Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
uptempo

Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by uptempo » Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:59 pm

I thought i would post again because of a diagnosis I have had.

So after seeing five therapists including a chiropractor and my doctor I have had a diagnosis of CTS in both hands. This will be confirmed by further studies but it is clear from my symptoms and the progression over the last few months that CTS is well established. I am out of action for what is likely to be a long time and naturally I am pretty depressed about everything right now.

My symptoms began innocently: a tiny bit of a weak feeling in the right hand m finger which I ignored. This progressed over the coming months to a kind of tingling in most of the hand and a painful sensitive nerve type sensation. I started using my computer with my left hand and within a week I was feeling the same in this hand too. My forearm muscles are mega tight; the shoulders are tight and I have spent a small fortune seeing specialists for massage and adjustments.

I am now stretching every day and doing something about my posture in an effort to rectify the issue but as yet there is no change. I have various stretches to perform and I have cleaned up my diet - all in an effort to get better. I actually fear that surgery will be the only option but perhaps I am just being too pessimistic. Oh, I am wearing splints at night too.

My message to others is not to ignore pain in the body no matter how insignificant it seems at the time.

Gary Macleod

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by Gary Macleod » Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:09 pm

I've been diagnosed with it too but I'm not totally sure if it's that or a trapped nerve in my neck. I wake up most nights with totally numb hands and have almost continuous tennis elbow in both arms. ! However, I can still play without any noticeable change, been like this for a few years and like you I've payed a fortune on Chiro and Physio . I'll be interested to hear if your change of diet helps ? Good luck

uptempo

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by uptempo » Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:21 pm

Hi Gary

I will let you know. I am having tests which will ultimately determine what is going on but I can't really play without pain. My GP has referred me straight away because he said that left unchecked it can really lead to problems.

As far as diet goes I have ditched pretty much all junk food and alcohol and eat lots of fruit veg and nuts. I also drink plenty of water so we will see.

Incidentally, my daughter is a physio and she was adamant that, regardless of whether or not the nerve is compressed in the carpal tunnel area, I should work hard on correcting my posture because bad posture will invariably contribute to the issue. She also said the same of core stability and explained about how a weak core can manifest into a variety of problems.

With regards to chiropractic. Over the years I have spent a fortune on chiropractic for various ailments and can't ever say they have really worked. I tend to find that physiotherapists are more likely to give you the tools to self manage and I am going to see a hand specialist physio next week prior to having some tests with a consultant.

Gary Macleod

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by Gary Macleod » Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:38 pm

Thanks for the info, yeah my problems come from poor posture due to having a guitar in my hands all day.
Must go back to Physio and work on the core exercises but giving up booze !! I admire your commitment.

kirkmc

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by kirkmc » Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:11 pm

I had carpal tunnel about ten years ago, not from guitar. It was some of the most excruciating pain I'd ever had. So I'd say listen to any pain that pops up and deal with it right away. I used braces at night, and a local cortisone cream, and the pain went away in a couple of months. But it's a good time to take a serious look at your position. It's not posture as such, but rather tension in the hands and arms.

FWIW, chiropractic won't do anything for it (and, frankly, it doesn't do much for anything else either). There's no shortcut to CT, other than to stop using the muscles. If it doesn't go away, there is surgery to cut through the tendons that press on the nerves. I hope you don't end up with that, because you'd have to stop playing for several months. (I know someone - not a musician - who had that.)

User avatar
Steve O
Posts: 243
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:01 pm
Location: Calgary, Canada

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by Steve O » Tue Aug 09, 2016 5:32 pm

I had/have carpal tunnel from typing on a computer. When it first developed 10-15 years ago I had numbness and tingling and pain in my fingers/wrists and my hands were very weak. I also developed tennis elbow.

These took years to subside but have never gone away. If I am inattentive to my typing technique, even for a short period of time such as one day of intense work on the computer, it can flare up for several weeks.

First figure out what is causing your problem - the guitar or the computer, both, or something else? Really watch out for any activity where your wrists are bent or your arms are raised (e.g. mouse hand is resting on a desk that is too high).

Second, avoid that activity and improve your technique. For me that involved retracting the legs on my keyboard (so the keyboard is flat rather than angled upwards), I raised my chair and lowered my keyboard, I improved my posture, I switched to an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, I take more frequent breaks - and most importantly I really watch my typing technique. A bent wrist for even 10-15 minutes will bring on a flare up. As soon as I notice a flare up I stop and pay attention.

