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Lideruke
03-03-2013, 05:14 AM
So I went to my doctor Friday and was diagnosed with Ukulele Elbow (I don't play tennis)! Who'd a thunk? Anyone else dealing with this? Any suggestions?

Doc_J
03-03-2013, 05:19 AM
So I went to my doctor Friday and was diagnosed with Ukulele Elbow (I don't play tennis)! Who'd a thunk? Anyone else dealing with this? Any suggestions?

Sorry to hear about your elbow.

Hmmm. Most of my movements are in the wrist and fingers. There shouldn't be too much elbow motion.

Do what your Doc says.

uburoibob
03-03-2013, 05:42 AM
My soprano gives my left elbow a bit of a hard time. The tenor doesn't require as much of a bend to play.

Bob

Raygf
03-03-2013, 05:43 AM
Yes, I have dealt with tennis/golf elbow (don't play either) as well as some left shoulder problems. Some of it stemmed from doing push ups with my elbows out at the shoulders. I now keep the shoulders tucked in against my sides. We also had a horrific winter a few years back and snow shoveling added to the problem and caused problems in the right elbow as well. I was not a happy camper. Rest is number one on the list. I had some success with these 2 products. BandIT (http://www.amazon.com/Pro-Band-Sports-ABI00-Therapeutic/dp/B000FML7SW/ref=sr_1_3?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1362328268&sr=1-3&keywords=tennis+elbow+brace) when I had to cut the lawn, etc. and Futuro Sport Tennis Elbow Support (http://www.amazon.com/Futuro-Sport-Tennis-Support-Adjustable/dp/B0057D87SW/ref=sr_1_8?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1362328502&sr=1-8&keywords=tennis+elbow+brace) when I slept and when the right elbow hurt when I had to play. Both have reduced to almost nothing. (The left shoulder and elbow ache a bit now and then, more so when I'm not playing and fortunately, nothing like it had been. I could hardly press down on a counter top with a sponge to wipe up a spill.) WHEW!

Raygf
03-03-2013, 05:46 AM
My soprano gives my left elbow a bit of a hard time. The tenor doesn't require as much of a bend to play.

Bob

Me too. The problem does occur after I've been playing soprano.

mailman
03-03-2013, 06:30 AM
You didn't mention which elbow is giving you problems. The stumming arm or the fretting arm? I have had tennis elbow problems in the past, and it's no fun. I believe mine was more related to swinging a hammer and twisting a screwdriver, and to my juggling hobby than my ukulele hobby, but it hurts, just the same. I wore a compression strap around my right fore arm for several years, with limited relief. I also tried physical therapy and limiting my juggling time, but neither helped.

Eventually it became so severe that surgery was indicated. I had the surgery, and it has been MUCH better since then. My advice to others is to not let the injury progress to that point. I should have limited my tool usage earlier, and cut back on my juggling time, too....

bonesigh
03-03-2013, 06:30 AM
My husband has problems with his arm hurting while playing. I have trouble with my fingers going numb (nerve thing). But only sometimes.

KimosTherapy
03-03-2013, 06:39 AM
You have tendonitis.

Take a product that has glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM - all in one(pills or liquid, which can be purchased from a health food store, vitamin store, grocery store, drug store ... even Costco. Follow the recommended dosage and frequency per day - religiously every single day. The pain will progressively lessen and then completely go away. I would continue taking them at least for another week or two after the pain has gone away.

hawaii 50
03-03-2013, 07:27 AM
Yes I also have a Ukulele elbow..oouch!
but mine also has something to do with being a mailman for a long time..my left elbow bent most of the day carrying heavy bundles of mail in my left arm (but retired now)

when I practice for a while hard to straighten my left arm..but that is the price you have to pay to do something you love..

I will be watching for remedies for this..thxs

OldePhart
03-03-2013, 08:03 AM
You have tendonitis.

Take a product that has glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM - all in one(pills or liquid, which can be purchased from a health food store, vitamin store, grocery store, drug store ... even Costco. Follow the recommended dosage and frequency per day - religiously every single day. The pain will progressively lessen and then completely go away. I would continue taking them at least for another week or two after the pain has gone away.

:agree: except I recommend you keep taking them for life. Otherwise, the problems will come back.

Also, the OP has seen a doctor so obviously they should follow their physician's treatment regimen. But, for people in general, and especially those over 40, I can't think of anything single thing that is going to be better for joint health then a glucosamine supplement.

