Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bassdude73, Jul 10, 2013.

  1. bassdude73


    Mar 15, 2011
    Fellas ,
    Im doing a paper for my degree in Music . The topic is about Physical injuries / pain experienced by bass players , resulting from bad technique , heavy basses , un ergonomical basses, etc .Im referring to injuries like tendonitis , carpal tunnel syndrome , low back pain , nerve compressio,etc .

    I myself had HNP at my lumbar L5 S1. So I want to dedicate my paper to other fellow bass players .
    I need data cases actually experienced by bass players .
    I would really appreciate if you guys having or have had any injury in the past share me the experience . Kindly shoot me an email with your story .Medical data ,Xray ,doctor's verdict / recipe ,srgery report . etc would be great . Also share me the way out or steps you guys took to overcome or therapy the pain / injury .
    Thanks in advance guys.
    cheers to happy and healthy bass playing !!
    best regards

    email : [email protected]
  2. My story is pretty complex, so it'll take some time to detail.

    My injury was also (originally) at L5/S1. A failed fusion and six surgeries later, it's still not fixed and I'm left permanently disabled. Even a Spinal Cord Stimulator implant (which malfunctioned several times, forcing its eventual removal) failed to help.

    I originally injured myself in April of 2008, while at work at a local music store (which I can't name for legal reasons). I was unloading a shipment of amplifiers, and the name on the box said Crate.

    Now we've all seen Crate amps, they're pretty well known for being solid-state, lightweight POS's. I lifted the amp out of the shipping box, expecting an easy 20 pound enclosure. It just so happened that Crate had just released a TUBE amp, so what I expected to weigh 20 pounds actually weighed closer to 70 pounds!!

    Everyone around me heard the pop as the disk at L5/S1 tore in half. I instantly was on the floor, screaming in pain. Within an hour, I was at a workers comp doctor's office, being checked out.

    The workers comp doctor saw me weekly for about six months, and never in that time period did anything other than medicate me. By the time I was actually x-rayed, the injury had been made much worse, and the disk was completely destroyed. Even worse, I was now addicted to Percocet and Soma.

    The workers comp doctor finally sent me to physical therapy, saying that my injury was probably a pulled muscle. Six weeks of PT obviously did nothing but make me feel even worse, so the decision was made to try a round of Cortisone injections. Remember, at this point there had been NO x-rays, NO MRI's, just guessing on the workers comp doctor's part.

    The cortisone injection relieved the pain enough to get me back to work. So I went back to work, only to have it flare up again a few weeks later. I came home from work one day and sat down, and couldn't stand back up! Something was definitely wrong.

    I set an appointment for a second, outside opinion. While I work I got a phone call from the workers comp insurance company, telling me that since I returned to work, they were denying responsibility for my injury. ***!?! I then received a call from the second doctor's office, saying that my appointment had been cancelled and that the insurance wouldn't pay for me to be seen.

    So now I was completely laid up, unable to even walk, and couldn't get a doctor to see me. Frustrated, I called a lawyer. He managed to get me an appointment with a local specialist, who right away ordered an MRI. A lawsuit was filed to protect myself and to get my growing medical bills paid.

    Then I get another call from the workers comp insurance adjuster, saying that I had to through what they called an "independent medical exam." What this is, is a doctor on the payroll of the workers comp insurance company, hired to report that my injury didn't exist.

    The appointment was a nightmare. In trying to prove that I was faking my injury, he twisted me into a pretzel, obviously warranting screams of pain from me. My ride that day had to carry me to the car when we left. My injury was made much worse by that exam, and the report came back that I was indeed injured (yeah, no crap!). Still, workers comp refused to pay.

    My lawyer went to bat for me, scheduling appointment with specialists that were willing to see me. It wasn't easy, because at that point, nobody knew how they were getting paid.

    I had several rounds of injections that did nothing, and finally the decision was made to operate. Went through a discogram to find the true source of the pain. It was the most painful experience of my life, with each disk being inflated with dye until they found the bad one, which showed itself by creating the worst pain I had ever felt. I actually was told that I created a few new swear words that day, when they inflated the bad disk.

    In September of 2009, over a year later, a spinal fusion was done at L5/S1. The recovery from that surgery was horrible.

    In October of 2009, I got married. At least that's what the paperwork says, I have no memory of the wedding thanks to the massive amounts of painkillers I was now on. Over a hundred people at the wedding, and I don't remember even being there.

    The fusion failed, the pain never letting up even a little.

    At this point (I think I have my timeline correct), I won my lawsuit, and workers comp was bound by law to pay my medical bills pertaining to this for the rest of my life (as well as a substantial settlement). Even though I won the case, it's to this day always a headache to get my bills paid. Always a runaround.

    After the fusion failed, more PT. I also was sent to get acupuncture, which did nothing to help.

    Another option was presented. A Spinal Cord Stimulator implant. A small battery would be implanted in my lower back, with leads installed in my upper back. The implant send an electrical impulse through my nerves in my back, to interrupt the pain signals. Sounds great in theory. It didn't work.

