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carpal tunnel release surgery blog


Joe Bloe

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Day 0:

 

I had carpal tunnel release surgery about 1 hour ago. With this being a somewhat common affliction for bass players I thought that there might be some interest in my experience.

 

Disclaimer: This is my experience. I don't recommend getting the surgery. I can't say that it will work for you, better or worse than it works for me. I'm not a doctor, although my stage nickname is "the Doctor of Bassology." Your milage may vary. Don't blame me if it does or does not work for you if you decide to have it done.

 

I have had problems with numbness, pain and tingling in my left hand for over 10 years. This last summer I looked up my symptoms and found that they were all indicitive of carpal tunnel syndrome. Since then I've been working with a hand specialist. Braces and therapy didn't relieve the symptoms. The cortizone injection gave total relief but only lasted for a couple of weeks. At that point I decided to have carpal tunnel release surgery.

 

I had it done on my fretting (left) hand with a local, they didn't put me under. For me the most unpleasant part was the shots to numb the hand. The procedure was "icky" but not overly unpleasant. It took about 15 minutes. I think there are three stitches, I didn't watch!

 

They sent me home with an ace bandage wrap on my hand. Currently I can type with my index finger my left hand. The rest of the fingers are still too numb to type. I can use the fingers but I'm not supposed to lift anythiny heavy.

 

My band takes off the month of December. The lead singer is a butcher and this is their busy season, so he doesn't have time to practice or gig until the end of the year. I'm hoping that by the end of the month I will be back in shape to gig again.

 

My hand is starting to get sore, so I'm going to go veg out for a while. If y'all are interested I'll post updates to me experience. And remember: I don't recommend anyone have this procedure done. I'm not a doctor. I felt this was right for me, and I'm sharing my experience for the good of the group.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Thanks for sharing - I'm interested to see how your recovery goes. I'm not a doctor either, but I'm not expecting much in the next few days. Let us know how you are feeling, and best of luck!

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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as I posted before: I've had the surgery on both wrists. It worked great for ME(note emphasis on the "me"). Is it THE treatment for everyone? NO! Does it work for alot of people? YES! For me, it worked. I could not go on the way it was and nothing else helped. I'm glad you made your own informed choice in this matter. I'm sure you'll have good results. Don't rush things. Let ypur body do what it knows how to do-heal.
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Day 1:

 

Owwwwwwww!

 

The local wore off during the night (they didn't knock me out fro the surgery, just numbed my hand). One finger still feels a little numb. The rest feel good. Typing hurts a little, but I can do it. Holding anything with pressure hurts. Moving my fingers and thumb does not hurt. My hand stays wrapped for 5 days, so I can't see the incision.

 

Ed Friedland' slap bass video came in the mail yesterday. I'm planning on working on my right hand technique while the left hand heals. I might try tonight after work and see how it feels. My doctors orders were: keep it dry & clean, if it hurts don't do it.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Day 2:

 

Much Better! I'm typing with all 8 fingers & 2 thumbs today! It feels pretty good. There isn't near as much soreness. I tried playing bass last night. It hurt to fret the strings, but I could do it. I'll try again tonight and see how it feels. In general: a huge improvement from yesterday.

 

I do need to keep it elevated. After a few hours it gets sore.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Glad to hear you're feeling positive about the results, Joe. Did the dr. say anything about laying off stuff like typing, bass playing, etc., for any period of time after the surgery (he asked, knowing that you'll have to type to reply)? Wouldn't want to push it and set yourself back!

 

 

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Glad to hear you're feeling positive about the results, Joe. Did the dr. say anything about laying off stuff like typing, bass playing,...

 

Nope, he said to keep the incision clean and dry, and not to lift anything heavier that two pounds. In general, if it hurts, don't do it. He said it was ok to type/use the hand right away.

