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Possible CTS or RSI: I can't play guitar for awhile...

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(@corbind)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1744
Topic starter  

It's been weird lately. I've had to NOT play guitar for many days now
(maybe 10 days). Instead of my guitar/strap sitting in a hanger on my
wall, it's been in the hard case. I'm kinda scared my days of
playing are over. Even the beer doesn't even mask the pain I like it used to.
Pain is in the wrist bone on
outside of my fretting wrist .

I've had problems for about 2 years now (been playing almost 6). But
it's gotten to the point I believe I've done some damage playing when
I shoudn't have. I've played every day (even if a little bit) pretty
much since I started unless I was sick or out of town.

I kinda question what I've done wrong in that there are many guitar
players, including you guys, who have played for 20-30 years and are
still going. I don't think I wear the guitar too low nor my posture too
crazy. But maybe the repetitive use of chords has gotten to me. As
well as using the keyboard (computer, that is) daily. I'll be very, very sad
if I can't play guitar anymore. Guitar is such a blast.

Have any of you guys had CTS or other problems with your fretting
wrist in your playing guitar or bass? I'm really worried. I have no
health insurance and no way to assess it. At the last band practice played
but told them "I don't know how long I can play." At the next one I
did not even bring any gear. I just sat there listening. Was nice to
hear the band, but sucked not playing. I emailed everyone I'd likely
not be playing guitar again until March or so unless my wrist feels
better.

So at home I've been trying to sing to songs (yea, it sounds like
----) but I have to do something. I've thought about buying a keyboard
(not computer) and trying to learn it with my right hand in this hiatus.
God, I can't believe I've messed up my wrist.

Sorry for the lament. I'm just very sad about it all and wondering
how to fix it. It even hurts to turn a door knob with my left hand.
Heck, I even played one of the other guitar players guitar. It's a lefty.
I tried that a few nights and it reminded me of when I first started playing.
I could not finger the chords with my right hand and strum
lefty worth a crap. But I tried. I thought about trying to play lefty
but I don't want to go through all that relearning.

Anyway, any help would be appreciated.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


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(@pearlthekat)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1472
 

i can see why this is a big problem. i've been worried about my left hand lately since i've been getting some tingling.

yo should see a doctor even if you have to pay yourself. rest alone will help but you should see someone and get some physical therapy. (disclaimer: im a physical therapist.) You need exercise, stretching, etc.


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(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6353
 

listen the pearlthekat!

a long time ago I thought I had CTS. I could not do anything. sleep was even painful. I had the electrical test. and we discovered my wrist was fine. the trouble was in my neck C7 vertebrae was pinched and it effected my hand. I went through the P.T. learned that my posture was wrong and worked through the years to learn and achieve better posture. my 'CTS' went away. get the tests and find out. it will be worth it. five years after that incident I had a gig were I played for five hours. not one problem.
you should be able to play guitar again.

I have a sprianed wrist that is slow healing. I am going to take pearlthekats advice and get checked.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
 

I've had problems with my left hand ever since I severed a tendon a couple of years back, just where the middle finger meets the back of the hand. I was about a month or so in plaster, and as soon as that was off, I was back to the guitar again.

The first thing I noticed was that my hand was a lot weaker, and less flexible. Over time, I've recovered some of the former strength, but by no means all of it - from having no trouble at all playing barre chords (except for getting my fingers in the right places!) I had to strain to hold one down, especially a Bm or F#m. So I've adapted - most barre chords I now play with my thumb fretting the bass notes. Most people would tell you this isn't good musical practise, but hell, if I play a full song using barre chords, my hand tends to cramp up.

As for flexibility - I can no longer do a five-fret stretch like I used to do. I've been struggling, for example, with the intro to "Under The Bridge." (see tab in Easy Songs.) I just have to live with that - the knuckle where the tendon was severed is a mass of scar tissue, and it's twice as big as the corresponding knuckle on my right hand. Playing guitar a lot has helped with that - gradually, I've regained a lot of flexibility, but again, not all.

What you could try is playing with the lightest strings possible - I use 9's on all my guitars now, and have the action as low as possible. I played a friend's Strat - with 10's for about an hour or so a few weeks back, and my hand was really aching the next day, so I'm convinced that the lighter gauge works for me. I'd use 8's if I could get away with them, but in my experience, the top E snaps far too easily.

