a positive decision to try it or not. Even if it does not work you will not carry the mental baggage of 'maybe'...as in maybe that could have made a difference. Your will power and belief are one of the top things to have in dealing with all pain. If anyone does then please post or point to good links of refrence.
I can speak with confidence on mental side matter due to my personal experience of pain moving away from its centre. So read on and take what i write as my situation, the results i got were from my own personal strengths.......but it is relevant.
Back in June 2008 i broke my neck and suffered terrible nerve damage to my upper body limbs as the fracture was on the right hand side transverse process C7 vertebrae, anterior to posterior, next to my spinal chord.
To cut a long story short, i was always in pain for the first few years of my rehabilitation because i got used to to the pain.
Pain was present in everything in my life, i sat with pain, moved move with pain, slept with pain, practiced with pain and played with pain ever present as i set about trying to re-build my physical skills.
I realised physical skills are perishable, we do not have the rights for them to maintaining what we develop over time and practice forever.....there are levels of ability and use for all....it is about quality of use rather than use.
When the physical injuries were healed i was left with physical limitations, because the nerves were crushed and damaged at C7, also the bone of the transverse process did not heal in line (and with the thickening of the fracture healing) the nerve and blood vessels were being trapped or impinged when ever is used them in certain ways.
Certain deep muscle groups would compress the joint and the injury as they were attached to it or covered it.
So in certain uses,such as lifting my arms away from my side or above shoulder level presented physical problems.
This would present itself as pain, limited quality or weakness in that movement.
So even though i could lift my arms up, i had to real strength in the quality of the action, this also applied to my hands and fingers.
Because in the early years of recovery i played with pain my brain learned to associate pain with it, and as a result i would suffer pain when none should be present, my brain created it to go with the tasks. In later years i under took 'Pain Management' at a Pain Clinic' and re-learned not to associate pain with tasks and actions where it should not be present.
With arthritis the problem can present itself in the same ways, you expect pain so your brain accommodates you with it. The placebo effect can be very useful if re-learning not to have, or feel, as much pain as you think there should be when doing certain things, it can also intensify it to levels of what you believe or expect it to be
This pain is real, we feel it, but the fact is there is no real reason for its intensity, it is not that the pain is not real....it very much is......it is the fact it should not be present where it is.
This is why pain is considered to have an emotional centre because it is the intensity of the pain, not the presence of it we learn can to 'ignore'.
We need to learn not to associate it with what we do, or areas of the body when we do certain actions.
I have no experience of 'electric therapies' but with all treatments, if you believe they will work, you have more chance of them doing so where pain is involved.
This is what pain killers do, they remove the intensity that we feel, so the brain learns to do the job that the drug does.
Side effects are that we can become reliant on any drugs to do the job, so we can learn to become addicted to using drugs to control the pain because we have learned to associate there use with less or no pain....how much of it is actually the drug controlling the pain, how much is it the 'idea' or belief that the drug is controlling the pain becomes the issue?
This is what the pain clinic done for me, i learned not to have pain or associate it with certain physical tasks because there was no physical reason for it being there.
I had no wear and tear causing the pain anymore after i healed but i still had the pain associated with the use because of the original injuries that caused them.....those injuries have long since healed but i still accommodate the pain so to speak.
I changed everything i done as far as what i used to play with (as well as other aspects of my life), different guitars, rigs, set-ups etc, because i had no experience of pain in using them so i could not readily associate or relate pain to them..
So my basses became short scale and lighter, this meant less weight and ease of use and so less pain associating in using them....even though the physical action and the techniques was the exact same....the experience was a remarked difference.
The same with the rig, smaller and lighter to move about, so less strain on my body.
Before with my old rig, i got used to expecting it to hurt, so before i even lifted it i knew it would hurt....so when i did lift it my brain accommodated me with what i was expecting to happen.
Playing was the same, the thought of playing created anxiety of expecting pain which became a reality when i done it.
One of my physical problems was the weight of the bass and playing it down by the nut.
Reaching towards that area did originally involve real pain, because the muscle groups being used to support my extended arm put pressure on my neck.
Using a short scale semi acoustic bass with lighter stings meant i did not reach as far, so there should be less pain and because i understood this....there was less pain, the lighter strings and lower action just meant my weak hands had less strain for fret them.
