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Old 08-14-2019, 09:13 AM   #1
Jason Brian Merrill
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Default Guitar players - trigger finger, carpal tunnel, and stiffness

Hey guys,

I am experiencing a potential existential crisis lol.

Although music is still going well for me, I have had to pick up tons of other work because of my changing life circumstances and divorce.

What this means is, in addition to 3-4 gigs a week, teaching privately, and taking care of a musician with autism (as well as some recording), I also do odd jobs and landscaping for work. This means:

- holding a weedwacker for 45-70 mins at a time (with gloves on) for 8+ hours with 5-15 minute breaks between to drive to the next job

- moving stones

- climbing ladders

- painting, raking, other hand movements

....

And some of you may know me to also type a lot.

I now have trigger finger on my right aand some what left middle finger, and have stiffness all around.

I have an arm brace i try and wear when im not playing or working, but I need suggestions.

What can I do to treat this?

I simply do not have the option not to work
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:38 AM   #2
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Also a guitarist. I get trigger finger on a couple fingers on either hand from time to time - from guitar, and from some sports. You probably already know the answer, but stretch, and take breaks.. don't over exert. Stretching really helped my trigger finger though. I actually did all the exercises listed here daily, and several times a day: https://www.braceability.com/blogs/a...nger-exercises

I found the "Fingers to Palm Stretch" exercise to be most effective in helping. It also might sound weird but i found I had to sleep with my fingers kind of stretched out (Relaxed though), rather than folded in, otherwise I'd wake up with sore fingers too. This was recommended by my doctor, which sounded odd to me, but he was right... go figure.

Ideally, you'd take a break for a long period of time from all that activity and just get in as better condition as you can, then work to strengthen your finger muscles, wrists, etc.. but life isn't that easy. So I'd say work on stretching, take breaks when you can, and also when you feel a bit better, do some strength exercises on those small hand muscles (not saying yours are small.. I wouldn't know.. in general, they are small compared to our other muscles).

You mentioned it already, but anything you can do to brace those areas might help some too, but stretching will be needed. I work in computers, so I type a lot too. Do everything you can to ensure you're keyboard/desk setup is proper and you aren't adding extra strain on your wrists and fingers.
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:42 AM   #3
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thank you sir!
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:43 AM   #4
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Here's what I see for treatment of trigger finger:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-...t/drc-20365148

I don't know why I've not hit this or carpal tunnel in my lifetime, it makes no sense really other than sheer luck or genetics since I've abused my hands in the same way aka all of the above + 14 hour days of practice and/or typing/programming for 35 years now (well I don't practice that long these days, screw that! ) . I keep waiting for it to happen someday - I came close with a pinched nerve back in May but it seemed to fix itself so I'm not going to complain while being empathetic.

Hope you find a solution!!
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:45 AM   #5
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Both trigger finger and carpal tunnel can be surgically fixed too (as Karbo noted above), but with trigger finger, you can basically reverse it with stretching if you get a handle on it too soon. If you don't, it can become permanent. My bro-in-law has a permanent trigger finger. I think he's just used to it now, but it's not ideal for guitar playing (which he doesn't do) and a lot of other things, so you won't want that. I also added a little to my post above about bracing (which you noted already) and desk set up.