 

My hand gets sore after a few hours, so I have been taking afternoons off from work. In fact, I just woke up from a two hour nap! Thanks for the concern.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Day 3:

 

Thanks for all the kind wishes! The hand feels pretty good today. I tried fretting a few notes last night. It hurt to us my pinky (I play a four fret spread with my four fingers). The other fingers didn't feel too bad. I have very little pain this morning. I can grab things again with my left hand without much pain. I was able to work on my equipment rack and install a new power amp last night. As long as I wasn't gripping things hard it was ok.

 

I tried putting on my wedding ring but my finger is still too swollen. All things considered the hand feels pretty good.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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I'm glad to hear that you're able to start using your hand. Not surprised about the swelling - healing takes time.

 

I had prescription painkillers for an operation one time. I took them the first night, and the next morning. At noon, my wife came in and asked if I wanted some soup. That was too complex a question for me to answer, and after watching my attempts at cogitation, she said "that's it - no more of that medication!". The over-the-counter stuff worked fine, and left me able to converse....

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Joe,

 

This makes for really interesting reading, keep it coming...

 

Stu

 

Thanks Stu!

 

All in all today went pretty well. I did find out that using my stapler (a Swingline Red stapler, perfect for TPS reports) with my left hand was a bad idea! Note to self: Don't use stapler with left hand...duh!

 

It hurts when I put pressure, such as touching my pinky to my thumb. The other fingers feel pretty good.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Evening Day 3:

 

I played bass for a while tonight. It felt ok. There is some discomfort using the pinky, but overall it felt ok. I think I could play a couple of songs if they are not too based on the second and fourth fingers on the left hand. The incision hurts a little bit right now, but not bad. I didn't expect to have this much use of hand this quickly. My hand is still wrapped in gauze and an ace bandage. I get to take that off on day 5 and just put a band aid over the incision.

 

Now if I could just get a slap technique that I'm happy with! I've been playing bass for a lot of years but I have never been able to get a slap that I like. I think that I'm kind'a muting the string when I slap it with my thumb and it sounds sort'a dead to me. Oh well, I'll work on that some more tomorrow night. Muting the strings doesn't cause any pain, so I can concentrate on my slapping while I recover.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Day 4:

 

I was able to put my wedding band on this morning. So the swelling in my fingers has gone down. I'll see how that goes during the day today. Overall my hand feels pretty good. No tingling, just a little pain at the incision. I can grasp light items, like shoes, with no discomfort.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Evening, Day 4:

 

Well raise my rent! I practiced for about an hour tonight!

 

All in all it felt pretty good. A little tender at the incision, but no real pain. I'm sure I could have played one set tonight. After about an hour I started to get a little sore, so I quit. I didn't expect to be able to do much at rehearsal next Tuesday night (it's currently Friday night). I'll bring my axe to rehersal and I expect to be able to play without any major problems.

 

I was working on Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" and "Big Ten Inch Record" songs tonight. I play "Sweet Emotion" bridging at the 12th fret. I didn't have any pain bridging. "Big Ten Inch" is a basic blues line that I would describe as "basing on the 2nd finger". This means that the second finger and pinky are the primary notes with incidentals thrown in with the first and third (this is how I view the finger position for this type of song). Earlier in the week I found the pinky to be kind'a tender to fret with. Tonight it felt ok, not great but ok.

 

In general I have played with a lot more pain than I had tonight. Like when I had tendonitis acting up in the right hand from too many gigs in a row. The top of right hand swelled up and I could feel the tendons "bubbling" when I wiggled my fingers. I'm in condition to play one gig a week. In a two week period we had played five gigs plus rehearsals.

 

Our band turned down a gig next week at a club that we have been trying to get booked into for months because of my surgery. The band didn't want the first booking there to be with a substitute bass player (I seem to remember a recent thread touching on this topic). The way I feel tonight, and looking at the progress I have made this week, I'm sorry we turned the gig down. I think in another week I might have been able to play it.

 

From what I can tell (remember, I'm not a doctor) the recovery from this procedure for me is just the healing of the incision. I have no pain in the hand tonight. I'm resting my palm on the laptop as I type this. I have full mobility of my fingers. I had no problems fretting the strings tonight. Plus, I can feel them under my fingers better now that my fingers are not tingling all the time.

