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elbow feelin' funky..

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by robotriot, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    hey guys , so last week I got a new bass and I was playing it like crazy, and then one day I started to feel tingling in my pinky and ring finger in my fretting hand... now my elbow sorta aches and it just feels a bit off.. i havent gone to a doc yet because I just moved to nyc and I dont know where to go for this..i've stopped practicing and its been about a week and its not better( not worse either). i can move my fingers and stuff and feel in them, but idk if it's a pinched nerve or what..

    should i just go to a GP? anybody know?

  2. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Can be a common site for a touch of nerve impingement or neuropathy.

    The elbow is a joint, so as such nerves and blood vessels have to navigate the moving joint a bit closer to the surface of the skin (or risk getting trapped or damaged in the joint movement.

    The nerve that gives you the symptoms you have is the Ulnar nerve and yes it run close at the elbow. It can give the little and ring finger sensations similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but it is now because CTS is relates to a different nerve path.

    If it is to be relates to anything then Tennis elbow may cover it, or Cubital Tunnel Syndrome if it is a bit more serious.

    So ice the elbow regular, take some Iboprofen ( or similar anti-inflamatories) and just watch where you put you elbows.
    If you lean on them regularly you will in-flame and induce such symptoms.

    Do you rest your elbow on the car door when driving.
    Believe it or not, the hard metal of the door conducts the cars vibrations to point of contact....your elbow. That will stimulate the nerve to in-flame and cause your symptoms.
    Reason I mention this is you say you moved to NYC, so you drive on the left, so if your right handed then you if you were to lean on the door it would be your left elbow....so your fretting hand.

    To check for tennis elbow, put a strap and tighten it up, around the top of your forearm about an inch to two inches under the elbow.
    If the pain subsistes with in 30 seconds then it is tennis elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis to give it its medical name ).

    Rest it up, treat as suggested and watch where you put your elbows.
    See a doctor if it does not clear or improve in days, if after a week you still display the symptoms get it checked out regardless whether they have gotten better or are improving. If it clears within a week, and by that I mean no pain or tenderness, then it is just been aggravated, if it is still presenting the symptoms then it needs to be looked at.

  3. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    is it a waste of time to see a GP? My insurance isn't accepted around here, so I might have to make a trip home (to see someone more expensive)... but is going to a GP first the right idea? my friend seems to think that it's a waste of time and I should go straight to an ortho..

    any thoughts?
  4. jdfarrell81

    jdfarrell81 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2009
    Baltimore, MD
    Sounds like Cubital Tunnel Syndrome to me. The ulnar nerve is likely getting compressed. I've been working through it for the past year.

    Sleeping with your elbow flexed (i.e. - arm bent instead of straight) can be a big contributing factor. I went to see a hand and arm specialist, and he gave me a brace to wear at night that keeps my arm straight. It's not comfortable at first, but it's helped quite a bit.

    If you go see someone, I'd definitely recommend someone who specializes in sports medicine or orthopedics. A GP will probably just recommend ice and an NSAID. If you live anywhere near Maryland, I can recommend a great hand and arm specialist.
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Seeing a ortho is a good move, more experience than a GP in such matters really. So go for it, so long as the person you see has the relevant qualifications to diagnose and treat you. A GP is a sort of jack of all trades that see a patient, if they cannot help then their medical experience and knowledge of the patient and the patients history will help them decide on the nature of the referral best. needed.

    In the UK. Medical treatment is controlled by your GP. They have your records and all the problems and treatments you have had should be on there, so they are the first point of call in the UK, they will make appointments to others more qualified to deal with your injuries or symptoms. One thing players should be aware of is that insurance companies use medical records, by applying to you for permission to do so. If you have an illness, injury, or medical condition not on your records, you can find any insurance you thought you had invalidated because your medical records are false or not kept up-dated. The other situation could be you injure your elbow and are eligible for compensation or treatment, then find they argue the injury is not their liability because they have found a record of it somewhere else. Therefore a GP cannot state the two are not related, so it then become what the insurance company can prove (or dis-prove in a court of law)....again this is UK related because of the way Health Care is funded. The NHS has no interest in the 'liability' issues, they just deal with the injury or illness...they do not look for blame.

    Should you or should you not see someone?
    I always say look for professional medical help, as you and you alone live with the consequences of your decisions.:)
  6. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    should I try sleeping with a towel wrapped around my arm and see if that helps at all? my insurance situation is making me uneasy about going anywhere.. :( . I cancelled my GP appointment because I can't really afford to waste that extra dough.. trying to figure out what ortho to go and see. thanks for all the info guys!
  7. jdfarrell81

    jdfarrell81 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2009
    Baltimore, MD
    Anything to keep your arm straight at night can help. A towel secured with an Ace bandage or something like that would be a decent option. Like one of the other posters mentioned, it's important to be aware of how and where you rest you elbows. I work at a computer all day, so I have an elbow pad to keep my elbow off the desk.

