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Thread: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

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    Default Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    I've searched other threads and found that I'm not alone, but didn't find a solution or resolution.

    I've practiced quite a bit in the past on guitar and fiddle and never experienced this. I'll be 47 shortly.

    New to Mandolin (started late December) and have been playing in a comfortable position (seated or in propped up in bed) with no strange wrist angles.

    The tips of my fingers are tingling and I've got substantial pain in my left arm, mainly from the elbow on down. Some shoulder pain, too. Taking ibuprofen to help.

    Has anyone experienced this and found a solution that involves elbow angle, etc? Do I need to give up practicing or find an ultra-easy playing mandolin?

    I really think this is related to mandolin playing and not a serious medical condition. I do sleep on my left arm normally but have been cutting back on this.

    Thanks.

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    Registered User jim_n_virginia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    What kind of mandolin are you playing and is it set up properly?

    I have played mandolins that literally played like butter with hardly no effort needed to note frets anywhere on the fretboard and I have played mandolins (some cheap and some high end) that have issues like high action, bad neck angle, fretboard or fret problems that make playing it almost torture.

    If you can play guitar with no pain but mandolin is painful I'd look at the setup!

    good luck

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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    I experienced the symptoms you describe but I got them when playing fiddle. Mando playing was comfortable. My problems are caused by a bone spur pinching a nerve in my spine. Physical therapy, massage, stretching, and changing my playing position have helped. Good luck!
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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    I'm sorry you're experiencing pain while playing. I agree with JnV that you should be sure your mandolin is set up to be comfortable to play. Some other suggestions are:

    1) You mentioned playing in bed. it is often recommended that one should be sitting upright, on a chair when playing. Even lounging on a soft couch, while playing a mandolin can cause physical stress and possibly an eventual injury.

    2) The mandolin neck should be angled upwards at approximately 45 degrees.

    3) Both hands should be relaxed as much as possible. Don't grip either your pick or the neck tightly. Actually you shouldn't be gripping the neck at all since the instrument should remain in position without any support of the fretting hand. If you are feeling tension any where; from your fingers to your neck, you should consciously relax.

    If the pain and tingling persists you should see a physician sooner... not later.

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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    First off... I'm not a Doctor, this is what works for me.

    I've experienced something similar to what you describe.

    Pain in the elbow, on the "funny bone", tingling down the forearm and down to the little finger.

    1. Hydration. You have to stay hydrated. You can read up on what proper hydration is all over the net. If you drink alcohol and/or caffeine you need to almost "work" at keeping water in yourself. The general "rule of thumb" is 8x8oz per day. I would stick with water only. The sports drinks are designed to replenish you after sustained hard effort since this isn't what we're trying to do I recommend just sticking with water. I prefer filtered...

    2. Excercise. I'm an office worker so I need to lift weights to maintain upper body conditioning. What particularly works for me and this specific area are curls, pullups, and dips. If you stopped right there that would probably be enough but to round it out I would also include, military press, bench press, lat pulldowns. I use "universal" machines at the "Y" and I can complete one round in about 20 minutes.

    There's also all kinds of info on weight lifting on the net so I won't try to give lessons on that either.

    Depending on how bad it is, it could take about a month to start seeing results, YMMV.

    Good luck and report back.

    Kevin

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    its a very very long song Jim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Which fingers are tingling, If it's middle,ring and /or little it is very likely your elbow angle. If it's your index finger it might be wrist angle but I'd be concerned about your neck too. I'd suggest sitting on a chair with your back straight while you play or standing and using a strap to hold your instrument. Try adjusting the strap high and low to see if it gets better. Also if you are turning your head to the left and tucking your chin to see where your fingers are this could compress spinal nerves on the left. All the setup suggestions are good too since it is easier to play relaxed if you don't have to use too much strength to push down the strings.
    Jim Richmond

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    Horton River NWT Rob Gerety's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Use a strap all the time and be sure the mandolin neck is angled up a bit. Position your fretting hand on the instrument just as you would when playing fiddle, not like guitar. I think it is somewhat odd that you would get shoulder pain playing mandolin but not guitar. Posture might be worth a check. Sit or stand in front of a mirror.

