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Carpal tunnel help

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Doctor Intrepid, Jan 19, 2018.


  1. Doctor Intrepid

    Doctor Intrepid

    Dec 27, 2017
    I started playing recently after a 25 year absence. Unfortunately in that 25 period I developed carpal tunnel syndrome a bit. Now it acts up from playing. Any recommendations in regard to techniques that would be helpful in mitigating it would be much appreciated. For example, playing techniques or exercises when not playing.

    Thank you in advance!


    Cheers,
    DI.
     
  2. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    First, are you certain it is carpal tunnel syndrome? I see a lot of people thinking they have carpal tunnel syndrome, but they really have another problem... Like a pinched nerve in the spine, arthritis, or a trigger finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome would present as mostly numbness in the thumb, index, middle, and half of the ring finger next to the middle finger with some thumb weakness. People may drop things and symptoms tend to be worse at night. Carpal tunnel syndrome does not have much to do with actual strength, but more with sensitivity.

    If this is the case and you have diabetes or thyroid problems or it has been going on for a long time, you should have surgery to prevent permanent loss of muscle at the base of the thumb.

    If this is new, most effective things are going to involve anti inflammatory medicines (ibuprofen or naproxyn), rest, carpal tunnel splinting, and patience. You would benefit most from wearing a splint all the time, but especially at night. Medicines should be taken routinely for 2-4 weeks. With that you can often reverse the symptoms.

    The problem is related to a nerve getting pinched in the wrist. It swells and then can't send signals properly. If you stop the treatment early, before the swelling is gone, it sells back up and starts all over again.

    But make sure you have a proper diagnosis. That is most important. You also shouldn't take any medicine that you aren't allowed to... For allergies or whatever.
     
  3. Doctor Intrepid

    Doctor Intrepid

    Dec 27, 2017
    Thank you! I've been doing some reading and maybe it is not CTS that I have. I do get tingling sometimes, but it is mostly pain in the writs and forearm that I'm experiencing. Sad to say, but I got it from playing computer games. Anyway, playing games, writing and playing bass all cause pain. So it is related to finger movement and possibly bending my wrist. If you have any advice for that I would greatly appreciate it. Also, I've had this for years without it being debilitating, which makes me think it is not CTS too.
     
  4. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    Generally, carpal tunnel syndrome would not cause pain in the wrist or forearm. It is impossible to say what the cause is without a visit to the doctor. Most of the time, diagnosis can be figured out from physical examination, though sometimes other tests might be warranted.

    It is difficult to diagnose something over the internet. In the forearm or wrist, it could be a torn ligament, a tendon problem, a muscle problem, nerve compression, arthritis, or other issues.
     
  5. Doctor Intrepid

    Doctor Intrepid

    Dec 27, 2017
    That makes sense. I should likely get a physician to look at it.
     
    basted, Artman and Old Garage-Bander like this.
  6. fearceol

    fearceol

    Nov 14, 2006
    Ireland
    I'm sure you'll get lots of well meaning advice here, but as you have not received a definitive diagnoses from a professional, this advice may not be very beneficial.

    I'd suggest seeking professional medical advice which is tailored to your specific requirements.
     
  7. I was diagnosed by a specialist and found that I did have CT. It was relieved with a wrist brace at night giving the wrist 8 hours of rest. The next thing we did was to eliminate what is causing the CT. In my case that was fretting chords for the rhythm guitar. I'd been doing that for 17 years with the same Country band. And my wrists at that time were 82 years old. As I had been playing the same 50 +/- songs for 17 years I figured that was enough rhythm guitar, so I stopped playing rhythm guitar. CT went away.

    CT is not a problem on the bass, because I fret one note at a time.

    If you plan to keep doing what is causing your pain.........

    Seek medical help.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
  8. I agree with all of the advise suggesting you seek proper medical attention.
    I have had CTS and there is a very specific test for checking nerve conduction that will confirm or rule out that particular problem.
    If it is CTS, the surgery is not difficult from the patient standpoint and almost always results in full recovery, pretty quickly.