When I started playing guitar 6 years ago I worried that it would cause the carpal tunnel to flare up. I experimented with the cowboy playing posture, with straps, classical position with a footstool, low chair position, etc.etc.etc. until I found a position that is comfortable, and which keeps my wrists in reasonably straight alignment.

It's a constant battle, but I've managed to keep my carpal tunnel at bay.

woodenhand
Posts: 266
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:05 am
Location: Japan

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by woodenhand » Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:54 am

Steve O wrote:I had/have carpal tunnel from typing on a computer. When it first developed 10-15 years ago I had numbness and tingling and pain in my fingers/wrists and my hands were very weak. I also developed tennis elbow.

These took years to subside but have never gone away. If I am inattentive to my typing technique, even for a short period of time such as one day of intense work on the computer, it can flare up for several weeks.

First figure out what is causing your problem - the guitar or the computer, both, or something else? Really watch out for any activity where your wrists are bent or your arms are raised (e.g. mouse hand is resting on a desk that is too high).

Second, avoid that activity and improve your technique. For me that involved retracting the legs on my keyboard (so the keyboard is flat rather than angled upwards), I raised my chair and lowered my keyboard, I improved my posture, I switched to an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, I take more frequent breaks - and most importantly I really watch my typing technique. A bent wrist for even 10-15 minutes will bring on a flare up. As soon as I notice a flare up I stop and pay attention.

When I started playing guitar 6 years ago I worried that it would cause the carpal tunnel to flare up. I experimented with the cowboy playing posture, with straps, classical position with a footstool, low chair position, etc.etc.etc. until I found a position that is comfortable, and which keeps my wrists in reasonably straight alignment.

It's a constant battle, but I've managed to keep my carpal tunnel at bay.
I do translation, and some days I have to type a lot on the computer. I know colleagues who have developed CTS and other disorders from typing, and these can ruin a person's career. I have found that I can substantially reduce the amount of typing I do by using auto-completion for frequently used words (especially long ones) and even phrases. Analyze the kinds of texts you type and note words and phrases that occur often, then add them to your word processor's auto-completion function.

kirkmc

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by kirkmc » Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:35 am

woodenhand wrote:
I do translation, and some days I have to type a lot on the computer. I know colleagues who have developed CTS and other disorders from typing, and these can ruin a person's career. I have found that I can substantially reduce the amount of typing I do by using auto-completion for frequently used words (especially long ones) and even phrases. Analyze the kinds of texts you type and note words and phrases that occur often, then add them to your word processor's auto-completion function.
I'm a writer and former translator. The best thing you could do is check out speech recognition software. Pretty much the only player is Nuance's Dragon, but it's really quite good. Even if you use something like Trados, you can use Dragon. Even if you only use it for half of what you type, that's a big saving of energy.

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 7417
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:14 am

Gary Macleod wrote:I've been diagnosed with it too but I'm not totally sure if it's that or a trapped nerve in my neck. I wake up most nights with totally numb hands and have almost continuous tennis elbow in both arms. ! However, I can still play without any noticeable change, been like this for a few years and like you I've payed a fortune on Chiro and Physio . I'll be interested to hear if your change of diet helps ? Good luck
I had the numbness in the hands too, lasted around 6 months. No idea how you can still play with those kind of symptoms.
Now I do back exercises everyday. Even though many of my symptoms related to the shoulders and upper back I think some of the cause was due to the lower back. I certainly feel a bit more upright when I'm sitting or when I'm moving around. Anyway, the exercises can't possibly do any harm providing they are done correctly and there's every chance that they'll do some good.
Historicalguitars.

Gary Macleod

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by Gary Macleod » Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:00 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Gary Macleod wrote:I've been diagnosed with it too but I'm not totally sure if it's that or a trapped nerve in my neck. I wake up most nights with totally numb hands and have almost continuous tennis elbow in both arms. ! However, I can still play without any noticeable change, been like this for a few years and like you I've payed a fortune on Chiro and Physio . I'll be interested to hear if your change of diet helps ? Good luck
I had the numbness in the hands too, lasted around 6 months. No idea how you can still play with those kind of symptoms.
Now I do back exercises everyday. Even though many of my symptoms related to the shoulders and upper back I think some of the cause was due to the lower back. I certainly feel a bit more upright when I'm sitting or when I'm moving around. Anyway, the exercises can't possibly do any harm providing they are done correctly and there's every chance that they'll do some good.
Hi Michael, my numbness only happens at night, touch wood it goes once I'm up and moving although I do suffer tennis elbow. What exercises are you doing for your shoulders?

