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Needles & Pinza

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bass2x, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    Sorta different than the hand cramp threads...

    I am having problems with my left hand... not technique-wise but physically. I have a 'pins and needles' kinda feel in the fingers that lasts quite a while... sometimes I have to shake it out between songs... sometimes I am hoping I make the end before I lose all feeling. Weird. Never remember anything like this happening to me before. I have been playing/practicing quite a bit... my worst fear is that it's carpal tunnel and not fixable w/o surgery... nerve damage? Body, heal thyself!

    Zoom ... to the bottom!
  2. Sounds like it could be one of two things;

    Nerves (not just carpal tunnel, but even all the way up in your neck - metallers/headbangers pay attention here) can give this sensation. An impinged or inflamed nerve around C2/3 (upper neck) will give your pins and needles in your hands.
    But do you get pain? Or just numbness?
    Impinged nerves in either the neck or carpal's is usually quite painful.

    The other could be circulation - just not enough blood getting around. The simple fact you can "shake it out" makes me think this is the case.
    Just for an experiment, try putting a very tight strap with the goal of stopping circulation across your affected arm (just below your shoulder for max. effect) and try to replicate the result by flexing your arm. Now try the other arm. Difference?
    Is it possible to replicate this effect doing other things? You could try changing technique - or wearing your bass a little different.

    Seriously - if this continues - see a Dr.

    Good Luck,
    smo (your local bassy radiographer ;) )
  3. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    Nope, no pain, just a numbness that comes and goes.
    Been taking my blood pressure just be sure, but it's normal. But, I do feel the pins and needles sensation as the sleeve is pressurizing. So, maybe it is blood flow... hmmm... what would cause that? Haven't injured myself or had any drastic lifesyle changes... other than practicing more than ever for upcoming auditions. Baffling... (I hate doctors!!!)
  4. Drink some ginger tea, does this daily. It helps me with working on computers daily. Also use some tea tree essential oil on the area of the pins and needle feeling. Just a drop each day.

    Hmm I am not a post virgin here anymore. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

    Although I have been reding the posts for a few months, still don't have a bass will get one and start learning after the new year.
  5. There's heaps of different causes for circulation problems.
    One main one that many young people (like myself) suffer from is simply low blood pressure.
    But if yours' is in the normal area?
    I'm no GP, but;

    Here's a little test.
    1. Lie down
    2. Hyperventilate - as fast as possible for about 5 minutes
    3. Stop and hold your breath for as long as you can, when you're fit to burst, stand up.
    4. You will now black out.

    Doesn't prove anything - but try it anyway. :)
    Or better still, get a work mate to do it.

    Honestly - the human body is a very complex beast, but surprisingly simple at the same time - sounds like circulation, but may not be - I'm afraid my medical expertise doesn't really cover this stuff very well.
    Good luck,
  6. I wonder if the strap on you neck might be causing circulation problems. If you play sitting down without it for a while do you still go numb? Moving your head around may help restore circulation.
  7. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    Y'know, Paul, I was thinking the same thing... while practicing earlier today I noticed the strap (3.5" wide) was cutting into my neck on that side. When I moved it over onto my shoulder cap, I could feel my hand immediately getting warm. I don't think it's the whole problem, but maybe a contributing one. I also tried running on the treadmill for 15 mins and afterwards it seemed better for longer. So, I think it is circulation related. I did abandon my cardio (treadmill) workouts about 2 weeks ago, about the time I started my extended practice sessions... not sure about a connection there, but... might as well get back to running daily - can't hurt. Still, I'd like to know why this started and when will it heal... or do I have to offer myself up to the medical community, thrust into it's web of doctors, clinics, labs, etc., etc., etc. Besides, I can't quit playin, not now, too much going on.
  8. Which fingers? All of them or just some?

    The radial nerve distribution is responsible for the sensation in your pointer, middle and half of the ring finger as welll as most of your palm. The ulnar nerve distribution is responsible for the other half of the ring finger and the pinky as well as the side of your hand (draw a line down the middle of your ring finger to your wrist and you'll get the picture).

    Carpal tunnel is compression of the radial nerve at the wrist and gives you loss os sensation and fine motor skills in the above fingers, and can also be associated with pain due to inflammation around the nerve.

    I have ulnar compression which means I have reduced sensation in my pinky and ring finger and some slowing of the motor skills in those fingers. This can be caused at the wrist (cubital tunnel syndrome) or most commonly at the elbow which is where I have it.

    Both nerve systems go up to the brachial plexus under your collar bone and then into the neck.

    If all your fingers are going numb, this could be either your wrist angle being too sharp or your collarbone area being compressed (do you watch your hand as you play or hunch your shoulder up as you support the bass?), or it could be your neck.

    If it's only some then it could be one or the other nerve.

