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Carpel Tunnel

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Mike, Feb 9, 2003.


  1. Mike

    Mike

    Sep 7, 2000
    Cali
    Hi Steve/Mike,

    I think I may be stricken with the much dreaded Carpel Tunnel. I first noticed it about three weeks ago in the middle of a set. Suddenly, I felt a dull pain in numbness in the fleshy, muscular part of the thumb that makes up about 1/3 of the palm of my fretting hand. It was accompanied by a numbness and sharp pain tht began about halway between the elbow and shot up to my wrist on the underside of my forearm. I switched to 5's about 3 yrs ago and really don't wanna go back to 4's (no offense Mike :) but if it means playing and never playing again I won't hesitate. Have either of you ever experienced this or known anyone int he pro circuit or whatever who has. How have you/they treated it? And do you have any other thoughts? (I'm also posting this on Mike Dimin's forum?)

    Anybody else with experience is welcome to comment as well.

    Thank you,

    Mike
     
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Mike,

    I'm loath to dispense too much advice here, as RSI can be such a serious thing that your first port of call has to be a medical professional.

    There is a very good feature on the whole subject in one of the last two issues of Bass Player (I think the one with the guy from Mudvayne on the cover), by Ed Friedland, that contains some really good information.

    It's also worth checking out Carol Kaye's site for more info - she's dealt with a lot of wrist and hand problems, and has a lot of great info about dietary stuff and beneficial herbal suppliments...

    good luck finding the source of your problem...

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  3. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Hi Mike,

    I agree with Steve -- your best bet is to consult a pro, preferably one who specializes in musicians' injuries if you can find one. Repetitive motion injuries are rampant among bassists and the causes can often be difficult to determine. Do take it seriously, but there's no reason to assume the 5-string is the culprit until you get further information.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Mike

    Mike

    Sep 7, 2000
    Cali
    Thanks, gentlemen. I should clarify something, however. I wasn't asking so much for treatment advice (I should have phrased it differently) but was more interested in any inpit on maybe bass setup, sring gauges, etc. I thought you would be more likely to meet someone with CT and perhaps had noticed any adjustments he had made in his set up, string gauges, etc..


    Thx,

    Mike
     
  5. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    ah, right - I guess lightening the strings, dropping the action and playing lighter are bound to aleveate any problems you may be having with just pressing the strings down. But the number of players who cope with long hours on basses with heavy strings and high action without any pain suggests that the real solution lies elsewhere...

    the issues are more likely to do with your playing position, hand position, any tension in your body, other activities like typing or some kind of manual labour, but it's best to eliminate all of them - find a good bass teacher to look at the playing related stuff...

    good luck!

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Obviously, Steve & Michael are correct you should definitley see a professional of some sort... and for the short term I'd say give playing a rest if it causes pain.

    Speaking from experience, I've suffered from pain in my lower arm, wrist and hand in the past purely because I was wearing my bass too low and stretching my wrist to reach the low notes.

    The best bit if advice I have (that I read somewhere or was told by someone or both? - cant remember now) is to ALWAYS keep the wrist on your fretting hand straight and NEVER grip the neck tightly, just relax.

    Imagine string stretched over the corner of a brick, rubbing backwards and forwards - that's effectivley what happens to you tendons when you play with you fretting wrist bent at 90 degrees. :eek:

    It's like anything really, if you relax you're much less likely to cause any damage to yourself.. like when drunk people fall over :D
     
  7. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Mike,

    Sorry we can't be more specific, but repetitive motion injuries are notoriously tricky to diagnose. The pain you're experiencing could be caused by the way you play or the way your instrument is set up, but it may not even come from playing bass. Sometimes a problem in the hand can originate from some other activity, from a general posture problem, an injury in the spine or even a psychological issue. You'll need to be patient and talk to a number of health care pros – consider physical therapy, occupational therapy, neurology and/or acupuncture. You'll probably need to go to several different doctors to find one that you can work with. I'm so sorry that you have to go through this. If there is any silver lining, it may be encouraging to know that many people who have had these kinds of problems end up feeling in the long run that it was a powerful and valuable experience in learning greater self-awareness.
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    As Michael says - this is rampant amongst bass players.

