CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
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tateharmann
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CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by tateharmann » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:10 pm

Hi All,
I realize that my answer might be an obvious, "Depends on the person and injury and factor after factor...etc". I'm mostly writing this for the therapy that comes from hearing other's experiences with injuries.

I haven't played guitar since last April. My injury occurred more or less in March. It wasn't a sudden snap or anything like that...it was gradual pressure/pain in my left wrist (I'm a right-handed player)...until one night, I decided to play ONE more little Sor study before flying out the door to meet friends for dinner when...HOT pain warmed my left wrist/forearm. I was already playing a lot and should have been resting. Anyway, the damage was already done - I woke up and it HURT. I didn't play much after that. Since April I've only picked up a guitar 2 or 3 times to rasgueado an E chord and put it back down haha.

I've used wrist braces while sleeping. I used a thumb brace while working (I work in IT so I type a lot). I saw a hand specialist. He at first thought it was CTS. Then when it didn't resolve in a couple of months without playing, he thought it was tendinitis in the tendons/sheath going to my thumb. In August he gave me a cortisone shot. Now, 7 months later, it certainly feels better than last April...but it still hurts. Sometimes while doing something simple like buttoning my pants I get a twinge of pain and it makes my heart sink to think that it's still not healing.

I've read about some of these injuries and a year's worth of time seems to be a common figure in them (Mr. Delcamp's for example). I guess my goal right now is to wait another 5 months and let the year finish out and see where I am. If it's still no good maybe I would investigate surgery options.

After it resolves I will stretch before playing and stop at the first sign of pain. I also ruined my wrist on a 54mm nut width-high action-650mm scale length instrument. Since, I've had a luthier build me a comfortable 640mm scale length-51mm nut width-lower action guitar. I hope that helps too.

My question is - for anyone with these types of serious tendinitis/tenosynovitis injuries: how long did it take to resolve? Was some kind of surgery needed in the end?

Thanks for the feedback!
Tate
"Speed is the enemy of emotion." - Emilio Pujol Vilarrubi

gtrfinger
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Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by gtrfinger » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:17 am

It's like a bereavement.

I have a trapped nerve. Physiotherapy is a wonderful branch of medicine but progress is so slow. It feels like 10 steps forward so one feels hurray I'm better....then the smallest thing can knock one back 9 steps. So depressing.

this has been going on 7 months now. if its not clear in 2 months I'm certainly considering surgery.

There's a return to playing schedule I found which may help, http://orthodoc.aaos.org/davidsweiss/library.cfm, though I'm convinced now one shouldn't begin the schedule until totally free from pain.
google Mike Fowler guitar

KevinCooper

Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by KevinCooper » Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:53 am

I can understand the frustration of an injury of this sort, although I've not experienced the kind you are describing.

Often from using the computer all day at work, as well as writing, then sometimes coming home to spend a bit of time on the computer can cause my hands to tighten, or the joints to get a little stiff. I find the best thing to do to alleviate these symptoms and avoid further injury is to just get away from the desk, go for a 15 minute walk during lunch, and any sort of exercise to get blood flowing really.

In addition to this, getting some good deep breaths also helps, I'm sure a lot of us here sit at our desks all day taking shallow breaths of recirculated office air and it's not doing us any good.

Cheers,

Kevin

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tateharmann
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Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by tateharmann » Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:08 pm

Thanks for the feedback guys!

gtrfinger - where is your trapped nerve? You've been experiencing issues for about as long as I :( Sorry :(

Kevin - That's good advice...doing it now is kind of like too little too late though - I wish I would have started 4 years ago hahaha..

I definitely can see a correlation between stress and these types of injuries too - the deep breaths probably help to alleviate that.

Thanks!
"Speed is the enemy of emotion." - Emilio Pujol Vilarrubi

gtrfinger
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Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by gtrfinger » Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:50 am

Trapped nerve - radial nerve, though where its trapped or what caused it, god only knows. I've had misdiagnosis again and again.

Probably in the neck.

If you look me up you'll see I've posted several times on the subject. I've now packed in completely.

its less depressing than starting to play, and thinkin its going ok then suffering pain for days, having to stop for a week or two, and then repeating it all again a month later. I'd rather do without the pain.