    With Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, little things add up and cause the problem. Luckily, changing those little things can really help.

    Keep an eye on it though. If it doesn't improve, it's not something you want to let go for too long. It can lead to a permanent loss of strength on that side of the hand.
  8. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    right on man, I'm going to go back to my hometown.. i called a bunch of places and nowhere around here accepts my podunk town insurance.. so I gotta go home. Until then, i'm going to try that funky towel splint, I hope it improves.. going to see an ortho on sat and hopefully by then i'll be fine and it'll just be a "oh you are better now, just make sure you do these things etc and here's a real splint".. but idk how realistic that is.. haha
  9. Some ortho's are hacks who are only looking for an excuse to cut you open or give you cortisone, a subscription for nsaids and a "next"! I got better advice from my GP whom I was seeing for another issue and mentioned the tendonosis in passing. He even pointed me towards a good herbal supplement for joint support and recommended I leave off the Naproxen (Alleve). My best results have come from hard-core sports massage at a place that is filled with massage therapists that are all serious athletes themselves.

    It's nice to pay for insurance for years and then not be able to get anything for it isn't it? I've been out of pocket for every step of my therapies even though we have a family plan. I had almost used up my absurdly high deductible and then we went around the new year and it re-set back to zero.

    To the OP, don't take this lightly. Don't play until it stops hurting/tingling, come back slowly and stop the INSTANT you feel anything again. Examine you playing ergonomics. You might need to wear your bass differently. Every time you re-injure it, the damage goes deeper and it takes longer to recover creating a vicious cycle.
  10. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    A bass that made me reach too far to the nut lost me six weeks of playing time. PT helped, the towel splint at night kept me from sleeping on my side which was not easy but finally worked. Somehow sleep is easier to come by for the sleep deprived :)

    Loved the sound of that bass but not the cost to me physically.

    Hollow body Samick Royalle that I modded for a Dark Star. Damn thing sounded fantastic...
  11. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    yeah, i'm definitely going to take it slow once I can play again.. I have a shortscale (danoelectro longhorn) and it should be much easier on my hands to play (vs fretless stingray). i'll prob be playing that lil' guy until I can really build up my hand strength and technique.

    6 weeks? damn!! I hope it doesn't take me THAT long to get better :meh: . it's a struggle to NOT pick my bass after a crummy day at work, i just wanna play :crying:

    anyhow, i'll let you guys know what the doc says! thanks so much for the help!
  12. MostlyBass


    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Definitely see a specialist. I ended up having surgery for Lateral Epicondylitis which was a perfect success and could get back to playing almost immediately.
  13. jdfarrell81

    jdfarrell81 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2009
    Baltimore, MD
    This is something to be aware of, but I think it applies to all doctors, not just orthos. Some docs are a bit too quick to resort to surgery. Cortisone can work wonders for some injuries, but it's not used to treat Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.

    You can order a brace online without seeing a doctor. Just Google "Cubital Tunnel Splint." I think Amazon even has them. Though, if possible, a trip to the doc is well worth it.

    Very true. A big part of my recovery has revolved around changing the way I hold the bass and play. When sitting, I play like a classical guitarist plays. For me, that position keeps both elbows comfortably bent without bending them too far inward.
  14. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Coming back in on this one.
    Everyone will have a story, but remember this, its your body, if it does not work out, you carry the responsibility and the consequences with you.
    Some injuries end playing careers.
    The first step Is apply ice to reduce the swelling, ice is always going to relieve swelling.
    Take the anti-imflamatories, they also will reduce swelling.
    Like I said it should show improvement within days, if not within a week, you should go and see a doctor.

    I understand all the problems with health insurances, work etc, but if you broke your leg, or started having chest pains, you would justify the expense and treatments.

    All the other things mentioned are great, but only once you have a proper diagnosis or referral to a specialist that will give you one...you have to understand the condition (or as best you can) you suffer from and learn to minimise its impact on your life. Any of the things mentioned,such as a towel split, maybe un-necessary and just delaying you from getting treatment that will help.
    There are many reasons why you may be getting relief, getting relief is not the same as fixing the problem, getting relief just means dulling the pain, not addressing what is causing the pain.

    In the end it is your call how you proceed, because you, and only you, carry the consequences.:)
  15. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    totally. I'm feeling better, not perfect, but I'm going to see the ortho anyways.. I'm only 22 and I really want to keep playing bass for years to come!

    Thanks for the concern, it's just solidifying my choice to go to the doc! :hyper:
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    Primary TB Assistant

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