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Carpal tunnel syndrome

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by dejavoodoo, Oct 30, 2005.

  1. dejavoodoo


    Mar 29, 2005
    New Mexico
    I just got tested and found that I have carpal tunnel problems, both hands, worse in the left. I've been playing pretty much non-stop for over 35 years and I have no intention of stopping now, long as I can that is. I guess that and all the other things I've done my whole life-machinist work,dirt bikes, all kinds of stuff-have begun to add up so to speak.
    Anyone here dealt with this problem? What did you do? I was wondering if anyone has had the surgery and how it worked for you as well.
    Thanks!! Alan P
  2. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor

    Mar 6, 2005
    Both my ex and I had this problem several times starting back in the 80's when we were playing 6-8 hour gigs on a regular basis.

    I've been able to avoid any kind of surgery, but each time I've had the problems crop up I've had to put a lot of effort into treating my wrist and tendons as if they were injured, and not doing what I've seen so many of my friends do, rubbing them and aggravating the already afflicted area.
    The first few times my ex had the problem we were able to work through it together, but we split several years ago and her attempt to solve it once and for all led to surgery a couple years ago, which as far as I'm aware brought mixed results.

    I'll be really interested in hearing any good advice on preventing it from coming up again, but mainly I think it's important to refrain from using to much constant tension on the fingerboard, allowing your tendons to relax whenever it's not necessary to be applying pressure.
    And finally, gentle warm up and cool down are very, very helpful.
  3. Inflamed ligaments swell, and rub on the sides of the carpal tunnel that they go through. Rubbing inflames them more. causing more swelling, more irritation, and more rubbing.

    You need to break the cycle. Some time off maybe needed to heal. Changing positions on the bass might help, avoiding extreme bends on the left hand if possible. I had trouble starting, playing the bass high up like a jazz guy instead of low like a rock guy helped. Get the bass setup if the strings are too high, it shouldn't require a deathgrip on the neck, concentrate on using a light touch until its a habit.

    Warm up gently, maybe some scales or something. Don't go right out wailing on fast stuff, with a deathgrip on the neck. Proper warmup, light touch can make a huge difference.

    Anti-inflammatories can help control the swelling (asprin, motrin, not tylenol). Ice and elevate the wrist after playing also will help minimize the swelling and irritation.

    Talk to a doc or physical therapist to get tips like this to avoid the surgery, and discomfort.

  4. buzzbass

    buzzbass Shoo Shoo Retarded Flu !

    Apr 23, 2003
    warm-up(major +), stretching once warm, on days when you're sore ice the area, and finally mild ibuprofen use should fix you right up. whatever you do, no surgery ! also, mild weight training with forearm exercise will help.
  5. Wildcat


    Apr 14, 2003
    I had surgery on both hands earlier this year...One hand at a time.. My right was worse than the left,,,, took a few weeks before I could do most normal stuff. But my writers cramp is now gone. My left hand healed alot quicker but it took me several months before I was able to push my self off the floor with my hands without pain. (when I was on the floor playing with my kid and such) If they can do the surgery arthoscopically (hope I spelled that right) you only have one big stitch on each wrist.

    The wrist braces you can buy at Target and pharmacies helped especially if you wear them when your sleeping. When they did my left hand I was able to plunk out some tunes after a couple of weeks but there will definitely be no playing the first week or so while the bandages are on. I have heard of people having both done at teh same time... all I can say is I hope they had a really good friend to help them those first couple of weeks do all the stuff one normally would handle themselves....

    Good Luck....
  6. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    I had severe CT in both hands and had surgery on both back in the mid-nineties. They actually replaced the tunnels with a prosthetic device. I had to have it. Twenty years of bass playing compounded by all the typing I had to do in graduate school. For me, the surgery was the only option. It took a good five years before I got back to the point where I could play for any extended period of time.
  7. Bassosaurus


    Aug 27, 2005

    This is all good advice. Do not have surgery! If you don't fix what's causing the problem, it will happen again. Take some time off and work w/ someone traineed in accupressure - this worked for me. The accupressure supposedly helped work the damaged area but, more importantly, the guy showed me some stretches. I did these a few times a day for a while - if I do them before and after playing (and some in between, if it's a long session) I have no problems. I swear by it and have shown it to others w/ success. The downside is, there's no way I can really explain it properly here.

    The man I worked w/ was trained in accupressure and accupunture. If you find someone good, I'd think the strech would be fairly universal. Sort of like an archers pose to the right and then to the left.

    When you get ready to get back to playing, I'd recommend some work w/ someone trainned in Alexander Technique. Even reading the book will help. It's about body mechanics - a full body approach, also used in the studies of dance and theater.
  8. LarryO


    Apr 4, 2004
    there are a lot of different treatment methods. Obviously you should try thr least invasive first. Resting and wearing wrist splints (especially at night) can be a huge help. A steroid injection ito the Capal Tunnel can calm things down and then the surgery is actually the release of the transverse carpal ligament. it's a minor surgical procedure often done under local anesthetic but the course of healng can be rigorous. After the surgery you have , basically, a badly sprained wrist and it will take months to get your strength back. Most Orthopaedic surgeons won't do the release unless your nerve conduction study results fall within certain parameters. I'd set up an appointment with an Orthopaedic surgeon and do some research on the internet.
  9. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I'm 18 and have suffered with CTS in both wrists for two years. Slightly worse in my right, and what it basically comes down to is resting when you feel pain, not pushing yourself too hard and knowing when to back off. Between that, warming up and cooling down with proper stretching, you'll be fine.

    Also, there's the RICE method.


    Know when to rest, ice when swelling gets bad, and use compression. I don't find elevation to be a big deal, but when I feel pain, first thing I do is relax and splint it.

    I recommend picking up the book by Dr. Randall Kertz, an acupuncturist, chiropractic physician and bassist. Has helped me redo my playing style to provide less stress. The book is called "The Bassist's Guide to Injury Management, Prevention and Better Health" and can be purchased from www.drkertz.com
  10. FunkyLemz

    FunkyLemz Supporting Member

    Oct 17, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Good advice. I also suffer from carpel tunnel and am fortunate enough to have NCAA athletic trainers treat me. They make me workout (warm-up) my wrists, then I use a parafem (not sure how to spell it) wax bath - on my wrist, then an ultra sound with anti-inflammatory gel, lots of stretching, and finally ice, ice, and more ice. Im shocked to see that an 18 yr old had it (I thought I was young - at age 21). Well, cts sucks and it takes time to heal - It took me only 1 month and I still feel it a little bit (probably an acute form of tendonitis). One last tip do not play fast without warming up - slow chromatic scales do the trick. After the scales stretch - by placing you palms flat on a wall or table. Do this for awhile (2-5 minutes) then you shuold be good to go.
    Be safe, Mike
  11. dejavoodoo


    Mar 29, 2005
    New Mexico
    Hey guys....
    Thanks for all the advice...exactly what I was looking for. I've worked with several people who had CTS and related issues and it seems to me that the surgery option produces mixed results at best. So far I'm not convinced that it's an option for me, at least not yet. At this point, I don't have a lot of pain, mostly numbness and some aching that I couldn't explain. Actually, I can't tell that playing makes the problem worse, I think its always there to some degree.
    Anyway, thanks again, you guys are the best....
    Alan P
  12. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    My wife had both hands done last year about six weeks apart. Her doc performed a minimally invasive procedure (not microsurgery, but close) that simply snipped the offending ligament. Her recovery was short and trouble free.

    Prior to the surgery, she had severe wrist pain and almost no hand strength. Afterwards, she has no pain and normal function.

    She said she'd do it again in a heartbeat.