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Wrist Pain in Strumming hand?

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I am asking this question for my wife, so I will try to translate what she is feeling. Since her recent increase in playing she now has a pretty bad pain in the wrist of her strumming hand. It tends to be bad in the morning, weaker grip, occasional sharp pains, but for the most part it is a consistent dull ache. Some crunchy noise, popping and cracking, doing range of motion exercises. It seems to be the worst flexing and extending the wrist. She has a pretty tight strum, meaning it is more from the elbow than the wrist, with quite a bit of forearm tension which may be part of it. But I thought i would run it past you guys to see if you had any input. She seems to think it may be along the lines of carpel tunnel syndrome or arthritic in nature, but any input would be great. What to do, what not to do, etc. Thanks in advance.

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Of course, you should take any opinion (like mine) on the internet with a grain of salt.

 

Crunchy noises are not necessarily something to be worried about.

 

The main thing is: if something hurts, stop doing it.

 

General advise for guitar playing: proper warm up, take breaks.

 

Stretching can help.

 

The body responds well to gradual increases in activity. Given a little time to recover, the volume of activity can be increased. This is how to build endurance. Large increases in the volume of activity is a good way to get injured. Age plays a factor - younger people are more resiliant.

 

General heath should be considered (weight, high blood pressre, etc.)

 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a pretty useless term. Anything with the

word "syndrome" should be looked at carfully. Problems with the hand area can be comming from a lot of places. For example, scalene muscles (on the side of the neck) can have knots in them that cause hand pain. In this case it sounds like overuse - probably not any scalene muscles...but I'm just mentioning this to illustrate how useless the term "carpal tunnel syndrome" is.

 

Fortunately, many wrist/hand problems have the same solutions. There are about 18 muscles in the forearm that control wrist and finger movement. These are divided into flexion and extension muscles which are "opposing muscle groups." Also there is pronation and supination.

 

Forearm massage can be helpful. The problem with massage is that it's hard on the hands and you can get overuse problems from doing massage! There are tools available to help the hands when massaging.

 

Some people curl their wrist and elbow at night without much thought of it. It can help to sleep with the wrist straight. This relieves pressure on the median nerve through the carpal tunnel. Some doctors will prescribe a wrist splint to be worn at night for people with "carpal tunnel syndrom". In general, the splint shouldn't be worn during the day - only at night. I think this is because splinting can cause muscle stiffnes and atrophy because you are not using your muscles in their normal manner. Also, by splinting, you are stressing other muscles that have to compensate for the limitation in range of motion.

 

Here are some exercises for the wrist:

 

Ulnar and Radial deviation:

http://www.usta.com/healthandfitness/fullstory.sps?iNewsid=59135&itype=6835&icategoryid=591

 

Forearm Pronation/Supination

Wrist Flexion/Wrist Extension

http://www.nismat.org/ptcor/tennis_elbow/

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Thanks for the input guys,

 

She is only 28 and plenty healthy/inshape so I think she is fine there. She is playing weekly, she leads music at our church so I know taking time to heal will probably not fly well with her. Stretching and ROM exercises sound good, but do you think there could be a "form" related issue with the way she strums?

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Those symptoms sound exactly like the ones I had before I got tendonitis badly and had to take a long break from playing. She really needs to take it seriously, especially when that dull pain sets in.

 

Also: she should review all her activities. Playing guitar might be allright, but if you're also e.g.: lifting children, typing, playing computer games, playing tennis and similar sports at the same time, it all adds up. All the strain must be counterweighed by: stretching, BREAKS (important!), a good night's sleep, etc.

 

She could see a guitar teacher a few times, to make sure it isn't to do with her technique.

 

I was helped immensely by the book "Conquering carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries" by Sharon Butler. Contains lots of mild stretching exercises.

 

Apart from that I've found that massage, of the arms but also of the shoulders, neck, chest, can help. The nerves do run from the fingers all the way up to the spine, so any pressure or muscle problems along the way can be the culprit. I had immense pain and tension in my armpit that I had totally overlooked untill I went to see a masseur.

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dsimon665 covered most of it, but the problem with dismissing it as something minor (which it probably is) is that it could be major (tendonitis, etc...). In all likeliness, it's probably just your basic sore muscle/tension/overuse/etc, etc, etc... Especially if she suddenly just started playing a lot. It'll go away as her muscles adapt.

 

Personally, I wouldn't worry if it were me (even knowing it could be serious... it's probably not)... but if you're really concerned, it might be a good idea to go to a physical therapist once or twice just so they can show her how the muscles work (holistically... whereas a guitar teacher would show her the proper hand position, a physical therapist can explain how every part of her body/posture effects every other part), what to do/what not to do, and exercises to relieve any pain she gets. They can also help work out any kinks she already has.

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it sounds like she maybe has poor posture? does she have a teacher who can check?

 

it sounds like she is using too much tension in her wrist to play when the strength to play should come from your arm & shoulder.

 

she should be careful as it could stop her playing for a long time if she overdoes it. :(

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