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Health Related Issues To Playing

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Fergie Fulton, Oct 25, 2009.

  1. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    TENS machine treatment.
    I have tried it, it's simple & helps. Some insurance companies cover the cost a bit.
    Give it a try.
  2. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Related to MrLenny's post, above:

    I bought a home ultrasound unit, when I was having pain in the basal joint of both thumbs. Did seem to give some relief.
    matthewbrown likes this.
  3. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    It certainly does suck losing our fitness as we get older, when we are young we shake off many injuries as or body heals so fast, but with age come the body slowing down and that means it repairs less and slower.
    So that knee injury that it "touches up" everyday to keep it healthy slows down as well and we start to feel it..until the body can no longer keep touching up the repair and it fails us.

    On pain, i attended a Pain Clinic three years after my accident as i was still in constant pain when doing certain activities. To cut a long story short, there was no physical reason for my pain, my pain had moved its centre to become an emotion associated with the actions i was doing..the pain was real enough, but there should be no reason for it.

    So what is it when pain moves centre?
    In the film "There's something about Mary" when Ben Stiller is trapped in the bathroom and he is.....well caught up on his flies, many men will flinch at that...they will rub or hold there own groin as if the pain is there's....even though no physical contact is made so no reason for our reactions.

    This is because we, as men, know the pain involved, our emotions get involved and heighten the intensity of situation to the effect that we "feel his pain" because we know what pain is involved in his predicament.

    Our brain can use emotions to heighten or project pain in other situations, pain that we should not feel and a pain clinic specialist can help us understand our own centres of pain...to help reduce if not remove our pain completely.
    In one of my situations i had pain when i played, so i changed my bass for a lighter short scale one, which i could play relatively pain free.
    But i have since come to realise that changing the bass never made the difference, it was my attitude that made the difference, i reasoned that a lighter short scale bass would not give me problems so it did not because i never played one, or attempted to play one when i was in pain from my injures.
    My injuries healed, but i held on to the idea that i would have pain when i played my bass....So my brain accommodated me and gave me pain to accompany my playing.....as that is what i was expecting. The brain just accommodated what it thought i wanted.

    In the end i learned, with the help of the clinic, that i had no reason to expect pain so it lessened and lessened until it was gone. i learned to associate fun with playing and look forward to playing, not pain and the dread of playing.

    The reason i am relating this story is mine was a nerve problem (and still is) i have the physical restriction, but not pain, maybe something like this could help you. Yes you have the physical limitations of the injury, but not the associated pain of it. the more you play in pain the more you reinforce it, the more you expect it. so the easier it is for your brain to accommodate you with pain.

    I went to the pain clinic thinking "hippy new age BS" but i have to admit it worked for me, and i believe it works for many of the patients they see. In the UK it was an NHS service, so was free. I just had to wait for a place after i was referred by my own GP on the recommendation of a clinical psychologist. It worked great for me so maybe there is something in such a treatment for you. :)


  4. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    I'm dealing with De Quervain's in my left (fretting) thumb. After a month of steadily increasing pain whenever I played on the BG (but not the DB), I went and saw the Dr. After xrays, MRI and an exam, I was referred to a hand specialist. After the Finkelstein test, I was given a steroid shot and wrist/thumb splint. I was told to wear it full time, and avoid playing whenever possible. Unfortunately, I'm in 2 bands that are pretty busy right now, so I have an enormous amount of anxiety that I'm dealing with with not being able to rehearse, yet planning on playing the shows. One of those shows is a big deal, opening for a national act in Hollywood for pay.

    It's nice that there's this thread, as I assume y'all can identify with that anxiety.
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    I hear you with the anxiety and maybe over thinking things that may happen then believing only the worst can happen.