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 7417
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Aug 13, 2016 8:15 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bu4EuPsrdvQ

Those for the lower back + an exercise for the stomach muscles. 'Wall angels' and the swimming strokes for the upper back.
Historicalguitars.

Gary Macleod

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by Gary Macleod » Sat Aug 13, 2016 8:22 pm

Thanks.

astro64
Posts: 1098
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:43 pm
Location: American Southwest

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by astro64 » Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:39 am

If your spine is involved in your wrist issues, which can be the case if it involves pinched nerves, it will come from the very upper spine near your neck. The nerves going down to the arms and hands start there, not in the middle or lower back. You may need "neck retraction" exercises, a competent PT should be able to teach you. Mine did, several years ago, no more issues.

goldenoldie
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2016 2:09 pm
Location: Boston area, Massachusetts

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by goldenoldie » Sun Aug 14, 2016 2:26 am

And since the neck is involved, please remember to keep good posture by making sure that the music stand and the score are set at the correct height to prevent bending the neck downwards to look. The angle of the guitar neck during playing may need some adjustment as well.
As I age (and I work at a computer) I find that I have to make a conscious effort to stay upright and keep a neutral spine as much as possible. Stretching and flexibility exercises for the whole body are very beneficial, if performed judiciously.

Roberto

Re: Carpal Tunnel diagnosis

Post by Roberto » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:45 am

Hi everyone. I am new and I was not sure what topic I should use to present myself. I decided this one about carpal tunnel because I had it on both armas six years ago and I went for surgery after expending many waisted of time sessions with chiropractors and using bracelets on my hands/arms. My right hand was diagnosed as severe CTS and left as moderated: pain and tingling was frquently and severe at night especially during winter time. Tingling at night did not let me sleep straight nor I let my wife doing it since has a lite sleep.I lost sesitivity on my fingers at the point I could puck a needle on the tip of my fingers and feel nothing. Then I developed right trigger thumb and tennis elbow on my left arm. I have played guitar since I was a boy (10) years old. I am 62 now and I have used my arms and hands for years especially doing repeatdly and hard work doing home repairs and mechanics on my cars. I am also a computer addict and love searching for new things everyday specially now that my retirement is getting close. Anyway , since I used computer at work 8 to ten hours a day then continue at home another couple more The surgeon decided beggining with my both wrists firts. Surgery went great and inmmediately I began feeling my fingers again. then the part I did not like was therapy. I was "ordered" by the surgeon to began my both moving my wrists up and down right after the second week of surgery. The purpose was not loosing the strenght. I felt the pain and ignored the doctor. then I had to pay the consequences because when I began using weights the pain was unbearable. Anyway, the the doctor removed some callous tissue on my right thumb that I got for using the brace and not moving my thumb at all and fixed it. After that he followed with my left elbow because at nights the pain was terrible. I stopped playing my guitar for years because everytime I tried I felt my wrist were weak an got tired easily. I almost quit for good; however one day I played a nice guitar that a young lady took to a luthier to make soft to play and I realized that it was exactly what I need it to play again. then I decided looking for the best guitar so I could play with. You guys would thing I am laying or bragging but the truth is that now I have accumulated 27 guitars now and I want more. And because I am a handy man and I like learning from anyone who can advice me on how to fix them. I bought them on yard sales, e - b a y, and craiglist if they are cheap and I if the apparience is horrible better. I love challenges and the result of my effort to fix them has giving me a lot of satisfaction. I joined this place because I want to learn from all of you. I am a behavior therapist and work with children with Autism. but as I said I love fixing things and now guitars are my pasion(classical guitars). Anyway what I can tell to anyone who has CTS; today my hands and muscles have healed completely and are strong and thanks to fixing my guitars and playing them I am getting better and better in my playing. I suggest to anyone who has carpal tunnel to go for surgery and do therapy right away. do not wait longer because your hands are going to become weaker and weaker. I hope I did not violate any regulation on my first presentation. By the way my name is Roberto and I am from Guadalajara Jalisco Mexico actually living in California last 30 years. Truly yours, Roberto

Return to “Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists”