Diagnosing injury is hard.

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

Re: Diagnosing injury is hard.

Post by uptempo » Mon Oct 31, 2016 6:24 pm

Thanks - yes it is so frustrating because physically I am in pain and have ground to a halt. I spend about 10 minutes max on a computer each day and zero guitar. My guitars are back in the cases which is sad.

Maybe though I have simply got to rest and heal - and learn.

As an aside, I would like to mention that I have had some incredible input from Jack Sanders, who very kindly spent a lot of time on Skype with me. He identified some rather glaring flaws in my technique (including posture) and whilst I think it was too late to stop the pain cycle I am in I do have an awful lot of good knowledge for when I return.

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Re: Diagnosing injury is hard.

Post by Mr.Rain » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:10 am

I also suffer RSI, totally understand your frustration as they just push all the issues into the all in one condition and that is it(in my case is due to work,but guitar is just like pouring gas over the fire).

I only found a bit of help in 3 things:
- moving to a shorter scale (right now 630mm on a panormo)
-using the low string tension / low action
-altering my technique (flexing my wrist the minimum, soft touch and fretting almost over the fret)


Re: Diagnosing injury is hard.

Post by uptempo » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:32 pm

I am now not playing at all.

I went to yet another consultant who could not find anything wrong despite me presenting and articulating clearly signs of ulnar nerve compression.

My symptoms are classic. Pain in elbows and pain in fourth and fifth fingers (tingling and weakness etc). I can not even hold a book for long without pain and yet two sets of nerve studies on median and ulnar nerves come back as normal. MRI scan normal as well. Surgeons will not, it seems, operate unless nerve studies show abnormalities and yet this has been going on for 9 months. I have thrown over 3k with various professionals and money is now gone.

I am now sat at home totally baffled as to why I can not get a diagnosis. I don't sleep with bent arms and after numerous lessons from the brilliant Jack Sanders I am pretty sure my posture is good.

Now, I am an anxiety and panic attack sufferer and I have been told that these conditions can manifest in the hands. I can accept that but not in relation to very specific elbow and finger pain.

There is no end in sight and my two guitars are asleepbin cases.

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Re: Diagnosing injury is hard.

Post by robin loops » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:31 pm

I had a bad arm break that left me not able to play classical (for many years). At first I thought I would have to learn another instrument but I was able to continue guitar once it healed up (just not classical at first). I focused on other styles of music and learned to sing and play accompaniment (strumming chords) until I was able to do more.

I am sorry for your problem but just don't forget that there may be other outlets for your need for musical expression and be open to adapting and learning new things. You may find you were always meant to be a brilliant singer (or whatever) and just didn't know it. An injury doesn't have to be the end... It may just be a new beginning. One example of an injury leading to new horizons: Julio Iglesias was a footballer until an injury left him unable to play football (soccer) anymore.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.


Re: Diagnosing injury is hard.

Post by uptempo » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:43 pm

This is very true Robin, however, the injury I have is affecting normal everyday life such as holding things in general and so this is the critical concern for the future.

I am going to go back to the doctors and demand some further investigations. If my symptoms were diffuse RSI I coukd understand it but I am now fairly certain that it is classic ulnar nerve - for which there are very good surgical treatments.

I have done much research on this in relation to musicians and it is common. It just seems that surgeons are not that familiar with this injury as it pertains to instruments.

Even typing this response with one finger is very painful.

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Re: Diagnosing injury is hard.

Post by Scott Phillips » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:00 am

I was working on CTS. Every morning I would wake up with pins and needles in my hands. Then I had a sleep study done, and the tech told me that I do what most other people do while sleeping, and that is to make my hands into fists and turn my hands in at the wrists. The doctor gave me some braces to wear at night, and problem solved. I still get it sometimes but only rarely.

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Re: Diagnosing injury is hard.

Post by lagartija » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:47 pm

Uptempo, I am so sorry that you are still in pain. :-(

As someone who has experienced more than my fair share of surgery, I would caution you on insisting that surgery will solve your problem. The trauma of surgery may increase inflammation and scar tissue and not give you the relief you seek. Surgery is a last resort.
You may say you are more than ready for that last resort, but although you mention several times that you are a tense and anxious person, and have had panic attacks, you have not mentioned if you have attempted to address those issues. The dysfunctional tension you habitually hold in your body may at the very least exacerbate your condition if not actually being the cause of it. There are at least two techniques I can think of that might be of some help in building awareness of tension being held dysfunctionally; bio feedback and yoga, especially yoga nidra which is a relaxation technique that does not involve cranking or stretching your body into strange postures.

Bio feedback is a technique taught at some mental health centers where you learn how to control response of you autonomous system. I learned it to overcome Reynaud's phenomenon in my fingertips and bring circulation back to them. It is also used to reduce high blood pressure or for migraines or other conditions. It usually takes three or four sessions to get the hang of it.

Yoga nidra is a technique where in a comfortable position, you are guided into an aware and relaxed state. I have a CD recording of my yoga teacher's yoga nidra session (which she does as part of The Veteran's Project to help those suffering from PTS), and would be happy to send it to you. Just send me a PM.
If nothing else, either of these techniques will give you something positive to do about your discomfort and neither are likely to hurt you in any way.
When the sun shines, bask.
Classical Guitar forever!

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Re: Diagnosing injury is hard.

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:56 pm

These things can take a long time to heal. Last year I experienced numbness in the hands. I stopped playing immediately but it still took almost 8 months before I saw improvement. Even when I did start playing again it was for just 5 minutes in any one session.
I'd stay with it and heed Lagartija's advice. It can't possibly do any harm and it is a more positive approach to things.


Re: Diagnosing injury is hard.

Post by uptempo » Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:35 pm

Thanks for the positive input.

In regards to anxiety and panic it was pointed out to me that hand symptoms are common with both these issues. I am indeed a tense person and have been having a lot of help with CBT. That said, I feel that there is also an injury aspect so perhaps this is why it might be complicated.

Regarding sleep. I am now sleeping with splints and have in fact trained myself to sleep with only a bit of elbow flexion because like many people I used to fold my arms up which did on occasions lead to numb fingers. It is perhaps too soon to tell if this is working.

I haven't tried biofeedback and I will look into it but I do meditate daily. Likewise Yoga.

Tension is a constant battle with me and I do feel that this is the main culprit. General Anxiety Disorder certainly does affect the body and I have learned that its symptoms are far and wide reaching. What is known is that if you overcome one symptom it can shift to somewhere else. At one stage my panic attacks were flooding my arms with a kind of freezing feeling but I kind of got over that.

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