    Fact is any player with experience does not need to practice, just reference what they need to learn.
    Physical practice is not always needed, but learning what to play is.
    I learn just about all my work these days with minimal physical practice.
    I call it my 'light bulb scenario', because as a light bulb only has so many hours of light in it before it burns out.....then so does my neck, shoulder, arms and hands only have so many hours of use before I burn out.
    So I use my time with care, and as such, choose when I want to 'light up my practise' with a physical use rather than just a mental one.

    I find writing out parts, either transcription, or chord sheets, is my practice...after a career of over forty five years I know how to play, I know how to practise, that part never really changes, but what I have to practice does.

    So I read songs over and listen and in doing so I learn my material, rest my hands, and have confidence in what I have to play.
    I still do warm ups and stretches everyday to manage my injuries, but I try not to be a 'victim' in all this, rather see it as just another challenge in life. :)
  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    2014 Up-date.
    This is a thread about health aspects that could arise out of playing bass.
    Because of the complex nature of such a thread it has be categorised in to main groups.
    Under each heading you will find relevant information. Under some there are multiple links to provide a balanced view point of information.

    If you are suffering any kind of health problems only a qualified medical professional after a face to face consultation and examination can give you a correct and beneficial diagnosis. This is merely a guide to those looking for information, its use and interpretation is the responsibility of the person using it.

    It is presented in sections dealing with areas of the body and/related problems for ease of use.
    The links, and the terminologies used, can be be used to help do a wider search on the web for other searching for more specific information.

    This post is just a guide to information in the form of links.
    These links may have links to other material, so please feel free to use them, but they are not endorsed, or reflect the views of myself or Talkbass.

    If you want to discuss certain points that may be raised please start a new thread for more information.
    If you need help to find a link or information please start a thread and an answer will be provided if available.

    These links will be updated as more information becomes available as they are ever developing subjects.
    If any links fail, or the information is not relevent anymore, please inform, so it can be modified or removed.

    Some facts about hands, a quick introduction

    Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ( CTS )
    And in case you missed it the TB thread of Carpal Tunnel

    Pinched nerve symptoms

    The radial nerve explained

    The ulnar nerve explained

    Sciatic Pain

    Nerve Flossing

    Cubital Tunnel syndrome, sometimes mistaken for CTS as symptoms appear to be similar

    Tendonitis complaints

    Trigger finger

    Dupuytrens Contracture

    Swollen hands

    Cold Hands/Poor Circulation

    Rheumatism & Arthritis

    Bony lumps on the fingers (nodes)

    Neck pain
    Neck Stretches.

    Shoulder area

    Back pain
    Back Stretches

    Varicose veins

    Hearing conditions.

    Problems with the eyes

    In this section below some basic anatomical information needed to understand and make decisions about your health.




    Basic motor skills examination as a reference to what should happen in one.

    Bones of the hand

    Muscle groups of the hand and arm

    In this link you will find details of many Specialist Companies and Medical Facilities, please feel free to browse. None of these services are endorsed by TB or myself.
  7. cprtraining


    Feb 20, 2014
  8. vince a

    vince a

    Jun 13, 2006
    Modesto, CA
    I see that other older guys have chimed in . . . so, lead guitar player for 40 plus years, turned bassist at age 60. Those damn skinny guitar strings hurt my fingers. Now, age at 67, I have Parkinson's Disease, yet am playing in three bands . . . shaky, but not dead!
    zetzbass and HosMan like this.
  9. Health related issues due to playing may include euphoria and happiness
  10. Apolicious


    Jan 16, 2014
    Livingston, MT
    I'm not sure how helpful this is from a diagnostic standpoint, but I hope it encourages people to go see a medical professional as soon as they suspect something is wrong. You never know what the answer may be.


    For years I was convinced I had Dupuytren's Contracture. All the symptoms seemed to match up. I was genetically predisposed. I have trigger finger (but only if I intentionally flex specific muscles. It never manifests on its own.) But the main symptom is illustrated above.