Like Pearl said, rest & recuperation is usually the key - in my case, I actually played - for the first couple of months anyway - in quite a bit of pain, but where guitars are concerned I'm very impatient - I just want to PLAY! I do tend to get an ache these days in the ball of my thumb that's pretty much permanently there, but it's one of those things I'll just have to live with. The other option's not playing guitar, and I won't even think about that!

Hope it's nothing serious, Dennis!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

Playing position can be a major issue with wrist problems. Playing with a low-slung, horizontal guitar makes you bend your fretting wrist around at a very cramped angle to play. Puts a lot of strain on tendons. The more closely you approach the guitar, arm and hand arrangement of the classical guitarists' playing position, the better off you'll be. May not look "cool," but it works.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

Just a possibility to consider: You use a Blackberry or similar? I use a Pearl (that's a Blackberry, not 'thecat ) extensively and found that I had developed Blackberry thumb on my left (fretting) hand only. Took a while to figure out it was unrelated to guitar. One day the light just dawned... Had to modify very consistently my use of the BB. Months later the thumb finally is getting better.

-=tension & release=-


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(@unimogbert)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 174
 

Might not be the guitar at all.
If you are keyboarding with bad ergonomics for long periods that'll hurt you too.

I had a bout with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and still have sensitivity to long keyboard sessions.

Use Search and look up the proper way to position and use computer keyboards. Makes a big difference.

Early treatment is Ibuprofen, ice, and rest.

My case was so bad that the only thing that has really helped beyond striving for perfect hand positioning on the keybard was learning to type in Dvorak layout for best finger efficiency. Makes me incompatible with "standard" key layout but has been well worth it.

Good luck! DO NOT JUST PUSH THRU THIS or damage will become permanent!

Unimogbert
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

Might not be the guitar at all.
If you are keyboarding with bad ergonomics for long periods that'll hurt you too.

Exactly my point.

-=tension & release=-


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(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5492
 

I hate to hear you're going through this. Hope it gets better soon.

Just a thought on guitar playing though. Maybe you can set one on your lap, face up, and do some slide for a few months? It's quite a different angle and may not put anywhere near as much stress on your wrist.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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 Bish
(@bish)
Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3765
 

Hey, man, sorry to hear about your painful wrist.

I hope you get well soon and discover it has nothing to do with the guitar.

Bish

"I play live as playing dead is harder than it sounds!"


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(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5134
 

Dennis,

I hope it gets better soon. If you can, see a doctor.

Tim

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


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(@pearlthekat)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1472
 

Vic: Have you thought about using all 8s except for the high E string?


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
 

Vic: Have you thought about using all 8s except for the high E string?

ummmm - no.....

But wouldn't that involve buying a set of 8's then buying an extra 9 for the top E? One problem is, there's no guitar shop in town - so it costs me the equivalent of a set of guitar strings to go to the nearest town that actually has a guitar shop. Then I usually buy four/five sets at a time, so buying the extra strings would be the equivalent of buying another extra set - and I'm on a very tight budget. Tighter than Mick Jagger's 70's stage pants, in fact.

As it happens, I'm fairly comfortable with 9's - my Tele's got a lovely low smooth action, smoother than melted chocolate flowing over warm glass, my Squier's set up for slide, and my acoustic's got a pretty low action too. It's been a LONG time since I tried 8's - and I always used to get an extra top E! - but I think they'd be a bit too thin for the fairly huge bends I use.

Matter of fact, does anyone know of a top guitarist who uses 8's? I can only think of a couple who use 9's - Jeff Beck (I think!) and Francis Rossi of Status Quo. And Rossi's partner in crime/ twin lead and rhythm guitarist uses 13's!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

I've heard that Billy Gibbons uses 8s, but I don't know if it's true.

As for lap slide, I have more trouble with median nerve numbness (I have some CTS) when I play that way than in Spanish position. (Or at least in the absolutely atrocious position I'm usually in playing with an upright guitar on my lap when I'm sitting.) Putting it up on a table in front of me instead of on my lap helps a lot.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@kent_eh)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1885
 

But wouldn't that involve buying a set of 8's then buying an extra 9 for the top E? One problem is, there's no guitar shop in town - so it costs me the equivalent of a set of guitar strings to go to the nearest town that actually has a guitar shop. Then I usually buy four/five sets at a time, so buying the extra strings would be the equivalent of buying another extra set - and I'm on a very tight budget. Tighter than Mick Jagger's 70's stage pants, in fact.

Vic

Or you could order up a custom set from somewhere online and get exactly the gauges you want...

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


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