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Thread: Pain in forearm near elbow

  1. #1
    Registered User Bigtuna's Avatar
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    Default Pain in forearm near elbow

    Lately have had a dull pain near my elbow on my inner left forearm (fretting hand), the area highlighted in blue in the attached image. I fear its tendonitis from what I've read, so I'm going to get it checked out as soon as I can. I even stopped playing this week to see if it would help (which it has to a certain degree, but I know there's got to be a better solution).

    So, I've got a couple of questions in regards to this pain. Has anyone else experienced this and how have you relieved the pain? Is it a result of bad posture and not being relaxed enough? Would a wider neck help? I've got fairly large hands, at times I feel I shouldn't be a mando player. Would a radiused fret board help? I've heard Grisman had some issues at one time with tendonitis and a radiused board helped him. Maybe this is my body telling me I need a new mandolin. Thanks for your help.
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  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    It's obvious you need a new mandolin!

    I have a similar, somewhat chronic though it gets much better sometimes, pain in my right forearm, same area. I also assume it is likely tendinitis (tennis elbow). Mine flairs up when I've been lifting heavy things or other times when I can't really remember what aggravated it (gripping tools usually).
    My solution is to try not to do things that make it hurt and wait for it to (hopefully) heal. I've been through bouts of tendinitis before, and though it takes time I've always healed.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    I have had left hand wrist and finger tendon problems that had stopped me from playing at one point. It scared the #### out of me because I had read something about bad habits/ poor technique and all that. Well, I talked to a family member who turned me on to contrast baths. If it wasn't for them I would have had a really difficult time practicing.

    This is not as complicated as it might sound and can be done quickly in terms of setup / cleanup.

    Proceedure I followed for my wrist: ( total time 15 minutes )

    Get a very large bowl.
    Get a blender and fill it with ice to the top
    Fill the tea kettle and get it to boil

    Put the blender and the bowl in a sink ( I have a big sink )
    Now fill the blender with cold water to the top.
    Fill the bowl with hot water from the sink.

    With both bowls full and the tea kettle almost ready to boil check your clock and somehow count off 15 minutes. You don't want to do this for much longer than 15 minutes or 20 minutes but it won't work at all if you don't do it for at least 12 - 15 min.

    I take my left hand a sink it up to the wrist in the blendor with ice water. I keep it submerged until I can't take it anymore. ( 15 seconds or less at first ) I then warm it immediately in the big bowl full of hot water. The hot water might feel a little too hot at first but it will quickly not seem hot at all after about the third cold water soaking. Keep doing this, going back and forth between the blender and the bowl. After about the 7th or 9th time I could submerge my hand for 2 - 3 minutes. At this point I would have to add some of the boiling water that the tea kettle made for me to even notice a temperature change in the warm bowl. Eventually my had is able to stay submirged for about 4 minutes in the ice water. It goes totally numb and in fact the ice water start to seem almost warm. The hot water from the tea kettle only feels warm on the outermost surface of my skin but there isn't an immediate sensation of warmth when I sink my hand in. Only after about 15 seconds do I feel the warm tingles. Right at the end when the 15 minute timer is about to go off finish in the hot water. You don't have to but the hot water will get your hand back to normal every time you put it in the hot water. It seems to just thaw you out and magically my hand would be movable / feelable / all that whenever going from hot to cold. On the last time in the hot bath I could have almost boiling water on my hand and at first don't even feel it. You have to use a little common sense here, don't put your hand in boiling water and if you start to actually burn yourself stop. If you do this correctly you are never in any danger of being burnt. Do this three times a day and within one week I bet your arm troubles are over.

    I got the idea from a family member who is a physical therapist. He called it a contrast bath but that's not his term, it an industry term.

    Hope it helps
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    Registered User Josh Kaplan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    This is your body telling you that you are overdoing it.

    There are two types of tennis elbow tendonitis. On is on the outside of the elbow; the other, sometimes called golfer's elbow, is on the inside, which sounds like the one you have/are getting.

    This calls for rest. It can persist for a long time and it can get worse. The first step is to back off. It can take weeks or months to go away, depending on how bad it is (and maybe on how old you are).

    The contrast baths may work for you and are worth a try as a way to fight the inflammation. It's good that you are going to seek help. Physical therapy can speed things up considerably. After the pain goes away, strengthening and flexibility exercises can keep it away.

    A lighter action, plus taking frequent breaks, will probably make more of a difference than the radius or width of the neck. A radiused fretboard is certainly not a magic fix.

    Technique aside, there is a tendency to keep that fretted hand locked in position, and that can easily lead to problems if you don't stop and shake out your arm every few minutes.

    I am not a doctor and I don't know much about mandolins, but the main thing to know about overuse injuries is that they are best avoided!