    I first noticed it as a teenager when I got into heavy metal. When I'd try to throw horns my right hand (webcam pic - mirrored image) I could go full Dio. But my left pinky could only rise 90 degrees (assuming full extension is 180 degrees.) I can manually lift it to full extension with a slight degree of discomfort, but as soon as I let go it snaps back down to its perpendicular position. However, when playing bass, my pinky is one of my strongest fingers, second only to my first. My third finger is all but useless. Like, Django useless. With effort I can fret with it, but it's virtually impossible to move to another finger while keeping proper time.

    (As an aside, this lead to a great in-joke among my friends. When a band was only kinda-rocking, they'd imitate my hand and throw "bunny horns.")

    The thing is, empirically, I shouldn't have Dupuytrens at this point in my life. I'm too young. What's more, the symptoms seemed to be static, and I had none of the tell-tale "bumps." By pure happenstance I found out that I live within 100 miles of one of the country's premier hand specialists (sorry, his name escapes me at the moment, but I'll make some calls if anyone's interested) who just so happened to successfully treat my mom for her wrist strain.

    I was able to see him relatively quickly. He had me flex my hands in various positions and do all kinds of exercises I didn't understand. It almost felt like a sobriety test. Holding my hand as I flexed my fingers he dryly explained and pointed to the various muscles in the hand, and how they impact articulation. Then he sat back and explained that I was missing a small muscle that runs horizontally across the hand, which explained why I couldn't extend my pinky.

    "Wait, seriously? It's just... not there?"
    "Yep. Never seen it before in my life."
    "Is there anything I can do about it?"

    And that was that. In my mind I was screaming BE MORE EXCITED! I AM A UNIQUE MEDICAL SPECIMEN! But I suppose it's a testament to his professionalism that he didn't make a big deal out of it.

    So, I asked him about the "truth" about cracking your knuckles, complimented his bold choice to wear tie-dye socks and birckenstocks, and was on my way.

    Before that visit I'd all but resigned myself to my fate of having at least one claw hand. It made me want to quit playing altogether. I'm not Django. I don't have that kind of dedication. But knowing what was wrong, and that it wasn't degenerative, I dedicated myself to strength exercises. I started running through scales and modes, over and over again. I've done that stupid chromatic spider crawl more times than I can count. And I'm getting better.

    I still can't play guitar in standard tuning, but I've found some very accommodating open tunings. I got a six-string bass, so I can easily jump around without excess horizontal reach.

    I'm seriously playing again. All it took was an explanation.

    Now for that pesky "talent" part...
  11. ichbin


    Sep 30, 2012
    London, UK
    This is all really useful stuff. I'm suffering with an as yet undiagnosed problem in both my hands. I keep being told RSI and there's nothing to be done but I aint buying it. The pain is mainly in the balls of my thumbs and, if I am doing the same task with both hands like holding a heavy book, the pain is identical in both sides. I'm starting to thin kit might be something to do with my neck/back. I've had ultrasounds, x-rays, physio, etc and everything appears to be working normally. Could even be neurological I guess!
  12. Nykki Madd

    Nykki Madd

    Jul 5, 2014
    I also have carpal tunnel for about almost 2 years now.I'm waiting for my insurance to kick in so I can get the surgery done.after 10 years of landscaping my
  13. Icculus

    Icculus Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2010
    Brotherly Love
    I've been playing a lot more recently and am starting to get burning pain on the thumb side of my left wrist. It extends down the forearm a bit and I can also feel it in the back of my elbow around the condyles. I sometimes get some down the center of the wrist, starting where it hinges (maybe CTS, from what I've read). Technique-wise, I've always kept my thumb pointing towards the headstock, more so than behind the neck around my middle finger. Though I've been told it's incorrect, it's never affected me in a bad way and I don't apply much pressure with my thumb so I don't see why it would be straining things and causing issues.

