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Advice for Tendonitis and Arthritis

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by bdengler, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    I would appreciate if any of you could share your experience of how you may have addressed tendonitis and/or arthritis in you left hand and kept playing the double bass. I was diagnosed with stretched ligaments and tendonitis in my left index finger knuckle, and pretty advanced arthritis in my left thumb. I feel pain on my left index finger knuckle when I play; frankly, the thumb doesn't bother me. My doctor told me it's a "life style choice" on whether I want to keep playing, and whether I'm willing or able to compensate for these discomforts. So, I'm thinking about making some compromises so that I can continue to play the bass. Here's my solution:

    1.I am looking at some smaller basses, 5/8 size, with 39 inch string lengths to place less stress on the hand. Some of these basses have nice large bodies and sound pretty good.

    2. I am going to place light guage/light tension strings on this bass, probably Corelli 370's or Eudoxas.

    3. I am going to spread out my practices into smaller increments throughout the day to avoid fatigue.

    4. I will be doing hand exercises recommended by my doctor.

    What do you folks think of this strategy? Originally I had thought of switching to cello, but at 53, I'm a mere amateur, and I'm probably too old to start cello and "too old to quit" the bass.

    Many thanks,

  2. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    I'm 52 and have been dealing with tendonitis in my left index finger for about eight years. I had a hand surgeon tell me to find another profession. At that point, I saw an occupational therapist who specializes in hands. She was able to assess my situation and advise me. I was able to keep playing and my situation continues to improve (less trouble).

    The exercises help to strengthen the affected tendons.
    Hand and finger stretches before the gig, ice on breaks if necessary, and ice after the gig. Ibuprofen helps if you really need it, but it's best to lay off that stuff if you can.

    Best of luck to you.
  3. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I think we need a sticky for this subject, which has come up over and over. Just search the past threads for CTS, RSI, Tendonitis. Lots of good answers.
  4. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    I tried to search and I wasn't successful. Probably operator error. :meh: I'm not sure if the other postings included arthritic conditions as well.

  5. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    I dealt with tendinitis/carpal tunnel etc...for seven years. I did every type of therapy, warm up, excercise routine, strech, you name it. All these things kept my problem under control, they helped me get through school and gig around. Recently I got tired of it all and told a surgeon to just go ahead and operate, I paid for the operation because I was not in a crisis at that point. Insurance companies will only pay if you can't hold a cup anymore. Anyway...I love it, I wish I had done it earlier, I can finally practice like a normal human, my hand is strong and fast.

    Doctors were mostly misleading, unsure, and not very knowledgeable. I researched my symptoms on the internet and conducted interrogation sessions when I went to the doctor, and many of them had very little clue. They ordered nerve conduction tests, electromiographies etc...they were all inconclusive, yet, I had carpal tunnel symdrome....it appears that normal people have a greater tolerance to these things, in other words: what is a significant problem for us musicians might be a minor problem for a normal person, and therefore not operation-worthy.

    I am not saying that you should go and get operated right away, but be critical, inform yourself, and don't overrule operations completely.
  6. kraid


    Apr 11, 2003
    What exactly went on when they operated on you, Dr Rod?
  7. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    While I wasn't playing Double Bass...when I used to play alot of long shows I found that staying hydrated had a huge impact on the chronic tendonitis that I was experiencing. I also went to a lighter guage of string.

  8. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    I had various repetitive stress injuries in my hands. Got so bad I could barely eat, brush my teeeth and so on. Turns out the tendonitis, etc. was a symptom of squeezed nerves due to a vertebre misalignment in my neck.

    I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you see a good chiropractor to work on your spine.

    Basically, when you spine or neck is out of alignment, the nerves which pass between the vertebre from the spinal column to the muscles are squeezed. The normal maintenance things your body is supposed to do doesn't happen because of the misalignment and the tendonitis is a symptom of this.

    I tried everything from those listed in one of the above replies to physical therapy to trigger point manipulation to stretching the muscles/tendons to accupunture/pressure and so on. CHIROPRACTIC is the only one that worked because it worked on the CAUSE rather than the SYMPTOM.

    I've gone from being on welfare barely able to lift food to my mouth to playing in a professional orchestra, provide for my family and take care of my house because of chiropractic so don't get uninformed opinions from your "friends" and go to the best chiropractor you can find.

    Treat this decision like it's a matter of death for you and your grandkids - because it is!
  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Sorry, I have'nt checked on this thread in a while. Try this thread- http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=191279&highlight=Carpel+tunnel

    Check out the book that Mark Rubin recommends. It's worked out great for me.
  10. Kam


    Feb 12, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'm just coming back now from about 2 months of barely playing because of a repetetive stress injury. Check out Janet Horvath's book Playing Less Hurt. She's the assistant principal cellist with the MN Orchestra. It's a great book and has tons of references. She also sells this WOW device that words great as a warm up!

  11. To the degree that the condition is a consequence of how you use yourself, you are better off stopping the cause rather than constantly treating the effect, especially a treatment as invasive as surgery. Surgery will do absolutely nothing to eliminate the cause. I teach the Alexander Technique. By restoring my students to homeostasis, my students have healed themselves of various debilitating conditions. There is nothing lost in taking AT lessons. I am my own laboratory. I have skeletal birth defects which bothered me all my life until I became an AT student. AT does not change the defect; it teaches me to respond to it in a healthier manner. It eliminated chiropractic from my life. It also enabled me to discontinue taking asthma medication. That's most of the reason I went back to school to be certified as an AT teacher.
  12. kraid


    Apr 11, 2003
    Don, I've been very interested in the Alexander Technique for some time now. From what I've heard though, you really need a teacher and it's not something you can teach for yourself so I haven't tried taking any books out on the subject or trying to get any videos. Hopefully whatever school I attend next year will have group classes. Would you say that studying it has improved your bass technique at all or has just made your less prone to injuries?
  13. Reading is left brain learning. AT is experiential (right brain) learning. You cannot learn AT by reading about it. Having said that, Body Learning by Michael Gelb is a decent overview for a layman. Just remember, the thing you'll be using for judgement is the thing that has to be fixed.
    AT cannot be learned in a group. It's one-to-one with a teacher
    Both, and more, beyond my wildest dreams.
  14. kraid


    Apr 11, 2003
    Oh, thanks for the info. I always see flyers at MSM for different things like AT and I guess I assumed that they were group classes. I think I'll be looking into it more in a few months.
  15. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    This is interesting:

  16. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I wrote this in a parallel thread. Thought it may be useful.