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Hand Troubles

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by dmq89, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. dmq89


    Feb 21, 2006
    Selkirk, MB, Canada
    Hey Guys -

    This is gonna be a looooong post... :) I've been searching here for months hoping someone has posted about the troubles I'm having, but nobody has, so I guess I'm the first!!! I'm pretty sure this is the right forum as this has apparently come from plaing bass for 16 years!

    My hands (both of 'em) feel stiff and slow ALL the time. My left is definitely worse than my right, but both seem to be affected. Also, my pinky on my left hand slows down and actually stops during a trill on the bass - and the side muscle in that hand (the "karate chop" muscle" gets ROCK HARD. PLUS :) every so often my pinky and ring fingers on the left hand will momentarily lock in the straight position (not closed like with trigger finger) while I'm playing.

    I've been told :

    1. It's not CTS (as it's mainly affecting the pinky and ring fingers); but, nobody has diagnosed it as cubital tunnel either. I did have the "shock" test done by a neurologist.

    2. That 16 years of just picking up the bass and shredding without warming up (for my left hand) and 7 years of bad ergonomic posture while using a mouse (for my right) has given me a WICKED case of tendonitis in both forearms.

    3. That the problem with my left hand is most likely in my left shoulder as I'm all knotted up in there.


    After all of my research on tendonitis (including Randy Kertz' book), I can't compare what I have to it - I have no pain. Just slow, tired, seizing up hands. It's getting harder to tie knots and pick coins up off of the table.

    I have received and done the following treatments in the last 8 months: :D

    Acupuncture, theraputic massage, physiotherapy, heating pad, ice packs, daily stretching of both the forearms and the lumbricale muscles of the fingers, new workstation and keyboard tray, lowered the height of my bass (so both wrists are straight), gotten wrist braces, gotten a Comfort Strapp...

    I always stretch before playing. And I CAN still play... It's just that I figure the Yngwie stuff is out for me now (not that I ever tried to do it before!) If I'm stretched and warmed up a bit (and concentrating on the music I'm playing), I usually don't think about it (until I get one of those lock-ups or try to do a trill). Weird, huh?

    SO - has anybody EVER experienced this? Can tendonitis NOT hurt but have effects like this? I'm not looking for a medical diagnosis (so nobody tell me I have anything serious as we haven't spoken and you'd just make me paranoid! :)) - I just want to see if this happens to any other bass players.

    Again, if you've made it this far, sorry for the long post. I'm just really frustrated!!! :help:

  2. Ouch!

    Well, my symptoms match some of yours, some do not. I had terrible pain with mine. At the time I was playing with three bands regularly, grading lots of papers and doing lots of paper work (I'm a school teacher in my regular everyday life) doing lots of renovations on my home, and doing lots of yard work.
    Finally, one Sunday morning before church, it hit.....my first and hopefully last athritic attack of that magnitude. My left arm froze up and I could not even pull my elbow out from my waist. the knuckles and joints of my pointer and middle fingers were also having sharp, knife-like pains shooting through them. My left rotator cup and shoulder throbbed. I had similar pains in the inside of my elbow and had tennis elbow on my right arm.

    Needless to say, changes had to be made.
    Did I mention I had a back that gives me trouble? :crying:

    1. I took a three month sabbattical. I did not touch a bass, guitar, mandolin, or anything else for that time.
    2. Learned stretching exercises and did lots of arm rotations forwards and backwards.
    3. Got on an anti-arthritis med for that period of time.
    4. Got rid of my Peavy stack and head. I now have a Nemisis with two 10s. It only weighs 52 pounds. If I need more power, I run it into the house and use the amp as a monitor.
    5. Reset the action on all my basses to get them as low as I could without buzzing.
    6. Went to light gauges opn all my strings (.40-.100). A .115 B on my fives. All heavy Fender flat wounds on those basses were changed out to TIs and GHS Precision Flats in light gauge.
    7. Moved my left elbow out instead of playing with it into my left side.
    8. Hired someone to take care of my yard for that period of time. Let my brother and folks from church finish my doors.:smug:
    9. When I did start playing again, I took it easy and warmed up before playing. Also, I sit now instead of stand. This allows me to keep my wrists in natural positions. My elbow has quit having tendonitis since my playing hand sits right above the lower neck instead of back at the pups. I play fretteds right off of the fretboard.
    10. I take short breaks instead of playing continuously for hours. If I start to hurt or even feel stiff, I stop for a while or even callit a day. The bottom of my hands used to do the same as yours and get hard. Time for a break.
    Some of these may sound extreme to you, but after being told "Your playing days will be over if you don't do something" it got my attention.:eek:

    I wish you well. Go see a physical therapist if it persists.


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