    One thing I would not do is to start a physical exercise program to solve pain symptoms without seeing a doctor first.
    Rob G.
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    I too am not an MD. Unfortunately, I am suffering from exactly the same problem and guitar is definitely less of an issue than mandolin. I have been playing both for many years but have been playing a lot more mandolin lately.

    I have had this condition since last September. I have been to a chiropractor, physiotherapist and conventional medic without improvement to date. My doctor has now diagnosed tennis elbow and I'm off to get a cortisone injection this afternoon. I'll keep you posted as to the result.

    It's particularly galling as I bought a brand new Summit Artist in October
    Paul Haley

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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Go see a good doctor.

    I had to have ulnar nerve entrapment surgury in my elbow and wrist to clear up tingling in my left hands little and ring finger. I also had pain in the location that people refer to as their funny bone. If the presure hadn't been relieved from the nerve the nerves could have been permenantly damaged and my hand would always feel like it was asleep which is not a pleasent sensation and will prevent you from playing. My surgury was done about a year ago and 95% of the symptoms have cleared up. I only have problem when I play in a weird position (laying down) or when I play fast stuff for hours at a time.

    Get some professional help.

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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Yes, get to a doctor. I've known too many folks who ignored pain issues and now can't play at all.

    Look up "Musicians and Injuries" web site to learn more about musical over use injuries.

    I posted a number of videos on good ergonomics for mando players (taught me by a great performing arts doc). You can find the link to them at my web site.
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    There are a lot of options for working on these kinds of problems. I don't think you will need to give up playing, but looking at posture will help.

    Also, there are options other than cortisone. Acupuncture is a very good one for this kind of problem. I remember reading a study comparing acupuncture and cortisone treatment for tennis elbow, and acupuncture was much more effective. Also, there is massage and similar treatments that deal with muscles, tendons, etc.

    If you want, you can go ask question on the site in the link below, it is kind of like the mandolin cafe of health care. Disclaimer - yes it is my site, but yes, it is free. We are building a community of people sharing information on health and medicine. There are people there with much more information than I have.

    http://www.mediyak.com/questions

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Make sure your doc is real. Think of doctors' saying: "there is no healthy person, only bad diagnoses".
    Someone coming up with cortisone would see my back exiting through the door.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    I can assure you that my Doctor is very real and fully qualified. The following is a direct quotation from the UK's National Health Service website:

    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Sports-...Treatment.aspx

    Cortisone injections

    In the case of severe or persistent inflammation (swelling), a cortisone injection may be recommended. As well as reducing inflammation, it will help prevent long-term muscle and ligament damage.

    If you have a cortisone injection, a fine needle will be used to inject the steroid cortisone into the tender area. It will usually be combined with an anaesthetic so it is not painful.

    Most people who have a cortisone injection find that their pain improves significantly or disappears completely within four weeks of treatment. For some people, pain relief is temporary and the pain returns after a few weeks. In such cases, two or three steroid injections may be needed over the course of a few weeks.

    The risk of developing side effects after a cortisone injection is small, although you may experience some increased discomfort at the site of the injection for up to 48 hours.
    Paul Haley

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    Registered User Steve Farling's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    I posted a number of videos on good ergonomics for mando players (taught me by a great performing arts doc). You can find the link to them at my web site.[/QUOTE]

    What a great, and very generous thing you have done, by posting these videos on youtube for free Pete. I just went through them all, and will be going over them again and again. I'm making a new strap tonight. I've been using the right shoulder for too many years, and I believe it has been the major cause of not being able to aquire any knid of speed. THANKS!!!
    Good Pickin', Steve

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Some of this repeats what has been said, but I have had similar issues and this is my take on it:

    1) The stretches on musicianshealth.com are really good. Do them regularly, including before and after playing. They really help me when I'm having hand/arm problems.

    2) Really work on decreasing your hand tension. Only use the minimum amount of pressure to fret the strings. Lighter strings and a better setup can help. I also find, but this may be personal preference, that a fatter neck and a radiused fretboard seem more "ergonomic," but your experience may vary.