I think Carpal tunnel isn't something that all people are susceptible to though, but I do know surgery is very effective. My mom had it, and she had surgery years ago, and that fixed it permanently for her. Obviously, surgery isn't the most ideal for most people though.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:15 AM   #6
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hey get it checked out... I say this because was just talking with a buddy who is long time, older keyboard player who recently developed a thing like that... and the doctor found it was not just carpal tunnel but a cyst growing on the nerve... which he just got surgically fixed a day ago and he is expected to be good as new soon... BUT had he not found out what it was and got it fixed, he would have been in big trouble as it progressed...
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:51 AM   #7
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Hi Jason
Carpal tunnel is a very painful debilitating ailment I am lead to believe.
So all the best if it is that.
I am sure the weed eater thing would not be helping at all they are notorious for vibrations.
I am fortunate in having a varied life in the same way as yours doing all different work and play and I think that is good.
I have been going flat out for 56 years of having some sort of job and playing musical instruments and being an athlete .
I was asked by government investigator a few years ago if I had any problems
with carpal tunnel and repetitive strain injury (I have used a hand held dremmel up to 14 hours a day for 47 years)and if not what did I think
were the reasons why I did not.
The only answers I had were that I do everything with my limbs bio mechanically efficiently where possible and I also have avoided using tools like hammers and weed-eaters for long periods.
This variation of ways I believe leads to a more trouble free existence as doing multiple different tasks build up opposing muscle groups which help control awkward flex's.
Jarring is not good neither as is excessive vibration in my opinion so sorry if you are in the position of not being in a position to change that part of your life. If you where able to control your weed eating by having alternating periods with a lawn mower this might help or it may be possible t
get a more vibration free weed eater perhaps?
I use a 24 inch chainsaw I had a swedish brand for a while but then shifted
to a japanese brand and was quite taken that the vibrations dropped around 70%. You know eating properly, eating enough, taking in enough water, fatigue can all have a part to play.
Just my thoughts from a long life I am not a doctor I wish I had the instant answer for you.
As already mentioned it may not be Carpal tunnel best get it investigated.
It could also be you are overtired and over stressed.

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Old 08-14-2019, 03:39 PM   #8
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If you were only moderately active prior to what you're doing now, a lot of the stiffness will go away on its own as you continue working those muscles that you haven't used much in the past. A good stretching routine in the morning before you do the landscaping thing will help.

I got involved in a project last year that involved a lot of lifting, climbing ladders and such. Brother I was stiff as a board for about a couple of weeks before things started loosening up for me.

Carpel tunnel and the trigger finger thing, per the other suggestion, might be something you'll want to have checked out.
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Old 08-15-2019, 03:20 AM   #9
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I don't know if this might be relevant to you but I was at a point where I was having to have cortisone shots in both of my arms just above the wrist from excessive guitar playing.

My miracle fix after trying everything was to lower my string guage on both my acoustic and electric by one guage.

Also, hydration is very important and if drinking a lot of water upsets your stomach try mixing in just a little bit of non concentrate pure apple juice at a ratio of about 1 part juice to 4 or 5 parts water, it really settles the stomach that way.

Also take a good look at stress and stretching.

My problems went away and it has been over 10 years without a single problem.

My 1 cent, good luck and God bless you bro.

Here In Oregon
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:35 AM   #10
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it's scary, guys. If I don't have music, I don't know. I can't just rant on the internet. I've greatly reduced that recently. lol.
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:36 AM   #11
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thank you for all your responses. I'm squeezing a flexible icing thing. and im exercising my hand. I am going to try and work less, but if I don't get out of debt (From remodeling the house that I am losing in the divorce without any hope of a decent settlement) I am going to be screwed.

thank you all for your ideas!
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:45 AM   #12
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I'm sorry to hear of the divorce, seems like just yesterday you were getting married and I was looking at pictures on your site (or somewhere). After all these years, I'm starting to think people shouldn't get married before 40 because lives and life perspectives and situations change too much between 20 and 40 to allow for anything less that a higher divorce rate - I could be totally wrong but I swear it seems that way and I'm biased because I didn't get married until 44 for similar reasons - and watching almost every friend I grew up with get married earlier and divorce.

Take care!
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:09 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
watching almost every friend I grew up with get married earlier and divorce.
The old "Practice Wife", I had one. They teach you what you don't want in a spouse. As for the "if it's carpal tunnel" question, I recently was having issues with my index finger and thumb, so I bought a vertical mouse, got a velcro brace to wear at night, and bought the keyboard shelf that's made for my desk to get the mouse and keyboard off the desktop and down low like they are almost sitting in my lap. The vertical mouse instantly made a huge difference and the lower position of the keyboard and mouse relieved a lot more strain.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:49 AM   #14
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the divorce is very difficult for a lot of reasons - but life is going on.

it appears that if you don't solve problems that started months into your relationship, it will eventually bite you in the ass!