    I would suggest you start with your primary care physician and discuss the problem and symptoms.
    Include your thoughts about CTS.
    The PCP's job is to steer you to the right specialist based on these discussions and his own initial exam.

    You should not pick a specialist based on a self diagnosis.
    It could be a waste if time and money.
    Most specialist probably would want you to see a PCP first before coming to them.
     
    Artman likes this.
  9. Dirt simple answer about the surgery; they split (cut open) the tunnel so all the wrist/finger tendons can now get through that tunnel - with ease. This seems to eliminate the problem.

    Seek medical help.
     
    fearceol likes this.
  10. delta7fred

    delta7fred

    Jul 3, 2007
    England
    There is nothing like removing the cause.

    Long story most of it not relevant here. I was working long hours at a PC using the mouse a lot and developed CTS in both wrists because I would swap hands with the mouse every 20 minutes to ease the discomfort.

    We were not allowed to use anything not provided by the IT outsource company so I had to use a tiny little mouse and have quite big hands. Buying my own was not allowed, believe me I tried but was up against big company mentality.

    Splints helped and I used them every night and whenever I could during the day. I had cortisone injections in my wrists that hurt like hell but did nothing to ease the CTS and was down for surgery when I got the chance to take early retirement, and took it.

    Within 3 months the CTS was almost gone and I took myself off the surgery list. I now use the biggest mouse I can find, a gaming mouse with fancy lights and lots of buttons, and have been CTS free for 16 years.
     
  11. bassgirls

    bassgirls

    May 24, 2014
    California
    Sit in proper playing position, maybe like a classical guitarist. Stretch before playing and after. Maybe adjust your technique and use the pinky more so there are no huge stretches, etc. It might be muscle fatigue, tendonitis, or a pinched nerve! I would avoid the surgery at all costs. If your body hurts always stop at that moment and come back to it later.
     
    Doctor Intrepid likes this.
  12. bumperbass

    bumperbass

    Jun 19, 2012
    At what angle is your wrist when you play? How high do you wear your bass? Which hand is it? You never said.
     
  13. Doctor Intrepid

    Doctor Intrepid

    Dec 27, 2017
    Thank you for asking those questions. I typically wear the bass around my waist. My forearm has been resting on the bass, and it is a bass with edges. My wrist was also bent. I think all of these things have inflamed an injury that was already there, so I've been experimenting with varying my technique all weekend. I've been trying to keep plucking arm as straight as possible with the forearm not resting on the bass. I also raised the bass a bit and am now playing it at a 45 degree or higher angle. It seems to be helping. I'm going to take three days off from playing and return to this technique to see if it will work. It feels a bit strange, but my plucking arm feels much better.
     
  14. bumperbass

    bumperbass

    Jun 19, 2012
    I only asked because I experienced pain in my wrist on two back-to-back gigs about 3 years ago (or more). It really freaked me out because we were loaded with gigs. I lowered my bass to take away the curve at the wrist joint and I've been OK ever since. Just a few inches can make a big difference. Good luck to you. I keep forgetting to see if I can raise my bass just a smidge more. I just hate adjusting my strap.
     
  15. Doctor Intrepid

    Doctor Intrepid

    Dec 27, 2017
    Lowering? I'll probably give that a try. Cheers!
     
  16. franklindayala

    franklindayala

    Feb 8, 2015
    PERÚ
    Hope this helps.

     
  17. Doctor Intrepid

    Doctor Intrepid

    Dec 27, 2017
    Yeah, that's great. I've tried changing the placement of my plucking hand and angle of the bass as he suggests. The soft hand technique also sounds great. I'm going to try that for sure.
     
  18. fearceol

    fearceol

    Nov 14, 2006
    Ireland
    @Doctor Intrepid : I would advise pursuing remedial solutions... only after seeking and receiving medical advice. You may be told to rest up for a while and any use of the hand/wrist could make things worse.
     
  19. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Apr 23, 2021

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