    Josh

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    I just remembered this;
    A friend of mine who is a banjo player had tendinitis in his right forearm, I assume similar to mine but much worse, and it was affecting his playing. He went to a doctor who requested that he bring his banjo in so he (the doc) could watch him play and see if there was anything about playing the banjo that could be changed of adjusted. He walked in, carrying the banjo in the case, and the doc said "get a shoulder strap for that case!". That did it, he quit lugging the banjo around by the case handle and the arm healed.

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    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Pain on the inner side is golfer's elbow -compare to tennis elbow where pain is on the outside.
    I've gotten this to where it was painful to shift gears while driving. It has not happened in a long while. My Dr. told me to take golf lessons. I was always able to play through it, as I really would not feel the pain until I stopped playing.
    Let's Go MESS

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    Registered User Josh Kaplan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    and the doc said "get a shoulder strap for that case!". That did it, he quit lugging the banjo around by the case handle and the arm healed.
    That's a good point. My briefcase gives me grief when it gets too heavy.

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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Check out the website "Musicians and Injuries". You'll find out a lot about this there!
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Another Hot pack technique, a tube sock full of rice, and stick it in the microwave to heat it up.

    frozen peas in the bag is a good cold pack to alternate with, or blue ice packs that are reusable and re freezable .
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    It's been said: "If it hurts when you do that....then don't do that!" Or at least back off until it stops hurting until you can hook up with a good physical therapist. I have to work with a lot of hand surgeons, and it's just amazing what's been learned about upper extremities over time. Those guys got me stretching early enough to reverse tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow, and have helped trigger finger issues.

    But just know that PT's and doc's aren't all created equally. So I hope you can get some help before your problem gets worse.

    Be well and good pickin'.....dan

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Yep, got the knots in the palms, the bone spurs, the arthritis, even a couple fingers starting to "trigger". What I ain't got, being self employed... well, I won't get all political...

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    Registered User Bigtuna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I'll try and keep you guys posted on the outcome.
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    mandolinist, Mixt Company D C Blood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Possibly a locked wrist while picking could cause this sort of pain? Try to relax the arm and use as much wrist as possible...
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    I was getting numbness and pain in my hand and arm and I adjusted my strap so that my mando was a lot lower. Took a while to get used to it but it helps a lot. Try different positions. Up high, down low, tucked under your arm like how McCoury plays. Sometimes playing in a different angle helps too.

    Try the free remedies first!

    good luck!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    I got tennis elbow really bad from playing saxophone...stopped playing saxophone and it got better!

    Occasionlly it does come back...repetitive stress injury. A little exercise my DR. gave me, FWIW, hang your arm down towards the ground / floor and rotate your hand/wrist as if you are turning a door knob.

    Hope you feel better!
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    I had pain in my elbows for about 10 months, couldn't pick up anything without pain. One chiropractor told me i had tennis elbow and had to quit doing whatever it was that was making it hurt. Went to another chiropractor and he immediately said oh you have a rib out, found the rib popped it back in and the pain was gone instantly and never came back. May not be your problem, but worth a shot.
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigtuna View Post
    Lately have had a dull pain near my elbow on my inner left forearm (fretting hand), the area highlighted in blue in the attached image.
    To my eye, the blue area is the outer left forearm. As others have mentioned, pain on the outer tendon is tennis elbow, and pain on the inner tendon is golfer's elbow. I've dealt with golfer's elbow on both arms, even though I've never played golf.

    Several mandolin players who had already gone down this dismal path had recommended acupuncture, so I took that route. My left elbow still flares up occasionally, but nothing that an elastic brace (preventative), ice, and/or Advil (after the fact) can't take care of. I can play easily for over an hour, whereas before, I was heading for drugs and ice after 10 minutes.

    Be careful, though, because these injuries are hard to permanently cure.

    Good luck!!!!
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Could be a bone out of place. I've had a wide range of elbow pains cured by a chiropractor. Sometimes just a little nudge. Sometimes it's taken a big push and a "pop."

    I've also noticed that poor wrist position has hurt some folks' elbows. Not sure of the dynamics there, but they're at the opposite ends of the same pair of bones.

    In the heat/cool thing, I like the bed buddy for heat (little beads) and a gel pack for cold.

    Things that have worked very well for me in general recovering from injuries (too many injuries):

    Deep muscle/fascia work (Rolfing, Core Structural Integration)
    Chiropractic
    Alexander Technique (will make you a better player)
    Physical Therapy
    Yoga

    Things that have done some good:

    Injections by doctors into locked up areas, or epidural
    Acupuncture
    Surgery (mixed bag - necessary, but end up with damage)

    Things that have done harm:

    Having a job doing contract work for the government
    Living in a city
    Being married to my ex
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Hi and welcome to the pain in the elbow club,

    First of all, see your Doctor. Second of all see your Doctor. Without a medical diagnosis, there can be no remedy.