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Old 08-15-2019, 07:51 AM   #15
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keeping in mind im 38 and got married at 34.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:58 AM   #16
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keeping in mind im 38 and got married at 34.
I thought it was close to that. My wife and I were together about 15 years before we got married (lived together for 13 of those) - mostly because neither of us trust the legal institution racket that is connected to it. However, after making it 15 years, we pretty much traversed all the rough waters and survived, making it far more likely a marriage would survive.

Fingers crossed but we have learned to fight the fights that really matter, and let all the other shit go, made a big difference.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:59 AM   #17
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I still hold on to hope - but there's a lot of layers to unpack, it's gonna be a while for healing here. It's not hard to get a girlfriend or to fuck around, but I mean - that's not really ideal.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:21 AM   #18
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did i mention my cat died recently, too? hahah im building a country song... weird, too - never been a fan

https://www.facebook.com/Burgersthecat/
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:25 AM   #19
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I have an arm brace

i cant imagine that a brace would be helpful in most situations. especially since there is much advice so far to stretch regularly. a brace is the exact opposite of stretching, it results in tightness and muscle atrophy. do not wear a brace.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:29 AM   #20
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i cant imagine that a brace would be helpful in most situations. especially since there is much advice so far to stretch regularly. a brace is the exact opposite of stretching, it results in tightness and muscle atrophy. do not wear a brace.
If it's a repetitive motion injury, a brace restricts the motion that is being repeated.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:36 AM   #21
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i cant imagine that a brace would be helpful in most situations. especially since there is much advice so far to stretch regularly. a brace is the exact opposite of stretching, it results in tightness and muscle atrophy. do not wear a brace.
i think it's helpful at night to prevent moving it the wrong way in my sleep, at the least.
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:14 AM   #22
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Are you aware of how the fingers work from a pulley-tunnel system point of view?

You've got tendons - cables - running through tunnels, sheathes. You've irritated the tendon on one side and put a "knot" (inflammation) in it that can't traverse the "tunnel", so to speak.

The *only* way that gets better is to wait until the swelling goes down. Putting "over spec" weight on the tendon while it's on one side of the knuckle - lifting stones - allows it to swell on on side of the knuckle.

As long as you make the tendon force the swollen part back and forth, it's probably not going to get better.

Anti-inflammatory doses of ibuprofen, ice, maybe restricted so it doesn't move. For how long would be based on answering the question, "how long does it take you to see a bruise go away?" + a day.

But I'm not a doctor, and haven't stayed at a Holiday Inn since one in New Orleans with a band back in the 90's.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:20 AM   #23
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did i mention my cat died recently, too? hahah im building a country song... weird, too - never been a fan

https://www.facebook.com/Burgersthecat/
Well, I'm sorry. My cat (aka my little buddy of 15 farking years) died on me in 2010. There was no warning, I came home, his familiar shadow was not visible under the bottom of the closed door where he always waited for me to come home. It sucked major balls and I miss him (hank) till this day.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:10 AM   #24
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In addition to the advice I already gave, I'll definitely second (or third or more) some of the other advice others gave:

- get it checked out. Carpal tunnel is easy to test and confirm. It might be carpal tunnel, or it could be tendinitis, or repetitive use or something else. It helps to know what you're dealing with.
- anti inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen) and ice can help.
- don't discount the string gauge idea suggested by HIO - anything to reduce stress on that area. In my case, I actually was causing extra strain on my wrists from hockey, and one way to help that... changed the flex of my stick to something more flexible. It worked wonders.

