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Alembic Club » Miscellaneous » Archive: 2007 » Archive through December 12, 2007 » Carpal Tunnel Syndrome « Previous Next »

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Username: navbass

Post Number: 10
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 5:25 am:   Edit Post

I've been dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome in my right wrist for the last year. It's gotten to the point where the docs think it's time for surgery. The pain and numbness are getting bad enough that I think I'm going to have to get it done, but I'm nervous about how long it's going to take me to get back on my ax again. The docs say at least a month but they don't know for sure because they haven't had to deal with too many musicians. I'm relatively young, 28, so I should heal up fairly fast.

I'm a full-time musician (U.S. Navy Music Program) so in addition to the physical part of it I'm worried about how all this will effect my career. If it takes years to get back playing like I am now, that's really bad news for me.

Anyway, if anyone has dealt with CTS surgery and has advice or knows any good sources of information about CTS surgery specific to bass players I would really appreciate the help.

Advanced Member
Username: grateful

Post Number: 237
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 6:35 am:   Edit Post

I was suffering from CTS until I bought a powerball which has really cured it. I'd try one before opting for surgery. They really help with tendonitis as well (no I don't have shares!), but it's honestly helped me with both these problems.

Advanced Member
Username: hb3

Post Number: 255
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 9:37 am:   Edit Post

Chiropractic, too.
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 1788
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 10:56 am:   Edit Post

I've had one of those powerball things for years for forearm and wrist strength so I could throw a baseball harder. Not sure if/how they would help with CTS, but I won't doubt you if you say it does.

I had some CTS several years ago when I was over-indulging in computer mouse use. It really screwed up my dart and pistol shooting, but didn't do much to my bass playing.

The first thing is to look at your habits and see what the likely causes of the CTS are. If it's a computer mouse, try switching hands for a while or mess with your ergonomics. You can also wear a wrist support to keep it straighter and warmer. Those are the things that helped me get straightened out back in the day. I made these changes a week into it and had it resolved in 2-3. After a year of pain, it may be too late to fix it with changes in habits.

If you haven't already, I would try a spandex or neoprene wrist sleeve and see if it gives you any relief.
Username: danny_bryant

Post Number: 2
Registered: 9-2007
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 1:32 pm:   Edit Post

Carpal Tunnel is hard on the hands. My father had the surgery a couple of years ago and his hands have never fully recovered. I would consider all other options first.
Senior Member
Username: alembic76407

Post Number: 536
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 1:57 pm:   Edit Post

I went and got a powerball ticket, but hows that going to help my carpool tunnel syndrome
Advanced Member
Username: cozmik_cowboy

Post Number: 201
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 3:31 pm:   Edit Post

Well, Richard, I don't know how much my experience will translate to your situation, but for what it's worth - in '96 (when I was 12 years older than you are now, and no longer a notably fast healer) I had carpal tunnel release surgery on my right hand. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a pro player, and most of what I do is finger-style accoustic guitar, but IIRC I was playing again within a month or two with no noticable decline in my chops - though it took a couple of years to get my full grip strength back. Where the descrepancy between us lies is that my chops were excreble to start with, and there is a difference between playing a big string of .047 and a little string of .045, so my experience might not translate directly to yours. While I can understand your trepidation, I must say I've never regretted it - pre-surgery I was spending most of my time holding my right arm against my body and damn near crying from pain; post-surgery I had a month of being whacked out of my gourd on Vicodin, and then no more pain or numbness at all, ever. However you decide, good luck, and keep us posted.

Senior Member
Username: dannobasso

Post Number: 639
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 7:23 pm:   Edit Post

I have had great success with accupuncture. It helped with my acute sesimoiditsis, heel spur, tennis elbow, strained acl and lower back pain (L1 and L5 disc degeneration). My Sifu is a licensed therapist in TCM and accupuncture. I'm a firm believer in the practice.
Senior Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 571
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 7:31 pm:   Edit Post

Oddly enough ...