My advice, just stop. Give your body time to heal. Do something else. Read, compose, learn.

It'll come right in the end.
google Mike Fowler guitar

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tateharmann
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Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by tateharmann » Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:12 pm

Yea I definitely have. I haven't played since April..

The problem is...other things (like typing at work) aggravate it. So it's just like you said - make some progress...but then come crashing down because I button my pants wrong and start all over.

I composed some music on the piano in the interim haha.

:)

I'll look up your other posts. Good health to you!
"Speed is the enemy of emotion." - Emilio Pujol Vilarrubi

Julio_E
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Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by Julio_E » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:56 pm

Hi Tate,

I'm sorry to hear about your injury. I'm a new member and only picked up trying to learn CG about two months ago. But I've stopped playing for now due to a left hand wrist injury from overdoing, imperfect technique and whatever else. My injury did seem to come about suddenly on Thanksgiving when I chose to play the little I know in front of some family members. I know I was quite nervous and all technique and relaxation must have gone out the window. So for now I've been resting and also wearing a splint (after seeing a sports med doc). His assistant did some physical wrist tests and seemed to think rest and ice and anti-inflammatories should take care of it. I believe he did mention tendinitis. In retrospect, I was not ready for prime time that Thanksgiving and I'm guessing my overpracticing in the previous weeks contributed. Hopefully when I'm back on my feet, I can more slowly build up to longer practice times along with better technique, etc.

This site has been very informative in all things CG so one post I'd like to share with you is this, if you haven't already seen it:

Tendenitis/Ligamentitis Anyone?

I have been doing this more and more and it seems to help along with my gym visits where I do some light swim type exercises and some hot whirlpool/sauna/steamroom visits too. It seems my wrist feels it's most flexible after those gym visits which has made encouraged me to do the cold/hot method described in the link. For me, it seems to help but of course YMMV.

From all I've been reading here and elsewhere, I've resolved my recovery will take as long as it takes and so I'll be as patient as I need to be. 7 months is a long time and I hope your recovery improves. I'm getting close to a month of rest now. Typing at my job (and everywhere else) also aggravates my injury, so I try to keep it to a minimum which is very hard. I also think your smaller scale choice will help in the long run too. I am also looking to do that as well. Best of luck in your recovery.

Julio
Alhambra 5P 610mm

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tateharmann
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Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by tateharmann » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:36 pm

Thanks Julio!

I will check that out. Sorry for your thanksgiving mishap! :(

I'm resolved to rest as long as it takes too. The only other CG tendinitis I got was when I was much younger...and it cleared in about 1 week :)

Even if it takes a year...that's a small period of time in the proper perspective. I hope this is just a blip in my CG history.

Good health to you!
"Speed is the enemy of emotion." - Emilio Pujol Vilarrubi

Julio_E
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Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by Julio_E » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:05 pm

Thanks also Tate.

I think putting things in perspective is healthiest for all of us along with doing all we can for our recoveries. I can also use this "down" time to try to learn related CG/music things I would have wanted to learn anyways. This site is providing seemingly endless CG information and new discoveries.

Regarding typing and trying to minimize that aggravation, one thing I've also done lately (today) is to start using a lighter touch keyboard for my work. I'm finding that using a 'chiclet' key style keyboard seems easier on my left hand/wrist because it seems there's less pressure needed per keystroke. Outside of work, where I mostly use my iPad, that lighter keyboard is all I've been using (when I don't use the on-screen one). For my work, I'd been only using my loud standard keyboard which requires a heavier press from my fingers and last night, my left wrist was sore from all the work typing I've done lately. So yesterday I did the cold/heat thing and today, for my work, I've been using my lighter keyboard. And so far at the end of this workday, it seems my wrist is no where as sore as it was yesterday, even though I typed quite a bit today too. It's possible there may be even more ergonomic or lighter keyboards but for now, since I already owned this bluetooth chiclet style keyboard, this seems like a step in the right direction.

Good Health to you too!
Alhambra 5P 610mm

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tateharmann
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Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by tateharmann » Mon Dec 16, 2013 3:02 pm

Thanks Julio,
I had switched to an "ergonomic" keyboard when this started happening last spring. It isn't a light touch one though...that's a good idea.

