Help! Tendonitis!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by SethCarter, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. SethCarter


    Jul 29, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    I didn't know if any other threads had been started regarding this but I really need help from any of you who have had this condition and have managed to get through it. Is it possible to get over it sans putting the bass down for a long time (i.e. 2 months to 1 year)? Also, what can I do to help it heal. I don't want to regress anymore than I already have over the past few months being unable to practice consistently.
  2. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    RICE method:

    Rest - Most importantly. When it hurts, it's your body's way of telling you to stop.
    Ice - Ice it when necessary, reduces swelling.
    Compression - I use sweatbands on my wrist. That bit of support helps. When I'm not playing, it spends a lot of time in an Ace bandage.
    Elevation - Keep it above your heart, elevate it to remove excess fluids to prevent swelling.

    As far as resting: there's a lot of practicing you can do without a bass. My carpal tunnel syndrom is bad in my right hand so I play basslines on a keyboard. Great for figuring stuff out.

    Adjust your playing style. I went from a low slinging rocker to a nerd bass around my neck type, but it's improved my playing and my pain. Find something better for you.

    If you must, visit a teacher, explain your predicament. A good teacher should be able to help you adjust.

    Also check out the book by Dr. Randall Kertz. I can't endorse this book enough, it's done me wonders. Proper stretching in a book from a bass playing chiropractic physician, can't go wrong. Check it out at
  3. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    I just went through this. First, go see your doctor. Ask him about an orthotic band for your arm. This redirects the stress on the tendon cluster. Find the specific behavior that causes the stress. For me, it was picking PA stuff up in a certain way that did the primary damage and lifting my work materials compounded it. I had to go the most extreme route: Cortisone therapy. This is supposedly the end of the line for non-invasive approaches (according to my doctor).
  4. As mentioned, RICE is good.

    I cut back on practice but continued playing with the band. I got relief wearing an icy/hot sleeve and taking aleve when I had to play. Make sure to ice down after playing.

    Good luck, It can take a while to recover. Did I mention ice?
  5. Although not quite the same, I developed an issue with my right shoulder that seems to get worse whenever I play for an extended period of time.

    I went to see a physiotherapist (and actually took my bass along with me!) who analysed my technique and stance and has helped me out alot. It took awhile to get used to adjusting things even slightly, but it was worth the effort.

    It's always something worth remembering, particularly for young players when they're starting out. If you can get your technique right when you're young it'll save alot of problems in the future.

  6. SethCarter


    Jul 29, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    Thanks guys. I went to a chiropractor and got some advice as well as some supplements to help heal my tendons. If I don't use my left arm at all, as in no playing :(, I should be back to normal in 6 weeks according to him. He also suggested I do some light strengthening excercises after a few weeks.
    I don't think my technique caused it since my strap is set as high as it will go. I think it started when I decided I would learn to play upright bass over the course of 2 months in my senior year of high school last december for our school's musical production of West Side Story. Long story short, I learned the part but all the excessive force and the 2-4 hours a day practicing I was putting on a cheap school instrument was no match for my small forearm muscles and I ended up trashing them.
  7. What did he give you to heal the tendon?
  8. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    It's all about excercising your hands properly. Stretching a bit helps me usually. What's really wierd is that I can't play a pick on bass, but I can on guitar. When playing pick on a bass, my right hand cramps up and I end up dropping the pick. So, it's mainly fingerstyle for me.

    As far as the left hand goes, I try to have my bass set up for ease of playing while still being high enough not to buzz. I tend to have a heavier touch, but playing has never really hurt if I do it right. BUT, playing guitar (lots of barre chords) KILLS my left hand. It's wierd.

    I'll also say that I do a lot of mechanic work on cars, and my hands get quite a bit of abuse from that, unfortunately. Cars are carpal tunnel generators, for real!
  9. I'm kinda scared about this, when I play, I like to play aggressively. People say playing with lighter touch and turning up your amp is the way to go, but I love that growl you can only get when really digging in. The problem is, my hands get so tense from playing, and after a set or so I start to cramp up. I didn't just all of a sudden decide I wanted to play hard, I always have and it felt natural and I never thought of it until lately. I'm 19 and I'm afraid I might have already done damage. I wrists started to hurt lately, but not after I was playing, it was after I lifted some gear.
  10. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Work smarter, not harder. Get a dolly for moving heavy gear. For real.

    As far as growly sound goes, you could play with pickup height, and play right over the bridge pickup. I do this on my spector, and I have no problems with getting growl, and my hands aren't over worked.
  11. ldervish


    May 22, 2005
    Johnson City, TN
    Years ago I got tendonitis in my elbow grabbing/lifting heavy sacks of mail by gripping the canvas, for hours every night.

    I was prescribed Butyzolidin (sp?) which is what they used to give race horses so they could run injured. It was interesting, didn't remove the pain but kind of muffled it. AFAIK it was only for the pain, not to treat the tendonitis.

    So what worked? RICE therapy helped, as did lifting the sacks with my hands flat whenever possible, thereby changing pressures and locations of pressure to areas which were not injured. And it took months and months before I could grab something heavy again without twinges.

    You didn't say (or I didn't see it) if it is in your wrist or elbow. I see lots of people using the orthotic bands for elbow tendonitis, esp in sports like golf, tennis, racquetball etc. where gripping is where it's at, and suspect you could get through a practice without regressing by using one. I think they are readily available at drug stores/ med supply places.

    You need to keep in the game, if you can do it without losing ground. As Folmeister said, it can lead to places you don't want to go.
  12. I squeezed a cheap pair of wire crimpers waay to hard, whilst working on my car on July 3rd, this year.

    My left index finger got pinched right towards the base of the finger, and it still hasn't healed....I'm learning that trying to work through the pain, and pushing it harder is only prolonging my pain everyday, even if I take supplements like glucosamine..

    I never sleep enough at night, and am seriously in need of the R.I.C.E. principle (thanks to Tplyons)...ignoring your body is baad

    Hopefully we'll be back to playing soon, and without too much pain!

    Good luck.:)
  13. Read: stuff to charge more money

    Really man, you should go see a real medical doctor and make sure there is no lasting damage that needs to be addressed.
  14. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I wouldn't quite say this. As a CTS sufferer, I've noticed a fair amount of improvement (albeit not a cure) since I started consiously making sure I had my RDA of Vitamins B-5, B-6 and B-12. Nothing a multivitamin can't do.

    What most don't realize is that your diet affects your nerves too. Tread your body like a temple and it will be nice to you. Treat it like Disney World and the rides sometimes break down.

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