About ten years ago I was stacking lumber and I caught my finger between the stack I was dropping and the boards below. It did a number on a nuckle on my left hand. It just never healed up, and was so bad I couldn't play guitar at all. Even after six months if I played guitar for five minutes it would be throbbing so bad as to be unbearable, and I've got a pretty high tolerance for pain. Anyway, the doctor said there wasn't really much they could do but recommended glucosamine. It took about a week to notice any difference at all, and another couple of weeks before I could play guitar, and then maybe another month before I could play for an extended period of time. I asked the doctor and he said, "just keep taking them - it lubricates joints and being over 40 your body needs all the help with that that it can get."

Edited to add: BTW, you do want to get decent stuff, it won't be cheap but most glucosamine supplements come from fish byproducts so mercury buildup is of at least some concern, though most mercury is in the meat of the fish, not the cartiledge and bone that the supplements come from. Still, if you're going to be taking them for years you don't want to get some fly-by-night untested product.

Edit to add: Oh, one other important note. There must be some kind of link between certain elbow pains and heart disease - I know, it sounds bizarre and I don't have any authorities to site, but here's my experience. I didn't start playing guitar until I was almost 40. When I did, I discovered that I could not play chords - I could make the shapes easily enough but after ten or fifteen minutes of practice my left elbow would hurt very badly and and be so stiff I almost couldn't move it. I had fallen on that elbow iceskating when I was a teenager and, while I didn't break anything, the doctors then had told me that I might develop arthritis in it so I assumed that was what was going on. Anyway, after about a year of playing guitar I had a massive heart attack, stents, and they put me on a ton of meds, but no pain relievers. While I was recuperating at home I discovered that I could play guitar chords for hours without any discomfort in my left elbow at all. So, something changed between before and after the heart attack. They did nothing to my left arm or shoulder, and other than opening up and stinting the arteries around my heart and putting me on blood pressure meds and a beta blocker to control heart rate, nothing that should have affected my elbow.

So, all I'm saying is if you're suffering unusual pain and it's been a while since you've had a thorough physical (for me it had been years), get a complete physical, don't just treat the symptoms...

John

OldePhart
03-03-2013, 08:19 AM
when I practice for a while hard to straighten my left arm..but that is the price you have to pay to do something you love..


Seeing this was what prompted me to add the note to my post about getting a complete physical... :)

John

hawaii 50
03-03-2013, 08:23 AM
Seeing this was what prompted me to add the note to my post about getting a complete physical... :)

John


Thanks John..I hate the Doctor's..but that is why I pay for medical ins.
hopefully I will take your advice.. lol

AndyM
03-03-2013, 08:48 AM
I've had elbow trouble for years,mainly because of my job as a mechanical fitter.After 2 lots of surgery in the last 2 years(minor bone removal from 1,tendon release from the other)i still have problems.My strumming arm is worse,especially if i play my concert(i think my arm position is more comfortable with a soprano),limiting my playing time to 2 hours max,so if you can get them sorted do it sooner rather than later.

Lideruke
03-03-2013, 04:15 PM
Thanks for all the responses, folks! It's my right strumming elbow, to be precise. Left one is just fine. Playing uke has also apparently accelerated the deterioration of my right shoulder. It's been dislocated numerous times over the years, but now I can really feel it moving around in the socket. Doc said there's nothing to do about that now!
I just turned 37, but this stuff makes me feel much older!
I'll definitely try the glucosamine. That sounds good. We'll see what happens! I keep wondering if this would have happened if I hadn't had such a lengthy hiatus in playing instruments (about 15 years!), that maybe my muscles, etc would have gotten used to the strain by now.
Either way, it's completely worth it. I can't imagine my life without playing music, regardless my ability or talent! :o

mds725
03-03-2013, 05:40 PM
Thanks for all the responses, folks! It's my right strumming elbow, to be precise. Left one is just fine. Playing uke has also apparently accelerated the deterioration of my right shoulder. It's been dislocated numerous times over the years, but now I can really feel it moving around in the socket. Doc said there's nothing to do about that now!
I just turned 37, but this stuff makes me feel much older!
I'll definitely try the glucosamine. That sounds good. We'll see what happens! I keep wondering if this would have happened if I hadn't had such a lengthy hiatus in playing instruments (about 15 years!), that maybe my muscles, etc would have gotten used to the strain by now.
Either way, it's completely worth it. I can't imagine my life without playing music, regardless my ability or talent! :o

Physical therapy may help with your shoulder. The shoulder joint is an odd joint that is held together by tenons and muscles. If you strengthen the muscles (under the supervision of a qualified physical therapist), your shoulder might improve. My mother has labrum issues in her shoulder, and since it's already been surgically repaired once and she's in her 80s, her doctor recommended physical therapy, which seems to be helping. Good luck!

hawaii 50
03-03-2013, 06:38 PM
Physical therapy may help with your shoulder. The shoulder joint is an odd joint that is held together by tenons and muscles. If you strengthen the muscles (under the supervision of a qualified physical therapist), your shoulder might improve. My mother has labrum issues in her shoulder, and since it's already been surgically repaired once and she's in her 80s, her doctor recommended physical therapy, which seems to be helping. Good luck!


