Serious problems with my hand.....ideas?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by MBreinin, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. MBreinin

    MBreinin Supporting Member

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    Lately I have been experiencing weakness in my left hand. It comes and goes, but right now I am in a bad swing. If I turn my hand at a serious angle, like to play a bar chord or to bend, all of the strength drains from my hand. I can't apply enough pressure with my barring finger to play a bar chord. Also, I am having serious problem bending strings, especially high on the neck. Up above the 12th fret I can't bend up a whole step.

    This is really distressing. I have been playing for over 20 years and I can't even bend a set of 9's a whole step.

    I think I have some kind of nerve damage. I use a computer all day for work and for the last year or so I have been experiencing numbness in my hands while sleeping.

    Has anyone experienced anything like this? Any suggestions?

    Mike
     
  2. bobbypols

    bobbypols Member

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    sounds like carpel tunnel syndrome. Go to a dr. and he will see to it. Two reasons why i think that is because of the numbness while sleeping and TCS is common in professions with heavy computer use.


    It wont go away unless you go the dr. and he prescribes the right treatment.
     
  3. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    :agreePretty good description of carpal tunnel syndrome.
    Get it fixed surgically sooner rather than later, as permanent nerve damage can result if you let it go on to long.
     
  4. MBreinin

    MBreinin Supporting Member

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    Is surgery the only way to repair CTS?

    I have to tell you, I am not a big fan of surgery.

    Mike
     
  5. frankencat

    frankencat Guitarded Gold Supporting Member

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    I had the surgery on my right hand about 7 years ago. It works but I am not doing the left hand unless I have to. It will change the way things feel and it will take some time to adjust.
     
  6. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Here's a bunch of stuff to read.

    http://www.orthopaedic.com/pewrist.htm

    I notice my left and gets real fatigued if I do a lot of very fast legato stuff over and over. Not normal kind of fatigue, but a little pain and I can't hardly move the fingers for a few minutes. My hands feel strong usually. But I wear wrist braces often and always ice after playing a lot. I've had bouts of tendonitis, and think I have a cist on the top of my left hand wrist. I wonder if that's part of the fatigue thing.

    Also I try to get out of tedious work like painting the fence! My wife gets pissed but I tell here I'm trying to preserve my hands. let the fence age naturally!
     
  7. fiddler

    fiddler Guest

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    The guitar player in my band had similar issues.....He had to wear a brace on his left hand for a couple of months and NO guitar playing.....after 2 or 3 months I believe, he was back on the guitar....all good far as I know (been about a year and half since he was given the green light to play)

    Point is, no surgery was required...
     
  8. mike walker

    mike walker Member

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    Be extremely careful with this stuff. Go see someone who deals in this stuff on a regular basis. It'll be worth it. Playing when the hand is going numb is not good until you have seen someone that can properly diagnose it. Put your guitars out of site. Get into reading harmony or head practice as a substitute. Visualize your fretboard and practice scales and arps etc. Don't play thru pain. I can give you some exercises when and if you need them. Good luck.

    http://www.mike-walker.co.uk/audio/madhouse/MikeWalker-DadLogic.mp3
     
  9. funkycam

    funkycam Member

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    def look into physical therapy.
    I have a shoulder issue that I am getting really good results from something called graston technique.
    do some research into soft tissue therapies & best of luck
     
  10. MBreinin

    MBreinin Supporting Member

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    Yeah, that link pretty much sums it up. I have been sleeping with a wrist brace at night. I may have to wear it all day. I also exhibit some of these symptoms in my right hand as well, although it is much better than the left. I know this is from years and years of computer use. It is also being exacerbated by riding motorcycles, which I have been doing alot of lately. A friend gave me a good specialist's name and I am going to go see him.

    Thanks,

    Mike
     
  11. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    ^^
    Vibration often triggers CTS. I used to get numb hands on my Ducati 916 , though I don't have compressive CTS.
    Fluid retenetion also triggers it, so it often comes on in pregnancy.
     
  12. sinner

    sinner Member

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    Look into therapy first, perhaps acupuncture treatments might help, doesn't hurt and not too expensive (like surgery would be).
     
  13. GuitarBrent

    GuitarBrent Member

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    If you're not using an ergonomic keyboard, get one ASAP. Buy an over the counter wrist brace too to wear at night. See if this helps and still go see a doctor for an official diagnosis. The symptoms you describe could be CTS, but could also indicate other problems not in the wrist.
     
