Any bassists with carpal tunnel or arthritis?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by whitespikebass, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. whitespikebass

    whitespikebass Boy Orbision

    Feb 19, 2013
    Austin, TX
    I'm starting to worry because my wrists are starting to hurt when I play bass. When I have wide stretches to reach on my fretting hand sometimes I feel a sharp pain in my wrist. Also, my knuckles on the same hand are getting really stiff. When I bend my fingers they sort of pop bent or pop straight. In other words the movement is not smooth.

    I am 32 and my mother has carpal tunnel and I just assume that's what is happening. Is there bass life after this? Has anyone here dealt with that?
  2. PWRL


    Sep 15, 2006
    Carpal tunnel in my right wrist, tendinitis in my left hand, and I am right-handed. What I try to do is stay limber, stay hydrated, get the right nutrition (it does help) and not overdo it when I'm not at work or practicing. Massages have been noted to help, as well.
    I can't say for the arthritis thing, but I do know that many players have these issues and play regardless. One thing I had to do was switch from basses that didn't suit me to those that did. But I figure, as long as my hands are attached and working, there's a way to play. And so far there is.
  3. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    26 years old and was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists when I was 14.

    First things first, GO SEE A DOCTOR. What you have doesn't sound like CTS.

    But if it is CTS, there is life after. I played for 8 years after my diagnosis with only minor changes to posture and strap position. I ended up lowering my strings and playing with a much lighter touch, and by paying closer attention to the signs my body was giving me, I was able to manage through the pain.

    Now nearly 13 years after my diagnosis, I still have had zero surgery and maybe one or two flareups a year, which are not related to my bass playing whatsoever.

    Second bit of advise: learn the RICE method, when you're concerned about any sort of repetitive motion stress or injury. REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, ELEVATION. Rest often, and sometimes this means practice less. Ice when you're feeling the pain to reduce swelling. Use compression (I used to use wrist bands while performing or long practice sessions) and elevate whenever possible.

  4. bassplace

    bassplace Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    600mg ibuprofen an hour before you play.

    Need to find what works for you. Better bass, drugs, diet... Don't give up!
  5. whitespikebass

    whitespikebass Boy Orbision

    Feb 19, 2013
    Austin, TX
    Thanks everyone. What kind of doc would I see for this?

    I can't change my bass. I've been playing the same Ric for almost 18 years! The neck is a bit wide though and the frets seem to be wider than on my P-bass. Still…

    tpylons - I thought I was too young to have this! Guess I was wrong! Good on you for keeping it up. I guess I need to go see a doc. It isn't new, just getting worse. I haven't been able to sit and lean back supporting myself with my hands for a few years. Because of that sharp pain in my wrists. The finger stiffness is new though.

    I swear between this and a bum back from my SVT - aging isn't practical for playing bass!
  6. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Start with your GP, s/he can direct you to the right kind of doctor. If it is in fact carpal tunnel syndrome, you may be directed to a neurologist, if its suspected to be something else, you may be directed to an orthopedist.
  7. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I've had carpal tunnel surgery. What you are describing does not sound like carpal tunnel at all.
  8. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    search natural cures for srthritis and tendonitis.
  9. Ziltoid

    Ziltoid I don't play bass

    Apr 10, 2009
    21 yo. with carpal tunnel. **** me.
  10. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    The proper doctor to see for joint pain is a Rheumatologist.
    Been there, done that.
  11. DavidEdenAria


    Dec 13, 2013
    On a Hill
    Be careful with overdoing NSAIDS long term....which many do because they are over the counter for years now.

    Diet, warm ups, light exercising and stretching are essential.
  12. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Also, don't get so hung up on staying in one position when you play. Move your arm when there's a big jump.
  13. Wally Malone

    Wally Malone

    Mar 9, 2001
    Boulder Creek, CA
    AFM International Representative Endorsing Artist: Accugroove Cabinets & MJC Ironworks Strings
    I had trigger finger on the middle finger of my right hand. Two shots of cortisone five weeks apart and taping the finger each night when sleeping worked. So far so good, but I did notice when I didn't tape it while sleeping for a few nights it didn't feel as good.

  14. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I have trigger finger in my left pinky. I use Capzasian and warm the fingers before playing.

    I tried strap height, made no difference. The arthritis is in my family. Battling multiple myeloma too.

    Will probably see a specialist regarding the arthritis-trigger finger thing.

    I just take warming up lightly at first. Set the action on my basses as low as possible. Try not to press so hard on my fretting hand.
  15. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    My wrists and fingers feel stiff often. I also have a lot of issues w my right elbow but I think that's due more to my amateur golf career. I simple don't practice anymore. The only time I play between gigs is if I need to learn new material. Sucks but it's that or go out of business
  16. RedsFan75


    Apr 26, 2007
    I was diagnosed about 10-12 years ago with systemic, degenerative osteoarthritis and moderately advanced carpal tunnel syndrome. The arthritis is affecting most of the joints, including the spinal column. Lot's of daily life problems but bass playing issues focus mainly in a couple of areas. Obviously carpal tunnel affects the hands, but the arthritis affects the fingers with swelling and stiffness, and my left shoulder deals with bad inflammation. Fingers so swollen and stiff that in the morning when I get up, affects daily tasks like shaving, making coffee etc...

    If I'm not a slave to technique the carpal tunnel makes my hands go numb while I'm playing and has happened to me 4 separate times on stage. What can I say I get into the music and don't focus on the strict technique! :D

    I've done lots of things to keep playing and keep active, all under my doctor's supervision, such as change my diet (diagnosed with Celiac disease), wear braces, exercise, lose weight, go with lighter gear, short scale basses, reduce playing out, etc...

    I could keep going, but the challenges to play have really started to snowball, and I start asking myself when do you hang it up and call it quits?

    By all means see your doctor. Get checked out, don't stop until you get answers and take care of yourself.