A Guitarist's Carpal Tunnel Experience

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by jca345, Apr 27, 2015.

  1. jca345

    jca345 Member

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    Any advice on how to best deal with Carpal Tunnel besides surgery? I have been playing on/off for the past 25+ years and go through spurts where I am really inspired to play, but wind up extremely symptomatic after the first few days of playing. Numbness, pain, lack of limber feeling, hands falling asleep, etc. Sleeping positions are even compromised--the best one seems to be flat on my back--which I hate. I am sure some of you guys/gals know exactly what I am talking about.

    I have been slowly building up my pedalboard over the years and have been inspired to work out a few stomp box overdrive circuit ideas lately. And I find that I am definitely becoming an FX Junkie. But the hands are somewhat FUBAR'ed.

    [​IMG]

    Sorry if this one has been beat to death...

    JCA
     
  2. Noise Under The Floor

    Noise Under The Floor Supporting Member

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    Man, I feel for you. I'm in the same situation. One thing I've found that helps is sleeping with this type of brace on both hands/wrists:

    [​IMG]

    My CT is always at its worst in the mornings when I wake up. If I wear those braces it actually does help and I don't wake up with the burning and numbness in my hands. My hands and wrists are then in a less aggravated condition from the start of my day, which helps a lot. They also make some shorter ones that are more like gloves that I try to wear throughout my work day, but its hard. They're available at just about any pharmacy store.

    Short of surgery, which I just don't really feel like doing, the Dr told me "managing" it the best I could with the braces is about the only other option. I'm squeamish about the surgery after having both a friend and my father-in-law who got it. Some days it is hard for me to enjoy playing guitar though.
     
  3. DrumBob

    DrumBob Gold Supporting Member

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    Call a sports therapy place and inquire about cold laster treatments to relieve carpal. It worked for me, No surgery, no drugs. The surgery is not necessary in some cases, and I was determined not to get cut.
     
  4. 71strat

    71strat Member

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    Do what DrumBob says. Laser treatment may work But if not ???

    Id go ahead and get the surgery done if all else fails. Id give it 4-6 weeks of conservative treatment and if it isn't gone Id go to a Good Sports Oriented Surgeon.

    The longer you wait the more damage you will do to the nerve(s).

    It really doesn't hurt that much.

    Ive had both shins, right shoulder and Both Knees Operated on and the only 1 that Really Hurt was the shoulder. I slept in a recliner for a month.

    The others were Inconvenient. Of course they hurt a bit but I used 00000 pain meds on any of my surgeries. t really isn't that bad.
     
  5. winterblu

    winterblu Supporting Member

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    Handeze fingerless compression gloves can help when you play.
     
  6. tenchijin2

    tenchijin2 Member

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    [​IMG]

    What you want to discuss is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The carpal tunnel is something everyone with hands has.

    I'll let you all off with a warning this time.
     
  7. s2y

    s2y Member

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    Take a break and see a doc. Sticking to ergonomic and proper technique is a must for me. Some guys bash proper technique as prissy until it's too late.
     
  8. Yer Blues

    Yer Blues Member

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    My hands always feel better the less time I spend on a computer.... which can be hard these days.
     
  9. kjypeace

    kjypeace Supporting Member

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    I agree with the wrist braces and I also see a Chiro who will give me stim when I am really hurting. Making sure I do not sleep with my wrists bent also helps a lot.
     
  10. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

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    I think I have the same problem, does a pause from playing help?
     
  11. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    I didn't have carpal tunnel SYNDROME :p but suffered severly from tennis elbow. Switching my mouse to my left hand helped alot. The OP might benefit from lowered action and lighter gauge strings (as low as .008's)
     
  12. Yer Blues

    Yer Blues Member

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    Yeah... I switched the mouse to the left, too.
     
  13. MarylanderX

    MarylanderX Member

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    I had the release surgery on my right hand and it was awesome. My left was not in bad enough shape at the time to get it done too but it's getting there. I was just thinking last week that I ought to get it checked again. There are risks, of course, but I have nothing but good things to say about my surgery.
     
  14. HurricaneJesus

    HurricaneJesus Member

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    Check into 'active release technique'. Aside from sounding dirty it seemed to help me.
     
  15. guitararmy

    guitararmy Member

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    If you have true nerve compression, you may still need decompression surgery. I had both of my wrists operated upon endoscopically.
     
  16. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    I feel your pain. I thought I had CT for a while, I discovered that when I sleep, I curl my wrists/hands in.. like a fetus maybe. I used the braces shown above for a while, but eventually just forced myself to not curl my hands in... a lot of my problems went away with the wrists.
    I now have RA though and the elbows, wrists, hands and shoulders are shot after a 3 gig weekend. The other thing I've noticed is any time I damage a finger joint.. like a mildly jammed knuckle... it may never get back to normal at my age. Now I just try to play thru the problem, but my mind knows where the finger is supposed to go on fast licks, but sometimes the finger just wont go there... arghhhh
    There is a simple test you can do on yourself to determine if it Carpal Tunnel or something else... look it up.
     
