Carpal tunnel success story

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Asher S, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    Many people first go to Google for the purpose of self-diagnosis and treatment, and usually get freaked out and/or misleading information.

    The reason for this is that the vast majority of people with mild, self-limiting problems don't bother to post their experiences online because they no longer need help. There's a similar phenomenon in the medical literature, in which scientists are reluctant to publish "negative" results that show no effect of a given experimental observation.

    Therefore I am posting my recent experience with carpal tunnel syndrome, that resolved with conservative management (no injections, no surgery, nothing "drastic"). Most of what I did was common sense, and some was great advice from my 2 very experienced and successful teachers.

    My symptoms were quite classic: pain and tingling in the thumb, index, and middle fingers of my fretting hand. One of the tests for CTS involving tapping on the forearm (quite forcefully), elicited the symptoms.

    Here's what I did to get rid of CTS. Note that this is in no way a "prescription" for anyone, it's just what I did. Please do not take this as evidence-based medicine. Please consult your physician before doing any of this.
    • I stopped playing for 2-3 days. Really resist the urge to "see" if your symptoms have resolved. Just give it a rest
    • I wore a wrist brace to bed. I got one from my local pharmacy for about $20. Worth every penny. This prevents you from inadvertently aggravating the CTS while you're asleep.
    • I took ibuprofen max dose for several days. PLEASE consult your physician before doing this. I'm an MD so I felt comfortable knowing my limits, but I am in no way advocating this as a general rule. Please do not do this unless your physician gives you the OK.
    • Wrist exercises: I started with 5 lb, then used a small 8 lb weight and did wrist flexion/extension reps in both hands (for balance). VERY helpful.
    • Stretches: I did these - . VERY helpful.
    • Playing with a lighter touch: this is actually one of the benefits I've gleaned from this CTS experience. I'm now actually playing with more agility, speed, and rhythmic accuracy.
    • Positioning: I'm wearing my bass a bit higher and positioned more to my right, so that my left (fretting) hand has less of a reach to the lower register, and my left wrist is straighter.
    • Fingering: I adapted what I learned from playing upright bass, i.e. using 1-2-4 fingering in the lower register, and one finger per fret in the upper register.
    • COMPUTER... this is a bad offender. My work involves much time at the computer, and I was resting both of my forearms on the edge of my desk. I am now careful to reduce/eliminate pressure on my forearms and to maintain as little bend in my wrists as possible.
    • I purchased Randall Kertz's book, but my symptoms were almost completely resolved when it arrived. However I'm just starting to read it to learn how to prevent this from happening again.

    I was quite depressed when the CTS first came on. However, I want this post to be an encouragement specifically to all you other middle-aged++ players who experience CTS. It doesn't need to be the death of your playing.
  2. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Congratulations on your speedy recovery and excellent post as well. This should be required reading for all bassists suffering from overuse injuries. Sounds like you addressed it in the early stages which is important for quick resolution.
  3. Mr. Mig

    Mr. Mig

    Sep 7, 2008
    Way to go on your recovery. Congrads!!!!!!
  4. I just tried the stretches and I could feel a big difference already.
  5. Should also mention to get on it as soon as symptoms appear, the longer you wait, the harder it is to get under control.

  6. dtripoli


    Aug 15, 2010
    Thanks for the link to the wrist stretches. Very simple but extremely effective. Prior to this I would just wiggle my fingers and rotate my wrists. It helped but these are even better
  7. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    Wow- I posted this 2.5 years ago. I'm glad it seems to have helped others.

    Still pain free and playing more and more...

    Another thing I've found very helpful is re-training myself to keep my wrists straight as much as possible.

    Bent wrists probably do more harm than any other factor listed in the original post. Here are 2 photos from the same gig: 1 with good wrist position, the other not so good (sometimes I revert to bad habits).

    Bass up higher, over right hip, wrists straight:

    Left wrist bent- OUCH!

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