    The other side of the issue is that I have joint/tendon problems all over my body that tend to come and go with use/overuse (and I'm only 28... woof). Needless to say, this blows and I'll be hoping to report back later with info and a success story for anyone who has similar issues.
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  14. Gjbl


    Nov 24, 2013
    I teach bass at guitar center
    your feet could read it ha!
  15. zetzbass


    Mar 6, 2015
    I just joined the Parkinson's club. After a 35 year layoff playing bass, earning a living and running three restaurants in NYC, I am retired and trying to play again. But in my enthusiasm to play like I used to, I have given myself quite a case of tendonitis. I used to play foreverrrrrrrrrrr night after night with out any pain but now both arms and hands are sore. Too much practicing, playing too hard, too fast and too soon. The Parkinson's hasn't been as big of a factor as I thought. It seems that the tremors are worse when the hand is still.

    Any advice for the tendonitis?
  16. mikeyjm2

    mikeyjm2 Keepin' it simple.

    Dec 31, 2014
    Houston, TX
    I suffer this occasionally, as well as sciatica. I've found for both that if I react as quickly to it as possible with ice on the affected area it lessens the intensity and duration of pain. By no means do I present myself as any kind of medical authority here though. Just saying what works for me through observation over the years. Best wishes for pain-free playing.
  17. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    I've got a subluxation (subsheath rupture & dislocation) of my left wrist's Extensor Carpi Ulnaris tendon, or ECU tendon for short. Pretty sure it was brought on by unhealthy posture while at a computer for hours and hours a day, and while I was working to control my wrist bending and otherwise improve my posture, I noticed one night that flexing my pinky down on to the E string was making the tendon pop out of place, not painfully but uncomfortably with a "pop". Playing could have been what caused the actual injury, but only due to the sheath & ligaments being weakened by years of abuse. I've also got early symptoms of cubital tunnel issues in both wrists. Luckily, no carpal tunnel onset at this point.

    Most sufferers of this injury are involved in sports like tennis and golf, and usually have a painful initial point of injury. I didn't have that, so if it wasn't a very traumatic break, that improves the odds of some critical parts still being intact in there, if still weakened.

    Currently, my left wrist is immobilized to keep the tendon from jumping its pocket in the hopes of letting the subsheath heal without the need for surgery. I was able to expense an ergonomic keyboard, and have added a splinting brace for my right wrist to further support it. Prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to assist.

    It will take some time to see the results of the ECU tendon injury treatment, but I'm already getting good results from the right wrist brace. I'm starting to think that, while it looks goofy, wearing basic support braces on both wrists may be a good idea for the long haul, since the wrists are so valuable and complex. Down the road, I see myself doing some light wrist strengthening exercises and basically caring for them in the way I should've done long ago. I've seen other sufferers, post-healing, wear supports or Wrist Widgets during physical activities to further shore them up, and see that in my future as well.
  18. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    i've had to wear a brace on one or the other of my wrists when sleeping for years, and after tearing a rotator cuff in an accident, tore the other by playing longer scale basses and guitars so that i was constantly hyperextending my arm, weakening and stressing the muscles and tendons for hours at a time for years. surgery wasn't recommended, and over time i've had enough improvement that i can play something larger than a ubass or traveler ultra light bass, but it took quite a while and to me a ubass or traveler is no substitute for what i feel is a real bass. that being said, it's a rare 34" bass where the body is small enough, light enough and something i can't figure out enough to play it without shoulder pain, and i can't play basses with large lower bouts when sitting, but i can comfortably play lighter 30" scale basses these days, and i'm very grateful to be able to play again.

    ah, the joys of aging... but it sure beats the alternative!
  19. I fell asleep on my left arm a few days ago and I'm still getting pins and needles from in my arm and hand from it. I've been reluctant to play anything due to fear of making it worse. I'm suspecting that it's a trapped nerve. I'm feeling no pain, it's just annoying as hell. Has this happened to anyone on here before? Should I refrain from playing till its gone?
  20. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota

    What was the context, lying down, sitting down, in bed etc?
    Was your neck stiff or aching when you woke up?
    Did your you impact the elbow when lying on the arm.
    Playing should be fine, but you may feel a few "tingles".
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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