As mentioned before, stretching, breaks (And water, as others mentioned) will go a really long way in helping though.

Bottom line though, if you go about this the right way now, you can get your body in better shape so that your play time will last longer. If you don't go about the right way, you could end up effing yourself over in the long term for some short term (painful) gain.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:52 AM   #25
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Well, I'm sorry. My cat (aka my little buddy of 15 farking years) died on me in 2010. There was no warning, I came home, his familiar shadow was not visible under the bottom of the closed door where he always waited for me to come home. It sucked major balls and I miss him (hank) till this day.
I've lost so many friends (pets) in my life but I take solace in knowing that I did everything I could for them, gave them the best life possible and loved them. And it's funny but I think about them all quite often! From the first pet I can remember right up to now. Currently we have 3 big dogs and a cat that rules the house. Losing them will be just as tough as any of the other pets I've ever lost but we will move on and they will live on in our memories.
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Old 08-15-2019, 01:20 PM   #26
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Also, I know a whole lot of people who went through a divorce and everyone of them went through some kind of personal hell.

It will pass.

Hang in there, you will get over this.

Smart of you to air it out a bit and many have been traumatized by the process of divorce and I have never even heard of one which was pretty.

Many even have had to seek out some type of therapy even if they were the ones to instigate the big "D" in the first place.
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:15 PM   #27
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I got pretty bad carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome from my former day job. I was tasked with recoding ~750,000 lines of code which tested a particular series of autopilots, to add tests for a new model into the code, without breaking the code for any of the existing models. I was a lab tech, and was working on a lab bench (which had pretty horrible ergonomics for typing, and led to repetitive stress injuries). I worked this way for maybe 14 months or so.

Anyway, I was getting pretty bad symptoms, and through researching it I found a series of stretches that really helped over time. (Like over 18 years... it's sort of an ongoing thing)

Disclaimer: Do these with moderation and caution. I accept no responsibility if you self-injure yourself through excess ambition and effort in doing these.

The simplest is the prayer pose: Palms together in front of you, fingers pointing up, slowly lowering your hands to your navel as the tendons loosen up. By slowly, it depends on the pain level, and might mean anything from 10 minutes to a year, varying with the level of inflammation you have.

Once you can do that, an advanced variation borrowed from yoga is the reverse prayer pose:
Touch your fingertips together behind your back. As you get looser over time, eventually work to getting your palms together behind your back, fingertips pointing up. As that becomes easier, work on moving your palms upward on your back. At some point, you'll be able to raise them till they're between your shoulder blades. This not only stretches the hell out the carpal tunnel tendons, it also forces your posture to straighten out dramatically.

These two alone have gotten my carpal tunnel under control. They have to be done regularly when doing extended periods of typing, playing guitar/piano/bass etc., mouse work on the PC, whatever, to prevent nerve inflammation from recurring.

The cubital tunnel syndrome was fixed through surgery paid through workmens comp (a U.S. thing) since I demonstrated it happened at work due to bad ergonomics. They basically opened up my elbow and chiselled the bone to remove the 'funny bone' notch that was squeezing the nerve going to my hand.

I hope this helps someone who has these problems.
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:29 PM   #28
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the divorce is very difficult for a lot of reasons - but life is going on.

it appears that if you don't solve problems that started months into your relationship, it will eventually bite you in the ass!

That's true. In my experience, marriage, like child-rearing, is a continuous process of problem-solving. If you ignore a problem, it just gets bigger. Little problems and annoyances tend to build up into a whole bag of problems until you don't even know which one is making you angry.

There is joy and comfort in marriage too. It just takes work on both sides.