    I had back problems a few years agio which were effectively "cured" by a great physiotheraipst, who had his own practice mainly based on dealing with sports injuries in the London area.

    But we would chat while he was working on my back and so eventually I told him I was a bass player and he mentioned how he had seen many London-based pro bass players for this sort of thing.

    He mentioned how some had got so bad they hadn't been able to play for several months.

    I think a good, qualified, physiotherapist would be the person who knows most about this type of thing and about the way the body works. I found doctors knew very little and as "generalists", simply never had the time or gained the experience necessary - but physiotherapists see vast numbers of sports-related injuries, which are very similar and can use this experience to work with you to get the problem dealt with and to develop a way of playing that doesn't caue it to happen again.
     
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    As usual, excellent advice from Steve. A good teacher should be able to spot danger signs in your R.H. technique, or at least suggest another way to approach holding the angle of your hand to correct this problem. Good luck.
     
  10. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Bloody hell! :eek:
     
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Bloody Hell is about right!

    The following question of course is WHY?!!
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Maybe I'm trying to overcompensate for the size of my bow? ;)


    Actually, the reason is because these strings sound ****ing HUGE. Over the past few months, I've really been coming to the realization that a large part of acoustic sound on DB is determined by the type of strings used and the string height of same. Each bass has a "sweet spot" for sound vs. playability, and for the (pizz) sound I'm hearing, the above figures represent the sweet spot for my bass. Of course, if I could afford a $50,000 bass, I could probably also afford to lower the action a bit and get the same or better sound. But until then, I'll go with what I have and adjust my technique accordingly...which means making damn sure I'm using the LARGE muscle groups to support the fingers of each hand while playing. So far, so good, but time will tell.

    You'll probably see me upstairs in the BG forums before too long asking a bunch of questions to the resident pros about how to get my Smith 6 set up in as similar a fashion to my DB as possible without hurting either the bass or the sound. It may not work, but I've got to at least try.

    (End second highjacking of the day :) )
     
  13. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    I'm confused... I thought you meant you'd put the largest DB strings on your BG?!
     
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    My fault, I was unclear in my statement - the setup I mentioned was my DB setup. I only mentioned it to make a point about CTS and technique....if DB players can discover techniques to deal with the monstrous string tensions and heights required of that instrument, then surely BG players can do the same. As someone who teaches both instruments, I can honestly say that in my experience, all of the hand/arm related injuries I have seen have been due do some technical flaw on the part of the player in question (and several times in the past, that player has been myself). I only meant to suggest that a good teacher should be able to help most students troubleshoot their technique to find the area that is causing the pain.

    And now I'll shut up, since it was only yesterday that I was ragging moley for highjacking threads in "ask the pro" forums. :rolleyes: :D
     
  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    moleys terrible for that, tss, LYNCH HIM!!!! :D
     
  16. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Haha! Me, hijack threads?

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    not only that but he's a web space user too.. BURN HIM, BURN HIM ALIVE!!!!
     
  18. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I just linked to it, I didn't upload it :)

    Besides, if you burn me, you won't get no stinkin' transcriptions :D
     
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think this is the best advice for the original poster - the post in another thread about looking in the mirror and matching yourself to videos sounds very dangerous, in my opinion - it might have worked for that individual, but I think it is much easier for a teacher to see what you may or may not be doing wrong, than to find this out yourself.
     
  20. RedGrange

    RedGrange

    Jun 11, 2000
    Springfield, IL
    I have CTS in both hands about 2 years ago... It was due to me having 2 of the worst hobbies for it (bass and lifting) and typing a lot.

    I have surgery to release it (pretty much the only way you can get rid of it) and I haven't had any problems since.

    Make sure you go to a good hand surgeon, ask him how big of a cut he uses... if it's more than 1.5" ... leave