Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Post by Anonymous » Sun Jan 21, 2007 3:48 am

Has anybody else suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome? I'm convinced it was my guitar-playing that brought it on. The horrible stretches from fingering complex chords had to have some impact on the pain.

What a shame it is that playing classical guitar for more than ten minutes brings on pain...

I'm going to get surgery for this soon.

Leonie Kaye

Post by Leonie Kaye » Sun Jan 21, 2007 5:34 am

Hello Drew

My sister has had both her wrists operated on for carpel tunnel and as long as you ''do what the doctor tells you '' :roll: it is very successful and no more PAIN
Happy Playing.


Post by amassa » Sun Jan 21, 2007 5:45 am

I don’t know about C.T.S., but I know that if I try to play complex pieces without being properly warmed up (especially when sight reading, since tension seems to be an issue then) I will get a lot of pain in my hand muscles that will last for a few days. I'm experiencing that right now on my left hand wrist. I had a flutist friend visiting over the weekend and we sight read through several pieces on one day.
I used to have similar problems with the right hand (I played the Segovia position for quite a while) until a teacher changed my right hand position completely. It took me a while to get used to it, but it seems to have worked. Maybe experiencing with different hand positions would help you.
There is a book that discusses in good detail the workings of the muscles when playing guitar - Mastering Guitar Technique, by Christopher Berg.
I think CTS is very common among musicians in general. A friend violinist had to stop playing for a whole year and went into physiotherapy to be able to play again. He is now into a regular exercise schedule and restricted the amount of time he spends at the computer.
Good luck with your surgery!!! I'm sure you'll be up and running (playing) in no time. :wink:

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Post by Vesuvio » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:07 am

Hello Drew,

I am sorry to read about your carpal tunnel syndrome. I hope that your operation makes it possible for you to play freely and without discomfort.

As Leonie has said, after the operation make sure you follow your doctor's advice to make a full recovery.

Best wishes, V
"There are only two things worth aiming for, good music and a clean conscience." Paul Hindemith


Post by JQ. » Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:32 am

I've been living with CTS for the past 10 years. I declined surgery because of what were then much longer recovery times.

I can't play hours a day every day, but if I take it easy on my hands I'm usually okay.

One thing that helps me is taking a B6 vitamin supplement. It acts as a natural diuretic to prevent fluid buildup in the carpal tunnel sheath. When I first read about taking B6 for CTS, it said it could take 4-6 weeks to kick in. I felt a difference in my hands within 2 weeks.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, so don't take my or anyone's advice without doing your own research or asking your own doctor.

B vitamins are water soluable and don't build up in your system like fat soluable vitamins such as E and A. If you take more B vitamins than your body can use, you'll simply pass them in your urine.


Post by StaticXD00d » Sun Jan 21, 2007 3:04 pm

I am a computer programmer by day, budding guitarist by evening, and I spend a majority of my time as a result sitting in front of a computer and doing lots and lots of typing. About 10 years ago, I started developing CTS in both hands from all of the computer time, and decided to try an ergonomic keyboard to see if that would fix it. Well, guess what? I switched every keyboard I used over to the ergonomic style, especially the ones that prop up at the front of the keyboard (so your wrists are straight and not cocked up), and I've continued to use the computer every day of my life since then and the carpal tunnel has not returned, even during long stretches (like when crisis hits and you have to pull a 16-hour shift to make clients happy type of stuff).

So far, I haven't noticed any problems with it from guitar playing, but I'm just starting to play classical, and haven't gotten into all of the bizarre fingerings and big left-hand stretches yet. Played steel-string and electrics pretty heavily for a few years and never had a problem, but again, never really played anything that was overly difficult and required big left-hand stretches.

Anyway, my point being, if you're beginning to develop CTS and you're spending time at the computer using a regular straight keyboard on top of it, the $40 or so that a good ergonomic keyboard will set you back is money well spent. It will take you a day or two to get used to it, but once you do, you'll never go back. I get on a regular keyboard now and it feels awkward, like my hands are on top of each other and my wrists are cocked up at a 90-degree angle.

sV_cheats 1

Post by sV_cheats 1 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 3:37 pm

careful about the surgery, because I've had carpel tunnel and a bit of tendonitis, and they suggested the surgery, but it takes a full year to recover. I can't afford to not play guitar for a year right now, maybe when I'm much older!


Post by kfisherx » Sun Jan 21, 2007 4:44 pm

Drew... I suffered from this when I first started to play guituar. It happened because I tried to play pieces that were too complex for me without proper training. I was very sad like you are and wondered too about surgical options, then I realized what it is that causes the disease. I realized that it was really caused from bad technique and tension in my technique. Once I got in front of a teacher who taught me how to sit, hold my hands and play without tension the problem went away and I did not need surgery nor did I need to give up guitar. My teacher studied under Aaaron Shearer who also knew about CT and who took time to do a lot of studying about how to play the guitar correctly to avoid this type of thing. Now I can play as many hours in the day as I want to pain free. I never needed surgery. I needed to stop doing complex and painful stretches that I physically wasn't ready for and also to adjust my basic seat.