Hey Mark my Mom had a massive rotator cup surgery and she also in her 80's our old ladies pretty tough..she still doing therpy

good_uke_boy
03-04-2013, 02:33 AM
Daily use of this gadget:
http://info.thera-bandacademy.com/flexbarelbow
Got me back on the tennis court after a severe case of tennis elbow. Highly recommended, do-it-yourself solution.

good_uke_boy
03-04-2013, 02:46 AM
Daily use of this gadget:
http://info.thera-bandacademy.com/flexbarelbow
Got me back on the tennis court after a severe case of tennis elbow. Highly recommended, do-it-yourself solution.

Three other things:
(1) These devices are available on Amazon (search for Thera-Band Flexbar);
(2) I started with the Green one (Medium Resistance), and worked my way up to the Blue (Heavy Resistance); and
(3) I'm not entirely pain free, but I'm back on the court.

Hope this helps.

Dave-0
03-04-2013, 06:15 AM
Daily use of this gadget:
http://info.thera-bandacademy.com/flexbarelbow
Got me back on the tennis court after a severe case of tennis elbow. Highly recommended, do-it-yourself solution.

This device HAS been shown to help lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)....but......you have to use it correctly. There are essentially 2 kinds of exercise - eccentric and concentric. The device in question helps tennis elbow with eccentric contraction and not the other.

Know that this is likely an overuse type of injury and until you do something for the pain (take the glucosamine, use the exerciser, use ice or heat, massage the area, adjust your elbow or wrist angle when playing, use a strap to hold the uke, use a strap on your elbow, limit playing time, stretch etc etc) nothing is likely to change. The people that get better consistantly and regularly do something for the pain instead of ignoring it. And even then, in my experience working with people with just this sort of injury for the past 15 years, the pain can come back if your forget to pay attention to what caused the pain in the first place and/or ignore it when it does return.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
03-04-2013, 07:44 AM
What an interesting and informative thread about ukulele elbow!

Fortunately, i don't think I have it yet. It (meaning tendonitis) usually comes on after I've done
some vine clipping (Ivy, Morning Glory, etc) for an extended amount of time. :) I overdo it by
trying to get all of it done in one day... cuz I hate yard work!!

So I suffer the tendonitis for about a week, sometimes longer, but it does not seem to be aggravated
by my uke playing.

I don't generally move my strumming elbow much. If any of you find that you're moving your strumming
arm a lot (at the elbow), try watching others as they strum, esp seasoned uke players.

If you work at it I believe you can develop a more relaxed way of strumming mostly with wrist action
instead of forearm action. By wrist action I mean like shaking water off your hands when you don't have a towel! :)
Convert that motion to your uke strings and see what happens! (if your uke gets wet, towel off first :) )

Thanks to every contributor for sharing their thoughts and expertise, and their personal experiences. Makes UU a very welcome and personal place to get info and enjoy getting to know one another.

keep uke'in' everyone :),

costaricadave
03-04-2013, 07:58 AM
I have some problems with my wrist. Ice helps sometimes...

Ben_H
03-04-2013, 08:27 AM
OK, so here's my tuppence.

I had this problem last year. I see a physio a couple of times a year for disc problems so after suffering with "tennis elbow" for a few months I went to see him and mentioned the elbow.

In MY case it was down to several things. I was sitting really badly when playing soprano which I hadn't realised. Think Carlos Santana mid solo and you probably wouldn't be too far off. This was exacerbating an existing problem where I had compressed nerves in my neck on my right, strumming side. These nerves run all the way down the arm and when you strum, even "wrist strumming", the nerve apparently rubs against the elbow joint which is why you can get localised pain there.

Now the interesting bit is that my physio had recently had a few other people in with a similar problem who were also uke players but I was the only one who took his uke along. He got me to play it for him, spotted Carlos and we then worked out a couple of positions where I could hold the uke with putting too much strain on my neck. He also said that it's worse with sopranos as you often end up hunched over the instrument and tensed up too.

