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Aging hands.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Newby6string, Feb 19, 2020.

  1. Newby6string


    Jan 29, 2020
    Okay, I am 62 and I just recently starting experiencing pain in both of my thumb joints which I suspect is arthritis. What do some of you well seasoned bassists do to alleviate the pain in your hands due to age?
    EatS1stBassist and Chris204T like this.
  2. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    At 51, I've been having problems due to post-traumatic arthritis. A severely broken left thumb when I was 14 and right hand index and middle fingers that got slammed in a car door about 20 years ago, have been coming back to haunt me for some years now.

    I'm not sure there's much that can be done, other than exercise. I keep a collection of rubber balls laying around that I use to squeeze when my hands are not otherwise occupied. The idea being to keep them in constant movement and keep the blood flowing. Seems to help a little bit.
    deckstirparnell and MYLOWFREQ like this.
  3. At 55, I ran into that issue a few years ago. Osteo-arthritis in both hand/thumb joints.

    I wear a wrist brace on my left hand and that has alleviated the pain. Your results may vary, but worth a try.

    It's this exact brace, it comes with a thin metal form type insert and I just removed that. I put this on pretty tightly before the gig starts and it's helped alot. Best of luck.

    MYLOWFREQ likes this.
  4. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    61 here. While I am not experiencing any pain, my fingers don't move as fast as they used to so my playing has slowed down. Super fast runs no longer happen for me.
  5. fretlessbass

    fretlessbass Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2010
    Tucson, AZ
    The fact that you only mention your thumbs may possibly indicate a cause other than aging:
    Ideally, the thumb behind the neck should not press hard against the neck; it should just track, more-or-less, behind the middle finger, with no strain:
    Are you possibly pushing into the neck, without realizing? That certainly has happened to me when I get too intense trying something challenging.
    Re your plucking hand: Do you double-thump, or simply use your thumb to pluck, very often? When I've gone for a while without doing this, and return to it--especially double-thumping--it feels great while I'm doing it...and kills me the next couple days; the only solution for me is ibuprofen, ice, and going back into it slowly.
  6. Blueinred


    Mar 12, 2009
    Greater Cincy
    Stumbo likes this.
  7. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, chaat enthusiast Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    You should get it diagnosed and rule out strain from playing technique as mentioned above. I suffer osteo-arthritis in my fingers, and have found some relief from hot paraffin soaks, which was suggested to me when I posted about this on here some time back. Keeping my hands warm all the time helps too. NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen/Alleve) work, but you've got to think about your liver and kidneys with those. Cannabis, eh, I can't tell if it helps or not, at lease for the arthritis. It definitely works for other things. YMMV.
    Stumbo likes this.
  8. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I'm 65 and have been using CBD oil before gigs and it really seems to help.
    alicey, Kukulkan61, Jazzygreg and 8 others like this.
  9. JeroB666


    Dec 22, 2012
    I used to experience joint pains/tennis elbow/hand pains from a life of intense activity (climbing/swimming/mountain biking, etc) and ridiculous amount of playing bass every day for the past 15 years.

    The only thing that has worked for me, and not its not a joke, its hot yoga... It stretched everything from fingers to toes and now nothing bothers me anymore as long as I keep doing it
  10. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I am 63. I didn't know there was anything that can be done about hand pain. I just have been powering through it. And then have a few vodka drinks.
  11. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Same, has also worked well with the trigger finger on my fretting hand.
    jchrisk1 and jerry like this.
  12. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I'm the same age, and don't have thumb problems (at least not yet), but I do have arthritis in other places. Physical therapy is the answer to a lot (but probably not all) of those kinds of problems. The natural reaction to pain is to not move whatever is painful, but if it's arthritis, that's often the worst thing you can do. I cracked a rib 14 years ago, it healed, then a year ago I was locked up and twisted like a pretzel - that injury (which I'd forgotten about) I had been compensating for in little ways for 13 years, without knowing it. Eventually, all that caught up to me. Half a dozen therapy sessions, and a few months of the right exercises at home, I'm in much better shape now.

    The lower joints in your thumb are typically the first joints to wear out in humans - if you think about a thumb opposing 4 fingers when you grab something, it's at a distinct disadvantage in terms of the forces it sees - that's part of why those joints often go first. With all the kids texting with their thumbs nowadays (repetitive stress), I don't want to be around (Actually, I probably won't be) when they reach old age - there's gonna be a lot of stiff and sore thumbs in the old folks homes 50 years from now.
    gregbackstrom likes this.
  13. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    The fact that the OP mentions only his thumbs (see my rationale in the prior post) makes me think it's probably aging - that's the first joints to go much of the time.
  14. dramatwist


    Sep 27, 2019
    72 and I have Peripheral Neuropathy + Arthritis. Prescription meds, CBD, vodka shot every once in a while... otherwise just power through it.
    DavC, MYLOWFREQ, juancaminos and 2 others like this.
  15. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Might be a good idea to visit a rheumatologist.

    I'm 69, and have had troubles with osteoarthritis for some time--including having a total shoulder replacement about three years ago. When both thumbs (basal joint, IIRC) started hurting my GP prescribed a high-powered NSAID, and that helped for a while.

    What I didn't know at the time was that I also had rheumatoid arthritis. Found that out from a rheumatologist, who prescribed something else.

    And +1 to @micguy 's advice to keep moving the parts that hurt, even though that sounds counterintuitive. If you immobilize it, it'll start to freeze up.
    tonym and Ggaa like this.
  16. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    My trigger finger as well.
  17. I'm 59 and have had recent left hand/forearm pain and my solutions are (1) intentionally relax my fretting hand grip, (2) NSAIDS, and (3) -- to my surprise, practice piano.

    I practice bass every day plus enough occasional guitar / piano practice to maintain my (feeble) skills. On days when I practice piano, my bass pain is greatly diminished.
    DavC and Microbass like this.
  18. bolophonic

    bolophonic Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I’m only 49, but my hands are starting to slow down a little from wear and tear.

    When I read the title of this thread, the first thought I had was that if someone wanted to relic their hands, I could recommend accidentally hitting them with a hammer from time to time, snagging them on thorn bushes, removing bits with carving tools, etc. You can really take the shine off that way.
  19. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Actually, my advice is to see someone who knows what they're talking about (Doctor, physical therapist, etc) who will (my guess) probably tell you how to keep moving it. I'm a Physicist, not a Physician. If you want to know how your bass (or amp, or speaker, or gravity) works, I can do that. If you want to know what's wrong with your thumb, and what to do about it, I'm recommending someone besides me be involved.
  20. Age 69. Joints hurt occasionally. Playing guitar, it hurts enough that I must stop for a time (chording) . Bass and piano, not quite as bad. My hands are stiff in the morning and slow to unfold. In bed I try to sleep and stay with my hands flat as under a pillow or something. This helps with occasinal trigger fingers. Personally I am more afraid of my brain turning into the equivalent of oatmeal more than physical limitations. I am not at all contemplating giving up. I gig quite a bit and with outstanding quality musicians. Love to do this.
    vilshofen and kwdhsk like this.

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