So i learned not to associate pain with playing these types of bass and set-up and finally learned not to associate pain with any type of playing.
I still suffer the physical problems of my hands not working properly, that will never go away because that is a physical reality, but i do not associate pain with it anymore.
When my playing abilities started to deteriorate because i was doing to much and putting pressure on the injury, it felt that lack of ability, my hands felt slow, clumsy, heavy and painful.
I held on to those learned associations that with the deterioration of ability came pain, (which was true, as there was a real physical reason for the pain to be there, which was to stop me using my upper body and aggravating the injury slowing its healing), bit did not let them go when the injury healed.
These days i can play relatively pain free because i have forgotten to associate pain with using my old set up.
It is the same for us all and is like looking back on things in life that at the time were really bad, but we now view them as not so bad.
My memory has filtered out the bad experiences and all i remember is the good, i see them through a 'rose tinted lens' so they are not as bad as i remember them.
This mental process is part of our bodies natural pain management, it is forgetting how the pain should feel and replacing it with the dominate memories that for forty plus years i played with no pain rather than those 3-4 years i did.....time is indeed a great healer.
So my advice to those that suffer injury and problems is take is slow and sure, do not rush into playing again to fast. I had the advantage of my medical knowledge which reduced the actual physical impact of my injuries and helped me to recover again. I also learned a lot more about the mental side of healing and recovery through the specialists and experts i had access to because i could relate my questions as a direct reference to playing....which at the time none of them had ever considered as issues.
The physical scars heal fast, but the mental ones may take a bit longer if you have lots of them to deal with.
My big problem was that i tried to much to fast, to soon.
I bought into the idea of 'no pain no gain' but my brain did not let that idea go.
Add to this the fact i did not use pain killers for the original injury problems, my physiotherapists at the time did not really understand the mental thought process of a musician, or the hand use we develop, all contributed to my problems.
I was not trying to regain a hand use, but all the skills i learned, this is why our skills are perishable, all the specialists saw was good hand use, not the original hand use, and of course i could not demonstrate what i did have. The specialists saw the hand not the function for its use because that is defined as quality of use and we can all learn improve that....that is why musicians practice.
With that point if ten players all play a song perfect then it is heard that the song is played perfect.... what is not seen is the ability used to do it.
Some of those players may use all of their abilities, some only a little bit and some at all points in between, but they all played the song perfect and that is what they will be judged on, not how much of their ability was used to achieve it.
That is sort of where i am at now, not trying to play how i used to, but learning to play what i do play better and easier, learning to use what i do have....to its full potential.
Like a set of scales, i had a balanced use, but the weight of ability was always on my side.
So when i used play certain parts, it would take 20% of my ability to do it, with 80% not used.
After the accident that ratio was not there as i could not play at all.
Then in time it became 100% to play 100%, so nothing was 'in the tank'. That developed slowly and the ratios fell, so it became 98% to play 2% in the tank, the 95- 5, then 90-10, 88-12, and so on, but i done to much to soon.
My impatience and lack of understanding the bigger picture meant i was doing more bad than good some days when i worked on it....reality is i should have rested rather than push it.....the 'no pain, no gain mentality kicked in.
I am at about a 50/50 use just now as far as some material and styles are concerned, but in others the ratio is much higher or just out of my ability....but it is slowly but surely leaning to cope again, it comes in plateaus of, skills come back, quality of skills improve or skills extended for longer use.
How much effort i put into getting back what i used to do is not my focus, after all i am not going to develop 80% of my abilities not to use them, that was a product of time and opportunity, the wear and tear on my body at my age is never going to allow me that.
The loss or perish of the original skills and abilities were build up over forty plus years, and the hard work done with a young fit body, so it would cause me more problems and injuries to try and re-capture that intensity of playing and practice at my age now and over a few years rather than the lifetime it did take.
I fully accept that as i get older it will get harder on my body, as everything does as we get older, but i do not expect it to be painful, as well as pain free, but i do believe i can manage it all to get the best from it.
In all pain issues two things have to happen, change and the belief of change, just getting on with it, or accepting it is not the way forward.
Add to that the will to accept it and and do what is needed and pain can be managed.....if we are prepared to do what is needed.
If any of this has raised any questions, please post them or PM me and i will try and answer them if i can.