  17. townsend

    townsend Member

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    Carpal tunnel syndrome involves median nerve compression, most often at the wrist. Anatomically, the median nerve provides sensory input to the thumb, index, middle, and (adjacent) "half" of the ring finger, so the numbness and tingling commonly is found in those digits. However, pain may be more widely distributed, and often the numbness and tingling as well.

    The wrist cockup splints that one poster slept in are very important. The point of these splints is that they prevent extreme wrist flexion, which aggravates the median nerve when it passes through the bony canal (bone on three sides, tissue on the top). A simple test for CTS is Phalen's test, whereby one flexes the wrist (e.g., to 90 degrees or slightly more), and after 30-60 seconds, you should have numbness and tingling in the distribution of the median nerve.

    What to do? I would first go see a orthopedist, a hand surgeon (but even a general orthopedist sees plenty of carpal tunnel cases). To see whether you have actual nerve damage, he may order EMG (= electromyelography) and NCV (= nerve conduction velocity) studies. Those studies are the only way to know whether you have actual nerve damage, and/or just bothersome symptoms.

    If you have failed conservative therapy (wrist cock-up splints + anti-inflammatores -- caveat, make sure you can take NSAIDs, b/c some may develop gastric ulcers), and you have studies that prove your nerve is beginning to be or has sustained damage, then you are a candidate for surgery.

    Of course, you talk this over with your surgeon. It is your decision, hopefully an informed decision, you make after consultation with the surgeon. As a physician assistant who worked for a hand surgeon for 2.5 years on the early 2000s, I assisted on dozens of these surgeries. We did them EVERY week. Way more than the vast majority of patients did great. However, there are always outliers, and this happens regardless of how skilled the surgeon is, both in the selection of patients (it is in his best interest to select patients who will do well) and the performance of the surgical procedure.

    To me, this is a simple day surgery procedure. It takes about 10-15 minutes once you are under anesthesia. It involves the release (cutting, if you will) of the transverse carpal ligament, which is found in the tissue above the canal. This decompresses the canal (being bony on three sides, it is the cutting of ligament on the "fourth" or top side that relieves the pressure).

    Yes, there can be other complicating conditions: ulnar nerve problems, commonly at elbow and providing sensation to the "other" half of the ring finger & the "pinkie"; cervical disc problems (nerve compression at level of cervical spine), etc., but these are far less common (though ulnar nerve problems aren't that rare). Your doctor needs to examine you, and sometimes order diagnostic studies, to sort this out.

    Again, I am just trying to provide some information so you (and others) can make an informed decision and better take care of themselves. Best wishes to you.
     
  18. ChampReverb

    ChampReverb Silver Supporting Member

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    I switched my mouse hand too.

    I had ulnar nerve entrapment in my picking elbow. It hurt and forced me to quit playing. Over 18 months I saw 10 doctors and they were all perplexed, I think mainly because I displayed zero CTS symptoms and nerve conduction tests were fine. One doctor wanted to transpose my ulnar nerve, but be was a surgeon so that's his worldview: cut.

    I saw a couple of acupuncturists too with little change.

    My mother taught me that chiropractors were all quacks (and I think some are) but eventually I went to see one who had helped a friend. Anyway this chiropractor was a phenomenal musculoskeletal diagnostician and within a few short minutes he traced my ulnar nerve problems to an area of tight forearm muscles. Then he showed me how to massage them out and stretch them to take the pressure off the ulnar nerve and he recommended I find someone who does deep tissue massage. That was 15 years ago and I've been back playing in bands ever since. I also wear a light flexible band below my elbow when I play.

    My only point in relating the above is to encourage those with similar problems to try to also have the problem looked at by medical practicioners who specialize in other disciplines (neuromuscular maybe?) because initial diagnoses and treatment recommendations may not always be accurate and/or helpful.

    Good luck,

    -bEn r.
     
  19. GMGM

    GMGM Member

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    I realize you said "besides surgery", but....

    Surgery is the best options. CTS just doesn't get better. Maybe for one person in a thousand. But for most of us, it only gets worse. So just get it fixed.

    Get it fixed while you're young enough to recover quickly. The downtime runs faster than you'd think. I was strumming an acoustic guitar while camping a few days later. And it gets progressively better each day after that.

    My 2 cents
     
  20. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

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    I have the carpal tunnel syndrome at both hands and after a visit the doctor prescribed me to take one tablet of Tiobec 800 for twenty days. I was at a point that I thought I would never been capable to play anymore but after just two weeks the numbness and the pain at this point are considerably less strong, and while I'm still far from being ok even now I'm beginning to play again.
    I thought that surgery would have been inevitable but I'm beginning to be much more optimistic than one month ago.
     

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