Some neck stretches and exercises combined with better posture have improved my situation. I still get it from time to time but I know when i've been sitting badly.

One other thing is that he also spotted I was looking down at the fretboard a lot or at music on a table, causing something similar to the new modern syndrome of "Smartphone Neck". Using a music stand and trying not to look at the fretboard has also helped.

I realise this may not work for everyone and that some may be sceptical but hey, it worked for me.

It also led to my physio buying himself a more ergonomically friendly baritone. :)

Uncle Rod Higuchi
03-04-2013, 09:35 AM
For added encouragement and relational support, please feel free to access the Ukulele Boot Camp in my signature below to assist in gaining personal experience with chord changing without looking at your chord-forming hand and fingers! :) That's the goal as one progresses from beginner to intermediate and advanced :) it's a matter of familiarity which is borne of much practice :)

As practice makes 'permanent', the sooner one developes the habit of forming and changing chords without looking, the sooner one will free himself (or herself... sorry) from the 'Smartphone neck' syndrome :)

keep uke'in',

OldePhart
03-04-2013, 12:08 PM
@Ben_H - bending over to play a soprano seems counter-intuitive to me - are you resting it on your leg or something? For me, pretty much anything smaller than a guitar or a baritone gets held up - only guitars and baritone ukes rest on my leg and not always then...

Harold O.
03-04-2013, 01:33 PM
I had pain in the left (fretting) elbow when I first started getting used to playing. What happened was I had been concentrating on the strings and doing whatever I could to "brute force" the issue. When the elbow starting hurting, I did a quick analysis and realized that I was unnecessarily tightening my left forearm. I was working so hard on finger position that I forgot to relax and let the thing play itself.

This is a bit like when you cross the "I know the chords but just can't make them work together" barrier. The key then is to just hit them or miss them but keep playing the song and enjoying yourself. In my case, knowing I was working too hard didn't surprise me at all.

hawaii 50
03-04-2013, 03:00 PM
Yes, I have dealt with tennis/golf elbow (don't play either) as well as some left shoulder problems. Some of it stemmed from doing push ups with my elbows out at the shoulders. I now keep the shoulders tucked in against my sides. We also had a horrific winter a few years back and snow shoveling added to the problem and caused problems in the right elbow as well. I was not a happy camper. Rest is number one on the list. I had some success with these 2 products. BandIT (http://www.amazon.com/Pro-Band-Sports-ABI00-Therapeutic/dp/B000FML7SW/ref=sr_1_3?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1362328268&sr=1-3&keywords=tennis+elbow+brace) when I had to cut the lawn, etc. and Futuro Sport Tennis Elbow Support (http://www.amazon.com/Futuro-Sport-Tennis-Support-Adjustable/dp/B0057D87SW/ref=sr_1_8?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1362328502&sr=1-8&keywords=tennis+elbow+brace) when I slept and when the right elbow hurt when I had to play. Both have reduced to almost nothing. (The left shoulder and elbow ache a bit now and then, more so when I'm not playing and fortunately, nothing like it had been. I could hardly press down on a counter top with a sponge to wipe up a spill.) WHEW!



I am going to try using the tennis elbow support when I go to sleep and see if it helps..thanks for the advice

Dave-0
03-04-2013, 05:34 PM
Make sure you place it in the EXACT right location or it will be of limited benefit.

Ben_H
03-04-2013, 07:41 PM
@Ben_H - bending over to play a soprano seems counter-intuitive to me - are you resting it on your leg or something? For me, pretty much anything smaller than a guitar or a baritone gets held up - only guitars and baritone ukes rest on my leg and not always then...


Sorry, think more of cramping your shoulders and hunching yourself round the uke rather than over the uke. Then compounding it by dropping your head forward to see the fretboard, even twisting nexk to see the top end of the fretboard.

You want a nice open shouldered position if possible.

I was at Ukes for Unicef on Saturday and was fascinated to watch how contorted some of the people standing on stage were. I'm sure they had no idea of their posture when playing. especially with strapless ukes.

OldePhart
03-05-2013, 07:22 AM
Sorry, think more of cramping your shoulders and hunching yourself round the uke rather than over the uke. Then compounding it by dropping your head forward to see the fretboard, even twisting nexk to see the top end of the fretboard.

You want a nice open shouldered position if possible.

I was at Ukes for Unicef on Saturday and was fascinated to watch how contorted some of the people standing on stage were. I'm sure they had no idea of their posture when playing. especially with strapless ukes.

Ahh...I see. Usually with a soprano I'm flopped back in my chair letting my belly do what it was designed for... :biglaugh:

John