But she shouldn't get all the property, and you shouldn't get all the debt. It is easy to get into a state where you just want it over and give up. But it is not fair.
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Old 08-16-2019, 04:27 PM   #29
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But she shouldn't get all the property, and you shouldn't get all the debt. It is easy to get into a state where you just want it over and give up. But it is not fair.
I agree! Those laws are VERY antiquated and need to be changed!
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Old 08-17-2019, 12:25 AM   #30
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I hope this helps someone who has these problems.
It has! Been plagued with metacarpal issues, full-on trigger finger & all sortws of tendonitis and muscle tears over the years, but that simple prayer pose suggestion has loosened up things far more than I ever imagined. A huge thankyou.
I did a gig last night which is prett full-on & had NO issues with my hands plus hardly anything from my Bronchiactisis! Maybe I have turned some sort of corner with your advice.
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Old 08-17-2019, 12:55 AM   #31
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Default Trigger Point Therapy

This stuff is really good. I've used it for a frozen shoulder and it really speeded up healing.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trigger-Poi...s%2C252&sr=8-1.

There a plenty of other books but this guy is the original.
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Old 08-18-2019, 08:31 AM   #32
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lawn work has dried up a bit (literally) and ... shocker, it's starting to do better. But I am exercising it and taking ibuprofen
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Old 08-18-2019, 10:00 AM   #33
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Weedwackers are terrible for the hands, wrists, and upper joints. They have tons of vibration, and holding that trigger causes tension in the hand and wrist. I think you already see that getting away from it is the most practical solution.
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Old 08-18-2019, 10:42 AM   #34
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Weedwackers are terrible for the hands, wrists, and upper joints. They have tons of vibration, and holding that trigger causes tension in the hand and wrist. I think you already see that getting away from it is the most practical solution.
yeah, sucks to lose money on that, but would suck more to lose my hands.

I am going to look for some heavy gloves. Maybe that might work
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Old 08-18-2019, 11:22 AM   #35
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Have you considered a harness for your trimmer? It wouldn't help with vibrations, I'm sure, but it would at least take some of the weight off of your hands and wrists, which might help.
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Old 08-18-2019, 07:57 PM   #36
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I know a lot about this and have a lot of experience despite being 30 years old. Try supplements, if they donít work try an over the counter anti inflamatory, if they donít work see a doctor. From there you look at dedicated medications.

The most effective thing I have used for the pain in my hands is an Snri (cymbalta or Effexor).
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Old 08-19-2019, 08:38 AM   #37
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It has! Been plagued with metacarpal issues, full-on trigger finger & all sortws of tendonitis and muscle tears over the years, but that simple prayer pose suggestion has loosened up things far more than I ever imagined. A huge thankyou.
I did a gig last night which is prett full-on & had NO issues with my hands plus hardly anything from my Bronchiactisis! Maybe I have turned some sort of corner with your advice.
I'm glad it did some good!
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Old 08-19-2019, 10:28 AM   #38
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I know a lot about this and have a lot of experience despite being 30 years old. Try supplements, if they donít work try an over the counter anti inflamatory, if they donít work see a doctor. From there you look at dedicated medications.

The most effective thing I have used for the pain in my hands is an Snri (cymbalta or Effexor).
That would treat the symptoms, but better to handle the cause, I think. Still, good info if the latter is not an option.
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:00 PM   #39
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I had steroid injections for trigger finger and they really worked well. Now after an op to insert a ceramic disc over the trapezium bone in my right wrist to replace the joint (arthritis) I have a damaged radial nerve in my thumb that is worse and more painful than the initial problem. I guess my luck ran out, can't see me gigging again. Still the music loving public can breathe a sigh of relief.....
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Old 08-19-2019, 03:05 PM   #40
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If you were only moderately active prior to what you're doing now, a lot of the stiffness will go away on its own as you continue working those muscles that you haven't used much in the past. A good stretching routine in the morning before you do the landscaping thing will help.

I got involved in a project last year that involved a lot of lifting, climbing ladders and such. Brother I was stiff as a board for about a couple of weeks before things started loosening up for me.

Carpel tunnel and the trigger finger thing, per the other suggestion, might be something you'll want to have checked out.
Good advice: warm up, and warm down.
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