I had a Cortizone injection today in my right arm. I've had problems with it for the last 4 months ...was undergoing occupational therapy (ultra sound) and God only knows what else. Apparently, I have both golfer's and tennis elbow (I don't play either, BTW). Not sure how it happened, but it was killing me. As of now, my arm feels 100% better. The shots sucked (think someone putting a needle in your arm and moving it around while injecting the solution, and scraping bone - it really hurt), but I hope it will fix things.

I don't know if this kind of thing cures carpal tunnel, but it might be worth asking your doctor.

BTW, I'm military (Army), so you should be able to get a Navy doctor to look at this kind of treatment if it in fact an option.

My two cents,

Username: navbass

Post Number: 11
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Thursday, September 20, 2007 - 7:24 am:   Edit Post

Thanks everyone for the great info!

Peter- I know what you mean, I think right now I'm at the point you were at pre-surgery, my right hand is almost worthless right now.

Alan- I've actually had two cortizone shots already, they worked great but only short term, 2-3 weeks (yeah, it hurts like hell when you get them). They told me the fact that my wrist responded well to the shots, even for only a short time, means that I'm a good candidate for surgery.

I have an appointment with the orthopedics people next week, I'll post more when I find out their recommendations.

Thanks again to everyone!

Username: davehouck

Post Number: 5522
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2007 - 7:12 pm:   Edit Post

Just curious; do you know what the cause is?
Username: navbass

Post Number: 15
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2007 - 7:47 pm:   Edit Post

It's actually the bass playing.

A combination of my hand being bent over the strings while I play compressing the nerve, over-musculature in my hand from playing so much which also compresses the nerve, and just being unlucky enough to have a particularly narrow carpal tunnel.

I saw the surgeon, he is really confident that the surgery will take care of it and not effect my chops. They expect me to be back on my bass in less than two months. Looking at having the surgery done in late October, when my schedule slows down a little.

After that I'm going to have to work on playing with a lighter touch, and not so much gigging and practicing outside of the navy band schedule.

That might allow me to actually have a social life, which would be nice for a change :-)
Intermediate Member
Username: trekster

Post Number: 148
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 5:07 am:   Edit Post

I have to chime in here..I had two surgeries that basically cured the CTS -- I had the release done on both hands, 8 weeks apart in 2001. That basically cured it, but it started creeping back in 2005. That was the final nail in the coffin, realizing that not only was the repetitive motions doing it, but the weight -- my weight had ballooned up to 368 on a 5ft 6in frame. So, I had gastric bypass done. Now, with the weight under control (down to near 200 -- have that final 30 that EVERYONE has problems losing, bypass or no) and the release well healed, I have had no more problems at all.

Username: navbass

Post Number: 20
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2007 - 9:36 am:   Edit Post

Here is a recording with my new series I:

You should have heard me when I could feel my fingers!

Anyway, looks like I go under the knife Oct 15th.
Senior Member
Username: bracheen

Post Number: 1273
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2007 - 10:03 am:   Edit Post

All the best to you, Richard. Here's to a successful operation and quick recovery.

Username: anarchyx

Post Number: 16
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 11:12 am:   Edit Post

yeah good luck dude!
Username: navbass

Post Number: 21
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 6:54 am:   Edit Post

I ended up having the surgery on November 1st, so I'm less than two weeks out now. I'd never had a surgery before or been put under general anesthetic before, so I was really nervous, but it turned out not to be the terrifying experience I thought it would be.

It's pretty amazing, the numbness I was having is completely gone, I'm in a lot less pain than I was before the surgery, even with the incision pain. I'm only taking Tylenol for the pain right now, I was on Percocet the first week.

The doc is going to let me start some light playing next week, I feel like I could actually play OK right now (it's taking a lot of self-control to not pick up the bass right now).

I can tell my grip is pretty weak, but as long as I can play I'm not too worried about it, somebody else can carry the heavy gear for a while.
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 5662
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 7:11 am:   Edit Post

Sounds like good news. When you start playing again, look at the position your hand is in. You may want to try a more ergonomically correct right hand position. You may have to relearn your right hand technique, but it could be well worth it.

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