    I am not a Doctor, however, I can relate my own experience. I have recurring pain in the outside of the elbow towards the forearm. I saw my Doctor and the diagnosis was tendonitis. His solution was a common elbow strap which I got at Walmart which is worn right below the elbow.

    The first time I got this was from playing golf. Even if the elbow is feeling good, I wear the strap while playing golf. For the most part, the tendonitis has mostly gone with only occasional flareups.
    Lee Oliver

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    Registered User deepmountain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Hi there,

    Couldn't help but notice this post. I've been helping my partner Jim, who is actually deepmountain, with another thread (he's not a computer guy, but is a mando player)...anyway, I'm a CMT, (Certified Massage Therapist) and have often encountered tendonitis issues with clients. First of all, accurate diagnosis by a qualified medical professional is key. If the diagnosis is indeed tendonitis, or tennis/golf elbow, one of the best remedies for this that I have found and have used with both myself and clients is a sports massage technique called Soft Tissue Release. It really works! and it is something that you can learn to do on yourself. I was trained by a PT who worked with professional and Olympic class athletes using this technique with great success. (Compression bands worn at the site really only treat symptoms and don't fix the problem.)

    There are many websites that outline how to do it.

    http://www.softtissuerelease.com/ (Stuart Taws site; this is who I was trained by.)

    http://www.bodyinbalance.com/Soft_Tissue_Release.htm

    http://www.robertsontrainingsystems....SMR-manual.pdf (Check this out! this one shows how to use rollers/balls to achieve results. A good alternative and clearly illustrated.)

    But first I would highly recommend going to a trained PT, CMT or other health professional who knows how to do this and then you can see how it's done. I've showed many people how to continue to do this on themselves to help prevent the problem in the future with very positive results.

    And the formula of RICE is always very good too: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. I would add that after the acute stage alternating hot and cold packs is very helpful.

    best of luck

    Kathryn Stark, CMT
    Last edited by deepmountain; Jan-23-2010 at 12:40pm.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Thank you. The manual is very nice. We've also been working with some kind of odd therapy involving little circles with the fingertips. Some lady's name is what it's called. Weirdly effective. My new sister is learning it. (New sister is a very weird story - but she visited and is real, and very British).

    Problem with RICE is how to elevate and ice my entire body.

    I've got a couple of really nice persistent spots at the moment, will try this STR stuff.
    Stephen Perry
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    Registered User buckles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Martin View Post
    Check out the website "Musicians and Injuries". You'll find out a lot about this there!
    Pete, exactly which website do you mean?

  23. #23
    Registered User Bigtuna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    After recently reading the thread about mandolin injuries I thought I should give an update one my condition. I never made it to a doctor, but I realized I more or less had/have tendonitis in my left forearm. Some call it "golfer's elbow", where as "tennis elbow" is more commonly referred to as pain on the outer forearm (at least my understanding). So, I really cut back on my playing, really just playing at jams with friends here and there. Unfortunately, I didn't practice much and I really felt like it showed. Fear made me not want to play, thank god I did. But, as many of you guys suggested, I stretched before I started playing, did a few hand and forearm exercises off the web, I stopped if it started hurting, took breaks, and I tried to only practice for only a hour at at time or a song/time at a time. But most importantly I found my playing position was awkward at best, so I straightened up, relaxed, and tried to drop my fretting hand down a few degrees to release some of the tension in my forearm. And after a month of following some of my own rules, I must say I feel much better and can now play for well over an hour before I even feel any kind of pain in my arm (as opposed to 10 min.). I should have seen a doctor I know, but I kinda knew what I had done after reading page after page in books and on the web about overuse injuries. So, if it hurts take a break, as long as you need, even if its a month. Luckily I just play for fun, so I just found other things to do, but I did have to stop going to the gym as well. But, I ran more. And now I play just as much mandolin as I did before, but smarter. Thank you guys for all your suggestions and comments.
    "They say the ocean, she is a woman, who waits for her man to come home." M.Houser

  24. #24
    Registered User Josh Kaplan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Really glad to hear your update. This is clearly the right approach.

    I am always skeptical about quick fixes and extravagant promises, but I tried the exercise described in this newspaper article on tennis elbow from last fall and it really has helped.

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/0...-tennis-elbow/

    I don't actually use the product they describe in the article, but I already had something I could use as a substitute, and the exercise has definitely made a difference.

    Josh

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    Default Re: Pain in forearm near elbow

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigtuna View Post
    after a month of following some of my own rules, I must say I feel much better and can now play for well over an hour before I even feel any kind of pain in my arm (as opposed to 10 min.). ...now I play just as much mandolin as I did before, but smarter.
    Congratulations!!! I know how scary it is to face the possibility that your music-playing days are over. I'm glad it's worked out so well for you.
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

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