    Either way if it starts happening with more regularity you need to get it checked out straight away and possibly modify your work/play practice or you will end up like me - it's curable in many cases simply by changing your arm position (mine is while I sleep and when I work on the computer - not playing) but it can take up to 18 months to fix itself if you leave it too long.
  9. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    Daffy, yer scaring me, man...
    There's no pain, so I eliminated the nerve problem. But, what do I know. It's been slow developing, but now that I think about it, it's grown from a once in a while problem to a quite frequent problem. Guess I better get it checked out. Thanks for the detailed explantion, 'preciate it.

    Incidently, I do adjust the strap height of my bass often in an attempt to relieve sharp wrist angles, but haven't found the ideal position. And, yes, I have a habit of watching my left hand. Guess that makes me a candidate, huh?
  10. I have no pain either - maybe occasional pain in the elbow but nothing bad.

    My first symptom was infrequent numbness/tingling in the ring finger on one side, then more permanent numbness, then the pinky.

    I would occasionally be woken by total numbness on the side of my hand and would find I was sleeping with my hands under my chin and my elbows bent hard (my wife is a very agrressive sleeper ;) ).

    The clincher came when I found I was stumbling over scales at speeds I could normally play at - my little finger was getting in the way and I was not coordinating my left and right hands as I struck the string. Now I'm not that great, and they are traditionally the weakest fingers so I started doing a bunch of exercises (spiders are great for that), but they almost got worse rather than better.

    Now I have a medical diagnosis that I can quote for being a bad bass player :D
  11. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    Hmmm... not good... sounds like the path I'm on.
    So, what's the cure? What'd the doc say?
  12. It's very simple but takes a while to heal.

    Firstly - GET DIAGNOSED PROPERLY!! I went to a doc and got a referral to a neurologist. They did an initial exam and told me it was ulnar nerve somewhere, and then did a nerve conduction study. This is where they wire you up to a computer and measure the amplitude and speed of the nerve impulses going through your arms from different points to figure out where the block actually is.

    They do this by putting sensors on different spots and then sending small electric shock pulses from your fingers back (that measures the sensory nerve capability or "action potential" - mine was so small it was not measureable, hence the numbness), and then slightly larger shocks from your arm forward to measure the motor nerve impulse (they also measure the distance to figure out the speed of travel - mine slowed down through the elbow hence the clumsiness).

    These shocks make your arm and fingers jump round but they are only a little unpleasant - they don't hurt at all.

    Once they found the problem area the treatment is all manual. I wear a soft splint at night to pad the elbow and keep the arm straight - it's actually a neoprene sports knee brace and is loose, but is uncomfortable if you bend your arm. This is more to train me to sleep with my arms straighter. I also have to not lean on the soft side of my elbow AT ALL (the "funnybone" part - that's actually the ulnar nerve and is where my problem is), and have to change my work practice to avoid acute bending of the elbow for long periods of time - right now I have the keyboard further away than most people so I don't bend too much.

    And that's it for now - he wants to see me in Feb, or if it gets worse. I have noticed that it's kind of reversing itself - it is now more intermittent than before and I have bad days and good days (last night was a shocker - fumbled a few songs and had to drop every second note a couple of times), or rather good hours and bad hours in a day.

    The best bit is that he said playing won't affect it *in my case* - I don't have any sharp bends in my action at either wrist, elbow or shoulder. In fact, one of the severe symptoms is weakness and shrinking of the muscles on the back of the hand and playing is keeping them in tone, so he said keep doing it. This is something you have to find out individually - it may be your action that is causing the problem.

    Good luck man!
  13. groove100


    Jan 22, 2005
    i was just wondering if you do regular exercise. like running or something.
  14. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    No, I used to be fit, but I've slacked off... really need to start back in on the physical conditioning. Gonna start tomorrow. Honest.

    Yeah, time to make the appointment with the doc. That's a sad story, daffy. But look at the bright side, you have an excuse!
  15. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    Repetitive stress frequently leads to entrapment neuropathies, a special category of compression injury. Cumulative damage can result from repetitive, forceful, awkward activities that require flexing of any group of joints for prolonged periods. The resulting irritation may cause ligaments, tendons, and muscles to become inflamed and swollen, constricting the narrow passageways through which some nerves pass. These injuries become more frequent during pregnancy, probably because weight gain and fluid retention also constrict nerve passageways.

    Not that I'm pregnant, but I have gained weight.
    And been pratcicing like a fool on caffein.
    It's all beginning to add up, Bones...
  16. lawrens


    Nov 26, 2005
    recently i experienced a pain problem in my left (fretting) hand : i found the explanation : i tried playing with the bass lower :scowl:

    as soon as i adjust the bass position, i mean higher, the problem disapeared a couple of days later :D