It took my over a year to find a guitar teacher that had knowldege about the physical issues that are caused by developing too quickly. Once I found him I was so pleased with the results that I worked with him to develop an E-learning program so that anyone in the world could also benefit from this sort of wisdom. If you are at all interested in getting this sort of help he is available at



Post by Dons » Sun Jan 21, 2007 5:20 pm

Hey Drew,
Sorry to hear about your CTS. I agree with JQ and have also had experience with B6. Also I know one of my co-workers did have the surgery and it's not a sure cure. I would always try the non-surgical methods first as there is no going back once they cut. Also Karla is right to watch your tension. As far as big stretches, I tend to not do them. If the music is calling for G bass and then reaching up to a B on the 7"th fret, I just play the G on the 5'th fret. I don't think it makes that much difference in the sound and certainly saves me on the wear and tear. Good luck with what ever you choose.


Post by kfisherx » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:51 pm

Drew... I have to strongly encourage you to at least talk to Scott. He can help you if your problems are related to how you are playing. Right now he is starting a new Assessment Program and it would be very worth your while to be assessed. He broke down my playing to the basic finger stroke but he built me back up to where I can play for as long as I want without pain.


Post by goodtone » Sun Jan 21, 2007 10:29 pm

Karla, I was just taking a look at Scott Kritzer's website and it looks really interesting - you're very lucky to have such a good teacher ! I haven't had a teacher now for about 20 years. I've just found a professional nearby and will be going for a first lesson in a couple of weeks.

I see that Scott has has e-learning courses also - do you or anybody else have any experience of Scott's e-learning courses. Are they for beginners only?

Sorry if I'm off topic - I really feel for anybody who has C.T.S. The older I get the more paranoid I get about getting injured and I'm very careful to not push myself too far. I like to think I have a fairly good relaxed technique but am always looking for ways to improve. I cringe now when I think back to when I first started playing and the stress I put my hands under through bad teaching. It's something you can do when you're younger but the older you get the more careful you have to be.



Post by kfisherx » Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:38 am

GT: I know I am extremely lucky. The elearning program has a few professional CG students enrolled. Perf De Castro is one of his students in fact. So it definately is not just for beginners. Scott insists though that all of his students have a beginner's mind.

Good luck on your first lesson. It's alway cool to seepeople grow!

Perfecto De Castro

Post by Perfecto De Castro » Mon Jan 22, 2007 6:20 am

I suffered from DeQuervain's tenosynovitis in the left hand last year. I was administered a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory shot that helped ease the condition temporarily, only to have it recurred 4 months after... a week before a major concert! :shock:

A new chiropractic procedure called "Graston Technique" helped me immensely to get back in somewhat playing shape to perform in that concert. After the concert I did not play for 4 months, was administered orthopedic acupuncture 3x a week and wore a wrist brace for the most part of the day and the whole night.

However, the good thing that came out of my injury and recovery period is that I have discovered which hand positions aggravated and subjected my hand to unnecessary tension. I took note of those bad positions and adjusted my playing posture accordingly. I also took time to re-think my left hand technique and totally revamp it, dropping whatever unnecessary tension is present.

Now with my revamped technique, I have gone back to playing guitar full-time: practicing, teaching and performing.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, even if you do get surgery to fix your CTS, you will end up injuring yourself again if you don't rethink your approach to guitar playing. That's what happened to me after my anti-inflam shot: I carried on my old way of playing guitar thinking I'm "cured".... you'll never be cured until you fix what injured you in the first place!

Here's where a knowledgeable teacher comes in. He/she will work with you in changing your technique to prevent future injuries as well as lift your playing to a higher level.

I would second the recommendation for Scott Kritzer. He's a wonderful teacher with a very concise and effective method. I started his e-lessons course back in May and my playing is now on a whole new level, one I did not think was possible to achieve in a short time. He basically confirmed my discoveries (the I realized while I was recovering) and introduced more ways to reduce playing tension, not only physically but with mental tension as well particularly in performance situations.

I am still studying with Scott so someday I will be able to teach his method.

Good luck and I wish you all the best!


Post by goodtone » Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:08 am

kfisherx wrote:GT: I know I am extremely lucky. The elearning program has a few professional CG students enrolled. Perf De Castro is one of his students in fact. So it definately is not just for beginners. Scott insists though that all of his students have a beginner's mind.

Good luck on your first lesson. It's alway cool to seepeople grow!
thankyou Carla and Perf de Castro. I've been toying with finding a new teacher/mentor for a while now who can give me some direction. I'm going to see how I get on with my new teacher in a couple of weeks. The e-learning course with Scott definitely sounds worthwile - though I would prefer face to face. I need to find out some more about Scott's course and the practicality of how it works. I wouldn't have a problem with adopting a begginers mind. Though I'm quite and experienced player I never have a closed mind when it comes to learning.



Post by goodtone » Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:52 am

and apologies for mispelling your name Karla :)

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