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upper back/shoulder pull/strain

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by settedollar, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. settedollar


    Sep 8, 2008
    For being only 30, I'm a broken, broken man. I want to see if anybody else has had similar problems to this, and what they did to fix it:

    Twice now in the past 2 years, I've pulled/strained a muscle in my upper back. I'm pretty sure it's the Serratus Posterior Superior; the pain is centered just above the shoulder blade, and a bit towards the spine. When I pull the muscle, it ends up in extreme pain (I kid you not, I prefer having a migraine to this pain) in that spot & radiating out to my arm, and then lowering amounts of pain over more than a month.

    I've been fighting various amounts (typically low, except after a strain) of pain in this area for years due to guitar/bass playing. I even spent $150 on a thick, padded, leather, double-shoulder strap (http://www.gruvgear.com/duostrap) which helps, but obviously is not enough.

    I get massages (from a great, therapeutic therapist), I've done PT, my "normal" MD doc hasn't done anything but give me good drugs for when I'm in extreme pain, I do self-trigger point therapy, stretching, yoga, etc. etc. All of this has led me to being nearly pain-free there for a few weeks. Last night, I had a 2-hour gig. Today, I did yoga. About 1 hour after yoga, I looked at my PC wrong & pulled the muscle again.

    Anybody ever had anything like this? This seems more specific/serious than just "my shoulder hurts when I play." Am I just doomed to ALWAYS sitting while I play because my body just can't handle standing? I admit, I play fairly heavy instruments, but the weight is almost perfectly evenly split between both shoulders, and my issues are ONLY in the left shoulder (I'm a right-handed player).

  2. 2 Tylenol Arthritis every morning and a sling strap helps me.
  3. AndrewDavis


    Oct 18, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    I'm sorry to hear that. I'm in the same boat. I've been dealing with a really tough upper trapezius strain for the better part of 8 months. I play a Wal bass which is very heavy and isn't helping things one bit. I've completed a course of PT which really hasn't helped. I'm getting an MRI soon to make sure it isnt something more than a strain. I'm only 25 and i really shouldn't be going through this much ********.

    Is there any sort of strap or harness that doesn't utilize the left shoulder? That is what i really need.
  4. settedollar


    Sep 8, 2008
    Yeah, Andrew I hate being young & broken. I have a 2-month-old at home & can't really do much with him because of the pain, but at least mine *should* go away.

    I probably have about $500 worth of straps in my basement. The only one I found that was really good is the DuoStrap I mentioned above. It goes over both shoulders, and is big & decently padded. It's $150, but worth it. It (along with some PT, massage, etc. etc.) was enough to keep the constant low-level pain away for the most part.

  5. Banky


    Apr 24, 2007
    Windy Kansas
    The strap that worked for me is the D'addario inflatable strap. It's no longer made, but I saw one for sale in the classified forum recently.
  6. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    All I can say is get the weight down on your bass. I'm pushing 50 and always played 10-12 Lb basses. I am starting to see that lighter basses are the better way to go. All mine now are under 9 Lbs. Balance helps too. I still practice standing up exclusively for 2 hours + every day.
  7. Riverrunsred


    Jan 20, 2010
    Central FL
    Are you sure it's a strained muscle? I thought I had the same thing, nope.......herniated disk.
  8. settedollar


    Sep 8, 2008
    Not positive, no. Last time I had this sudden extreme pain, I saw my GP & a PT. The PT noticed that my T2 vertebrae was slightly twisted but didn't see anything else the matter. My massage therapist is also trained in therapeutic massage, so she'd probably notice something like that as well. I see my chiropractor again on Tuesday, so we'll see what he says about it.
  9. Riverrunsred


    Jan 20, 2010
    Central FL
    If you at all possible get an MRI, that will give you a definitive answer . I did treatments 3x weekly at a chiropractor and the pain is not nearly as noticeable.
    I actually have 3 disks that are essentially gone.

    I hope for the best for you !
  10. AndroWal


    Sep 28, 2003
    Ojai, CA

    Being a devout Wal player, the weight issue and shoulder pain is well known to me. After years of playing my Wal Mark IIs, I purchase a couple of Wal Mark IIIs which are spectacularly balanced and not too heavy.

    I still love my Mark IIs and after speaking with Paul at Wal, and doing some experimentation myself, found that the headstock weight can be reduced by about 1 lb (for 5-string Wals) by switching from the stock tuners to Hipshot Ultralites. You can get the Ultralites with the same shaft size. I haven't yet switched, but will and this will make these Wals much more balanced...actually really well balanced and get the overall weight into a tolerable range. That 1 lb out at the end of the neck is truly a real pain.

    And regarding other potential causes of pain....my wife is a DPT...Doctor of Physical Therapy. Many times she recommends the writings of Dr. Sarno. He has written a definitive book on back pain although the points he makes can be applied to many chronic pains that we experience. He has found that many times these chronic pains we have are stress induced....Look his stuff up if you are interested and can be open to the idea that it can be very much in our heads and not in our bodies. I chronically threw my back out and after being exposed to Sarno's information, and looking at my "injury (ies)" in a different way....they went away more quickly and now I don't experience them anymore.
  11. So 'no bass, no pain'?
    And bass w/strap, pain returns?
    There's your answer.

    Check the Slinger 'Sling Strap', or their 'Hip Strap' solution to this.
    Maybe see an Alexander Technique practitioner, one with experience with musos.
    Osteopaths specializing in manual therapy are rare in US, but worth chasing one up. (Contact Amer Osteopathic Assoc).
    Could also be Levator Costarum, or unresolved rib joint problem.

    Play bass for hours but can't/won't pick up your own child..... sorry to say it, but you probably need to look into this more.