    3) Do see a doc just to make sure it is not a medical problem. I have found the best docs for this are sports/occupational medicine specialists that further specialize in hand/arm issues. Orthopedic surgeons want to cut, and internists want to prescribe meds. You don't want either approach.

    4) Get a cheap banjo uke and string it in fifths tuned GDAE. Do all your practice on that until you heal up. Only play the actual mando for performance until you feel better. That way you don't lose the practice time, but you get your muscles, tendons and bones some "down time." If you are going to do this, PM me and I will share some lessons learned on setting up a uke like this.

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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Thank you for all the suggestions and replies.

    The condition surprised me so much as I haven't experienced it before, after years of playing other instruments.

    I'm going to hold off on playing and when I'm better take great attention to angles, position, and set-up. In the meantime, I'll stay hydrated, get exercise and if my insurance is still active, see a doctor.

    It's my first and middle finger that tingle the most.

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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Sorry to come into this late. As all have said: see a doc.

    Also, here is a good site devoted to helping musician prevent injuries. I have found it very helpful:
    http://www.shape.bc.ca/resources/pdf/msi.pdf

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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flynn View Post
    Orthopedic surgeons want to cut, and internists want to prescribe meds. You don't want either approach.
    I think it might be best to let the OP and his health care advisers decide whether surgery and/or medications are indicated.
    Rob G.
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    If these routes you have been given fail to alleviate your condition I would ask your doctor to have a specialist X-ray or perform MRI on your neck. You may have a bone spur or compressed disk causing your symptoms. Unfortunately you can't ignore the problem without causing damage sometimes permanent.

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    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    You might want to find a good yoga teacher.

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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    I'm going to see a doctor, as I've gathered here that it can get worse if not treated. Seems like ice/heat, a brace, excercise, and keeping hydrated would be good starting points, as well as some massage etc.

    Have had my neck x-rayed recently and there is some signs of arthritis there, so I'm open to all kinds of explanations. But it happened from prolonged playing and practicing on the instrument.

    You know, I was checking the link above on musicians and injuries and it mentioned that tendonitis seemed to more common in guitarists who play in the 12th and 13th positions...which I'm guessing is way high on the neck...kind of like mandolin.

    I'm reading all of the posts and appreciate it. Sure does sounds like some kind of tendinitis.

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    Mandolicious fishtownmike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    I'm surprised no one said Carpal Tunnel since these are the exact symptoms. It not just for office workers. I suffer from serious carpal tunnel that need surgery. If you catch it fast it can be treated with therapy. I'm always surprised when the first thing people mention is setup. Yes it is very important. My instruments are set up well and this hasn't prevented my injury. 30 years of playing contributed to it. If you have severe pain in the arm and tingling fingers this has something to do with the nerves and not high action. See a doctor first before your instrument repairman

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Just for the record, I do not deny that injections may help to drive away inflammation and pain. But as a patient in that situation, I would very much like to know how those problems were created in the first place, so as to avoid them in the future; very often, a successful therapy prevents the cause from being detected (the pain is gone, why bother?), which means it can happen again and I still don't know what's going on. And to know what's going on is most important for me.

    Diagnosis by Therapy (if it helps, that was it) is very common in the medical profession, but it is too error-prone for my taste.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Gerety View Post
    I think it might be best to let the OP and his health care advisers decide whether surgery and/or medications are indicated.
    Hey! I AM one of the OP's health care advisors! Just not one of those trained/licensed/professional ones. But what do you want if you ask medical advice from a bunch of musicians on an internet message board?!

  28. #25

    Default Re: Ouch! Elbow to Hand Pain, Tingling in Fingers. Give it up?

    About 5 yrs ago I had the Ulner Nerve Surgery on my left arm. My ring finger and pinky tingled all the time...felt like when you hit your funny bone but it was constant. Even after the surgery I still have the tingling thought not quite as bad. Now Im battling the trigger thumb on my left hand. Getting my second cortizone shot Feb.1. After that wears off it will probably be another surgery.

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