Wrist and Arm Health

Hi everyone, this is my first time posting on the CTC forum. I have been playing for roughly 15 years without a hitch (currently in my late 20’s)… but I recently underwent surgery for Dequervain’s on my fretting hand and I am now experiencing ulnar nerve entrapment on my picking hand.

Now when I do any sort muting or picking, my middle finger to pinky goes numb. This affects the accuracy of my movements and makes it difficult to make progress.

For reference, I play with my guitar on the left leg, I use an angled pad grip and rest my forearm on the contour of the body. I try to play with as little tension as possible and I am mindful of my posture when practicing.

Has anyone here experienced anything similar? If so, how do you go about alleviating tension and stress while playing?

Do you have anything like these?

https://www.ironmind.com/product-info/ironmind-grip-tools/Expand-Your-Hand-Bands/

This might also be relevant:

(If that timestamp isn’t working I was aiming for “Tip 3: Rasgueados exercises”

At the 40 minute mark of the talk below, Nita Strauss gives her 2 cents:

I have experienced ulnar nerve syndrome, see a specialist and get some physical therapy. It can be difficult to find a good specialist, generally someone who deals with musicians would be best, but athlete ones would be the next best choice.

I wouldn’t listen to anyone but someone properly trained to deal with such problems and injuries.

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I also have an ulnar entrapment - echoing @ScottyB keep in mind that things like muscle soreness or carpal tunnel are different, and basically things that might apply to more general problems may not be applicable to an impinged nerve.

I’m curious, have you been ‘officially’ diagnosed with the entrapment on the right hand? Are you seeing PT/OT?

One of the most basic things about ulnar entrapment is that symptoms are worse with a bent elbow, so making sure your arm is relaxed and not-bent is probably important but obviously confirm with a medical pro…for me it was often advised that for any bent-elbow activity i was doing, to take frequent breaks. we probably ‘have’ to pick with a bent elbow to some degree, so it would make sense to have your arm as ‘not-bent’ as possible in other activities like typing, cooking, telekinesis, etc.

Anecdotally I also have found picking when the inside of my forearm is rubbing against the guitar to be more aggravating.

I compiled some more general pain advice here:

www.JakeEstner.com/pain

Yes I have been diagnosed, it landed me in the ER as I couldn’t even use my arm.

It’s my left hand. I’ve had issue with it in the past too. I quit playing for 10+ years because of it, I picked up the guitar again when the pandemic started, and I started to play way too much like 6-8 hours a day. It started in my shoulder in the front where the nerve connects and got progressively worse until I was unable to use my arm anymore and was in severe pain. It’s been over a year now, and it’s almost healed up entirely, but I have to limit it to 2-3 hours a day and sometimes I take 1-2 days off between practice. I was taught an exercise or two to “floss the nerve”. I’m also going to be 50 this year, so it’s just my body can’t recover like it used to.

Suffice to say I’ve spent the last two years learning how to play properly and relax and correct all the really bad things I was doing since the 80s. I actually have this forum and Andy Wood in particular to thank for that.

Anywho derailing the topic. Moral of the story, don’t try to mongo your way through playing, tension, tiredness and stiffness are the enemy and can/will cause injury as well as improper wrist angle (which MOST guitar players have). Pay attention to your body, if you get fatigued, feel any pain or tingling sensation, stop. Reassess what you are doing, consult experts on technique. You will hurt yourself if you don’t. I don’t think this is stressed enough by people or teachers in general.