    Shortly after receiving the implant, my body started to reject it. I'm a skinny guy, and the SCS required a fatty area to be placed into. Within a few months, it started to push itself to the surface of my skin, and the decision was made to operate again to relocate it to my abdomen.

    Two weeks after it was moved, the battery in my stomach FLIPPED OVER!! So they had to go back in again, and flip it back over. At this point I'm on surgery #5, and hopelessly addicted to OxyContin.

    After repositioning the battery, the implant started to malfunction. Out of the blue it would turn itself on, and shock the hell out of me.

    Here's what it looked like inside. The screws are from the fusion, and you can see the battery for the SCS. I also have a spot in my upper back, between my shoulder blades, where a section of my spine was removed to place the leads.

    After all the surgeries I was left in more pain than I started. The doctor that ordered all the operations was mysteriously fired, and I was left with no doctor willing to help.

    Finally finding a new doctor, the SCS was removed. The pain was no better, and to this day I'm left to use whatever means I can find to ease my pain.

    At one point I was very close to giving up on playing music. It was just too painful.

    I started to sell off my basses to find better balanced, lighter ones. It helped but only a little.

    Today, I'm finally off the opiates after a horrible withdrawal, and still doing everything I can to keep playing.

    Then I found the Gruv Gear Duostrap. It's a dual strap system that evenly distributes the weight of my bass to both shoulders. Now, instead of being forced to lean to one side to counteract the weight of my bass, I'm able to stand up straight when I play. I talked at great length with Damian Erskine, the bassist who designed the Duostrap, before buying it. I've got a huge box filled with every gadget you can imagine, I've tried them all.

    The Duostrap has been a godsend. I'm able to play again, without drugs, and with a lot less pain than a standard strap. I'm not an endorser, but I would in a heartbeat. This thing saved my career.
    I'm not totally pain-free, but it has been a HUGE improvement.

    After almost six years, I'm left on disability, unable to work. I can't stand for more than a few minutes without having to stop and sit down (there's always a barstool on my side of the stage now), and can't walk more than a block without being laid up the next day.

    My back will never be back to normal, and I'm left with a torso covered in scars to serve as a reminder of the while mess.
  3. Oops.
  4. bassdude73


    Mar 15, 2011
    man , that was deepest sympathy for what you ve been must have a strong heart .really glad that you re able to play again..I think im gonna buy a strap like that..Im using heavy Alembic basses.
  5. The strap is awesome. I wasn't convinced until I tried it, but it really does make a big difference in the perceived weight of my basses.
  6. I should also add that the Duostrap is unique in that you can adjust where on your back the straps contact. This is especially important to me because a standard guitar strap lays directly over where I'm missing a section of bone. Normal straps are excruciating, but the Duostrap sits over my right shoulder blade, out of the way of any tender spots.
  7. bassdude73


    Mar 15, 2011
    RT ,
    What happened to the damaged L5/S1 disc? Did they replace with artificial / titanium disc ?
  8. Fused the vertebrae and put in metal brackets. Insurance refused to cover replacement.
  9. bassdude73


    Mar 15, 2011
    Anybody else willing to share their injury experience ?
    I Really need the info .
    TIA .
  10. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Something that is seldom mentioned is what I call a "stone bruise." Ever step on a round pebble or a marble, or something like that and get a stone bruise on the bottom of your foot? It's like that, only on your fret hand finger tip. I've had two, one on my pinky and one on my index finger. I got both from overplaying, and pressing the strings too hard. It takes a long time for it to heal. I didn't go to the doc, though, but just had to go easy with my playing. Had to not use my pinky for about three weeks. Playing 123 on the lower frets was really hard for that time (I normally play 124). Luckily, for the one on my index finger I had no gigs for about two weeks, so it was easier to heal. I understand it is basically a blister that comes up under your callous, so you have to be careful while it heals.

    Hope that helps with your paper. Good luck finishing your degree. I got mine in 1976.
  11. I've had those. They suck. Usually the index finger for some reason.
  12. deOdin


    Jul 30, 2010
    I suffer from tendonitis for the past 3 years on my left hand pinky finger. Though it sounds like a “light” injury, actually it was pretty bad and still having a pain in my hand while writing this post. I’m 27, 1.85 m (6’11”) and around 85 kg (187 lbs) so an average body. My problems with my left hand have started when I cracked a wrist bone (I checked Wikipedia for bone name – its trapezium) nearly into half just before entering puberty. It took nearly 6 years to heal the cracked bone. I had a normal puberty and with continuous bone development, the crack couldn’t has been able heal completely. Between ages 12-18 I had to wear wrist cast periodically to ease the pain. I should add that no internal operation had been done to the bone. I’m also dominantly left handed so I had to do everything I do with that injured wrist. Then the pain has decayed over time after ages 18-19 and I don’t feel like have to wear casts anymore.

