I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and unlike most of the people who claim to have it, I paid the big bucks to have the proper testing done and to hear the diagnosis straight from a specialist's mouth. By the way, the doctor said I have relatively mild CTS, but let's be honest, when you can't play, you can't play -- and there's nothing mild about that!
So I have done my fair share of ";google research"; and here are the things I have done that have helped me considerably:
1. I wear wrist splints at night and try to always keep my arms below my heart (in case my circulation might also need the help). I used to sleep on my stomach with my face on my hands, but I have had to quit doing that because it is the single worst thing I can do for my hands.
2. The more water I drink, the better my hands are. I'm not a health-nut, but I truly believe in the necessity of water to clean toxins out of your body.
3. I take one B6 a day (50 mg's) and I also take Omega Fatty Acids everyday. The B6 is directly linked to nerve and joint health and the Fatty Acids are for general health.
4. I warm-up for long stretches of time before I have serious playing to do, including LOTS of stretching of my hands and arms. I probably stretch longer than I actually warm-up.
5. Ice down after you play or at the very least, run your hands/arms under cold water. This totally sucks to do, but it's like hitting the reset button on your hands.
6. I stopped playing drumset at my church (we rock out). I only play light jazz combo gigs.
7. I demonstrate for my students only as necessary. I used to play along with them about 90% of the class, but now it might be 5-10%, 25% if we can't get something figured out. (This, BTW, has increased my awareness of my student's indivual needs/abilities, because I am not tied down to my drum or keyboard at the front of the room. So, bonus points.).
8. My teacher from college, with whom I play in the symphony, is a health-nut and is a jedi knight when it comes to herbs and holistic care of your body. (Me? No. Give me a beer and a steak. For breakfast.) But, she has said many times, even thought the surgeries for these types of problems are having much higher success rates, you should really still try to avoid having surgery until you are at a point when that is your only option. For us gigging/working/playing/teaching percussionists, having a surgery for this is almost impossible for scheduling. But, I suppose you would do it and take the time off to recover if you had to. (A doctor friend of mine who just had CTS surgery, reminded me to have only one hand done at a time, or ";who's gonna wipe your butt?";)
Sorry for the long post. I think this just boils down to two things: splints at night and knowing my limitations. Between those two things, I have noticed a MARKED difference in my playing and endurance.
The very best of luck to you, Neal, and keep us updated with your progress!
Legacy Forum Post
about 12 years ago
When I finished my studies in percussion I was totally down physically. I could play but I had so much tensions in my whole body (wrist, back, neck, name it...) that I didn't know if would be able to finish a performance. I took some lessons in Alexander Technique and I discovered that I had a problem with the way I used my whole body. In other words, it resulted that my posture was so bad that it affected all my movements. That mean that even if I was doing [u]nothing[/u], my muscles had very bad tensions in it. I must add that these tensions are not necesseraly perceivable by an observer like your teacher for example.�� ��
In short, when you do Alexander Technique, you discover that by freeing the neck while giving yourself the natural directions of the body, you begin to feel the liberty of your body�� (like when you are a children). I took these lessons for four years and it helped me a lot. I was 21 when I started these lessons. Now I am 33 and I can assure you�� that I play with more flexibility than at 21. I feel my whole body younger than 10 years ago. It may sound crazy but it is true.
This may not be the only way to solve this kind of problem but it worked for me.
I wish you success in your research.
P.S. I also had 2 treatments with an osth̩opathe (I don't know the translation in english) lately and it boosted my system also. An osth̩opathe acts principaly on the fluids of the body (others than the blood).
Legacy Forum Post
about 12 years ago
I have the problem in my right elbow that started about 8 years ago. I have been diagnosed with arthritis about 10 years ago so I just figured it was the same problem. I would really ache after drumming, to the point I don't dare pick up a drum, or put one on, or even play drum set when its really involved. The pain will last about 2 - 4 days. I use lots on extra strength over the counter meds before and during periods of lengthy amounts of drumming. I rarely need it after. The pain could be at times rather intense. Being 54, I guess it comes with old age - there, I said it.
I will say this, over the last 3-4 years, the pain does not bother me as much. So, I heard that green tea could help. I'm a coffee drinker every week day, but on weekends, I started drinking hot green tea. I believe it helps alleviate the pain for me.