  14. snacker

    snacker Member

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    i went through a time when i was wearing braces on both wrists ALL the time - for gigs, i'd pull the metal bars out of the sides of the braces so i could get a bit of movement - it's fine now as long as i take care of it - i went to a good massage therapist who is also a musician and specializes in musician injuries - glucosamine also helped - now, i stretch alot, go for massage once a month and do a weekly pilates class for upkeep and all of the problems are gone and stay gone - don't do the surgury unless it's a last resort - get it fixed with therapy and learn how to avoid more problems in the future - good luck - hope it feels better soon
     
  15. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    If you go to a surgeon you will likely get surgery (duh)- that is what they are trained to do. A good up-to-date modern chiropractor can work wonders, as can a really good massage therapist or physical therapist. I would do the orthopedist/surgeon as a last resort (speaking from some experience with both). The way a lot of health insurance has gone, a surgeon may also cost a LOT of non-covered $$ too, along with the risks of anesthesia & hospital infections.
     
  16. slackandsteel

    slackandsteel Member

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    ALWAYS get a second opinion (or more).

    And seek out the best for advice. I went to the hand clinic at Stanford University after seeing a few other doctors. My situation was a little different (chronic pain and swelling in the right wrist). His advice was "If the activity causes pain, don't do it...and if a doctor wants to start cutting on you, get a second opinion".
     
  17. Sub City

    Sub City Supporting Member

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    I spent over $10k out-of-pocket, 2 trips to NYC(from Florida) and saw over 20 different practicioners for my hand problems; the loss of strength & numbness indicates nerve compression. You must have it accurately diagnosed by a hand specialist. CTS is the usual culprit/median nerve compression. But other conditions may be present: cubital tunnel, TOS, RSD, etc. Physical therapy can correct most of these problems.

    You also must change the way you're playing. Barring chords with a bent wrist is asking for trouble. You need to keep your wrist in a neutral/straight position when playing any instrument, with minimal ulnar/radial deviation.
     
  18. MBreinin

    MBreinin Supporting Member

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    Again, thanks for all of the help guys! I am going to look into every possibility.

    Mike
     
  19. townsend

    townsend Member

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    A lot of sound advice in this thread; let me add my two bits.

    I've covered it several times before. The following paragraph was "lifted" from an earlier post:

    1) Carpal tunnel syndrome (hereafter CTS): involves compression of median nerve by the transverse carpal ligament across the wrist. It affects the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and the half of the ring finger adjacent to the middle finger.

    2) Cubital tunnel syndrome: involves compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow ("the funny bone" nerve). It affects the small (or "little" finger) and the half of the ring finger adjacent to the small finger.

    To sum up, the particular pattern of numbness in the fingers is usually diagnostic of the syndrome.

    As mentioned by others, CTS is often worse at night. But so is cubital tunnel syndrome.

    Though I've been "corrected," I recommend you first see a orthopedist specializing in "upper extremity"--shoulder, arm, and hand. Yes, he is a surgeon, but no competent surgeon will recommend surgery as the first line treatment. I'm not going to repeat that.

    If it is CTS, there are three lines of treatment. You start with the least invasive treatment and accelerate if no response.
    1) Splints and oral meds (I've covered this in detail; please do search by topic or my posting history);
    2) steroid injection (into wrist)
    3) surgery: carpal tunnel release--decompresses median nerve by cutting the transverse carpal ligament at the wrist. (I've assisted in approximately 100 surgeries of this kind.)

    Before surgery is contemplated, an EMG (electromyelography)/NCV (nerve conduction velocity) study is absolutely mandatory. This is to determine whether the nerve is merely irritated (not so bad) or is being damaged (not good).

    You didn't mention if or which fingers were numb, but the symptom that most concerns me (sorry, but I can't examine you through cyperspace) is the weakness. Please, definitely see a medical professional for a thorough evaluation. (In case you are wondering, there is a motor branch to the median nerve that enables "opposition"--thumb and tip of index finger pushing firmly against one another).

    I hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2008
  20. forestryguy

    forestryguy Member

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    The weakness is similar to a problem I had with my left arm several years ago. I had carpal tunnel, but nerve conductivity test demonstrated an entrapment of the medial nerve somewhere in the region of the inside of the elbow. There was no signal travelling through the nerve at all and the nerve tissue was dying. It made me sick all over and manifested with chest pain of all things. Surgery fixed it up, not a pleasant (or inexpensive) option but necessary in my case. I wouldn't mess around if I were you.
     

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