I also use a thumb brace (my injury is on the thumb side of the wrist...I think it's called de Quervain's or something) while typing or doing other tasks.

When I look back and compare, it's way better now than last April..so that's good. It's just kind of disheartening to know I have longer to wait.

It's worth it though! Thanks for sharing your pain story with me hahaha...that DOES help.
"Speed is the enemy of emotion." - Emilio Pujol Vilarrubi

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tateharmann
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Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by tateharmann » Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:38 pm

I wanted to update this in case it could be of benefit to anyone. My issue is 95% resolved. It turns out that it's not tendinitis - it's actually carpal tunnel syndrome. That was, in fact, the first diagnosis of the hand doctor I went to, but he wasn't sure. And what fixed it for me was not another visit to the doctor, or a cortisone shot, or sleeping with a brace, or icing haha...it was STRETCHING. I would never believe it if it didn't happen to me personally. I re-discovered a stretch that I used to do when I was younger (why I did it then I don't know) and starting doing it on a regular basis. And I found that when I did the stretch right, for about 15 seconds right after, my pain was completely gone! It would then slowly come back. But for about a month now I have been doing this stretch and a couple of other ones on a regular basis. Right in the morning, before going to bed and before/after doing anything that might hurt (like playing guitar.) I now have zero pain while playing guitar - and throughout the day only small twinges of pain doing certain wrist intensive activities. If it gets worse I would consider surgery - but right now it's better than it has been in over a year! It's hard to explain the stretch but I think this guy does a pretty good job: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-hI-Nnv5cA

I hope this can help someone else too :-)
"Speed is the enemy of emotion." - Emilio Pujol Vilarrubi

Marc Pilon

Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by Marc Pilon » Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:54 pm

Tateharmann,

I'm happy to find out that your problem is just about resolved.

I have a different problem: when I play for an hour or so, my back starts to hurt. Specifically, the muscles along the spine in the middle of the back, especially on the right side. The pain is not chronic and if I stop playing it will go away, but it still bums me out and takes a lot of fun out of playing. I used to just sit, play, become one with the music and drift off. The back pain doesn't allow me to play this way any longer.

I think it's just the wear and tear accrued over time (I am quickly approaching age 60). I stretch and take breaks, but I'm still limited.

Oh well...

Marc

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tateharmann
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Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by tateharmann » Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:13 am

Hey Marc,
Do you use a foot stool or some kind of support??

A foot stool will sometimes mess my back up...worth a shot I guess. ..

Hope it gets better!!
"Speed is the enemy of emotion." - Emilio Pujol Vilarrubi

Neil Roberts

Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by Neil Roberts » Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:13 am

Hi Tate

I hear you! I thought I had tendonitis 6 months ago and had various tests, but was lucky that there was no permanent damage. The thought of not being able to play was horrendous and I was unable to play for 6 months. Playing in front of a mirror now I can see the problem - my wrist is bent when I play. I'd been doing a lot of flamenco around a b flat chord, which had involved a bit of a bent wrist. Lesson learned, and I'm trying to play with a straighter wrist. I did need reassurance that there was light at the end of the tunnel though, and hope that you can get back to it.

kat

Re: CG Related Injuries - How long to resolve?

Post by kat » Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:39 pm

I hurt my right hand shortly after starting to play classical guitar. I had been playing electric guitar for years so was trying to play at my left hand's level and my right hand just couldn't keep up. At the time I resorted to extreme use of painkillers so I could keep going instead of taking time off. After university I stopped playing guitar for 4 years, mostly due to burnout and being interested in other things. When I picked it back up the pain came right back. Then a flamenco guitarist in town started to teach yoga and ran a yoga classes for musicians. That was the best thing I ever tried. Stretching my shoulders really helped alleviate problems in my wrist. I learned a whole set of stretches that work from the fingertips right up to my neck and back down my back and hips. It undoes everything that my practicing does.
So really time did nothing to resolve it, even with 4 years completely off. Yoga fixed it though. I teach for about 6 hours each day and practice for another 4, so I play a lot with no problems at all now.

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