    I started playing electric guitar at the age 17, but not working too much on that, just like a teenage hobby and I had a little keyboard history before that. Also though being a hardcore left-handed, I play guitars right-handed. I started playing bass around 21 and working seriously on bass for the last 3-4 years. After I switched to bass and started using it more frequently, my wrist pain has started to reappear lightly over time. As I suffered from it for years, I haven’t really cared about that light pain, it was just routine for me.

    Last year around this time, my pain suddenly got worse as I increased the bass exercise to a very serious level (5-6 hours a day – pretty “serious” level for an ADHD guy), and over time I realized that the problem wasn’t my wrist its my pinky finger. One day my whole arm had gone into cramp (from fingers to elbow) with intense pain and felt the pain for 2 following days then I said “its time to go to doc” – I hate hospitals just like everyone :ninja:

    The doctor inspected my hand and asked whether I’m a musician or athlete, so my answer was musician then the next thing he said was “change your instrument”. After some xrays and stuff he told me that it’s tendonitis on middle pinky joint with a mid-high level and firstly he wanted to treat it with meds before surgery with an instrumental break. I also mentioned my previous wrist injury and he said “It’s not very likely for two of these might be connected but, during the puberty period it might have affected the muscle development in your hand and made your bones and joints more vulnerable for such cases.” I never exercised my arms seriously because of my injury and this makes pretty sense. I admit that my arms are not that muscular with respect to rest of my body.

    For nearly 2 months I used voltaren (diclofenac) from fingers to wrist without playing any instruments (surely I played but very lightly with short periods) and I exercised my hand with firstly light then medium handgrips to support it with wrist movements. My tendonitis got better over time, never fully recovered but at least avoided surgery. Now I’m studying jazz piano with increasing pace (story familiar? :D) and my finger pain has restarted. I’m now applying voltaren before I grab piano or bass, it helps a little.

    I must add that when I'm away from any instrument for 3-4 days and more, after I return, my playing ability (pace and flexibility) increases significantly for the next 2-3 days, then it returns to its normal level. Probably this is connected to my tendonitis.

    Sorry for my English, text flow is a little bit poor. :hyper:
  13. Cycho


    Nov 30, 2010
    I lost the use of my left little finger to arthritis. When you move to a higher fret the little finger is the first to get there, but if you use it there is a lot of lateral stress on the joint. When I was younger that worked OK but at some point I started to experience pain and eventually the finger tip was angled about 30 degrees away from the rest of the finger! I had to stop using it which forced me to re-learn everything. The finger tip actually returned to a normal position which seemed to surprise my doctors. Now I fret with three fingers only. If I had been a great player in the first place that would be a tragedy. It's not a tragedy!
  14. bassdude73


    Mar 15, 2011
    Russel , I remember I use to get those too ..disappeared quickly though..
    DeOdin..sorry to hear about your tendonitis ..
    Cycho..pinky is quite hard to use...hope you dont lose spirit!
    Rip Topaz..please dont quit ..keep the groove bro..
    GUYS ,..thanks to all..I really appreciate the inputs. and really helps ...Im on last pages on my paper now..hope will finish next week ..
    best rehards
    God bless us all...
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    My big thing is my left shoulder. In 2001 or 2, I bought a 98 Jazz that I absolutely loved, but as I got older (I'm 52 now), the weight of it became impossible. I did everything I could think of to try to keep it, tried 6 or 7 different straps to try to make it feel lighter, and nothing worked. Finally, the only thing that truly worked was selling it and getting a lighter bass. The Gruv Gear strap Rip is modeling, while being what seems like a very cool solution to that problem, is impossible for me because I swap from electric to upright and our drummer just barely gives me enough time to switch and sometimes doesn't give me any. So I use a lighter bass and a wider strap these days and that seems to be working to keep the pain from getting worse, although after a very long gig I'll still get some pain.

    Another thing I had problems with is using a pick. After 30 seconds of using a pick, my right hand would get an excruciating pain and I'd have to stop. Even quit using a pick for a couple years. I switched to the Carol Kaye pick method (described here in this forum and on her website...the thread I wrote about it just got bumped to the top) and all pain in my right hand is gone.
  16. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    I've had minor forms of the "stone bruising" RusellL mentioned.

    My personal injury from bass playing is from overdoing it/possibly bad technique on my finger picking hand.
    I was jamming with some friends after not having played for a year, I really got into it and started playing very aggressively with my picking fingers (pointer and index finger in my right hand). This led to me getting an inflamed tendon (tendonitis?) in between the bones that form a "V" just above the knuckles of the 2 fingers mentioned above.
    Since then, (14 years ago) if I don't warm up enough, or if I play for too long, or, what aggravates it most, play fast for too long, it gets tender and inflamed again. It really sucks, but I've learned to work around it. Most times, when playing very fast music, I now use a pick.

    I hope this helps.
  17. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    A keg fell on me and I was ****ed up...