 

Now if I could just get a slap that I'm happy with...

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Interesting reading. Keep this up! I fear that sometime in the future I'll have to do something like this. I play/practice a lot and my day job requires me to type a ton. Even using good technique for both is likely to eventually cause problems.

 

I cannot possibly say enough good things about using ergonomic keyboards. I started using them ~9 years ago and I know that it has saved me from already having hand/wrist problems. When I use a normal keyboard for any amount of time anymore I can feel pain in the tops of my hands and occasionally wrists.

 

If you have never taken a lesson in your life it might be worth your time to take at least one from a good instructor so they can talk to you about your technique - both hands. Using good technique has more benefits than just saving yourself from carpal tunnel. Increased speed, accuracy, and ease of playing all come from proper technique.

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Day 5:

 

I took off the gauze and ace bandage wrap. It looks pretty good, except for a few stitches at the base of my palm and a cut that is about an inch long. It feels pretty good. I can just about use the hand as usual. It's a little tender, but no sharp pains. Day by day I can see a marked improvement. No swelling, only minimal discumfort if I apply pressure directly to the wound.

 

I'm supposed to be attending a pub crawl fund raiser later today, but it's snowing & sleeting in Northern Illinois. If we end up staying home I'll try playing again this evening.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Evening Day 5:

 

Today was the first day with the gauze and ace wrap off which allowed for full motion of the wrist. My wrist started getting sore during the afternoon so I put my wrist brace on. It feels fine now, but I did not play today. I am going to leave the wrist brace on tonight. I'll take it off in the morning and see how my wrist feels.

 

Overall it still feels pretty good. A couple of times today when I bent my wrist it felt a little weird, but no real pain.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Yeah, I have a lot of pain when I flip to the Bears game!

 

The thing that brings me the most discomfort is holding the steering wheel when driving. I couldn't hold it at all until the last couple days. Today it is still uncomfortable. Something about holding onto the wheel doesn't feel comfortable yet.

 

I think I'm go try holding a cold beer (or two) in my hand while I watch the Bears game and see if it helps my pain!

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Evening Day 6:

 

The cold beer in my hand didn't help my pain watching the Bears :>(

 

Due to last night's ice storm today was busy. My parents live about 5 miles from my house. They have been without power now for about 30 hours. I was busy helping them with a generator and such.

 

My wrist was getting sore by mid-afternoon. I'm sure this had nothing to do with pounding the couch watching the Bears game! I wrapped it with an ace bandage and it feels better. I have to retract my earlier statement about the healing being mostly the incision. The incision is less painful, but after removing the cotton/gauze and ace bandage from my wrist on day 5 my wrist & hand start to get sore later in the afternoons. I'm guessing it's because I have full mobility of the hand without all the wraps around it.

 

It's not all that bad. Tonight I was able to do some hand sanding on the body of the Mexi-P bass that I'm refinishing. I worked on it for about 45 minutes until my hand/wrist starting getting sore.

 

No sharp pain, just general discomfort. When my hand starts to get sore I also start to get a little mild tingling in fingers. I'm guessing that I'm getting some mild swelling in the wrist that is causing the tingling and overall soreness.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Keep after it Joe.

 

The closest I got to the surgery was my orthoDoc saying:

"If this shot doesn't fix it we WILL have to go in and...."

at which point I cut him off and said

"The shot better work!"

It did.

That was 20 something years ago.

 

Keep us posted on your progress Joe.

Sometimes the beer doesn't help watching a game....

http://www.myspace.com/theguzzlers

 

Dad gave me a bass when I was 10.

I learned Gloria, Satisfaction, and a lot of Booker T & the MG's.

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Day 7:

 

My hand has felt pretty good today. It didn't really cause me any issues at work today, as long as I don't use my red swingline stapler! Aside from lifting heavy objects, the hand feels good. Doors, typing, door knobs, telephone, etc., are no problem. Cleaning my glasses causes some discomfort, but no sharp pain. I can flex my wrist without any discomfort.

 

I plan on practicing for a while this evening...

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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