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pandabean
04-22-2013, 05:29 PM
I've been playing for about four months now, but a couple of weeks ago, I started to develop a pain in my left wrist (by my thumb). I am trying to determine what may have caused it and what would be my best course of action. I'm paranoid that playing might make the problem worse, but I really want to play!

Here are a couple of my theories:

I am holding the ukulele incorrectly and am bending my wrist too much.
I started playing the soprano ukulele last month. The pain started about two weeks ago. Maybe the fretboard is too small and I have to strain my fingers too much?
I bought a ukulele solo book about the same time I started playing the soprano and practiced for a couple of hours per day for several days. Maybe I just overdid it?


Last week, I decided to take about two days off to let my wrist heal. I took some ibuprofen and massaged my wrist with icy hot. I started to feel a little better, but as soon as I started playing, I could feel the tightness in my wrist and fingers again. I don't really feel the pain until I stop playing though.

Has anyone else had this issue? Do I need to just stop playing until my wrist completely heals? I hope it's not a matter of weeks or months. :( Do I need to do wrist strengthening exercises? The problem is, I can't tell whether it's just a matter of needing to get used to playing the ukulele (by strengthening my fingers/wrist) or whether I'm actually doing something that is causing damage to my hands.

Your thoughts are much appreciated!

mm stan
04-22-2013, 05:39 PM
Aloha Caroline,
We are not doctors...and it would be irresponsible for us to give you advice..but always if you have pain, rest and Ice and elavation...if it persists for more than 5 days go see your
physician.....please do not try to work the pain the old way as you may further injury yourself...always good to have it checked out....wish it gets better and let us know how it
turns out even if you need to go to the doctors...Good Luck girl :)

Ladyluke
04-22-2013, 06:44 PM
Indeed we are no doctors and online even docs cannot make a proper assessment ;)

No matter what will happen and how it heals, to prevent problems in the future, make sure you have no unnecessary tension in you arm, hand, wrist and fingers. I do not know the specifics for ukulele myself since I am pretty new to it, but based on my experience with and what teachers have taught me over the years for several other instruments, tension on places and at moments where it is not supposed to happen hampers playing and can cause pain, muscle and nerve damage over time. One of my teachers is very strict in this and does not allow me to play when I have pain in hands, arms or shoulders.

Switching between instruments of diffent sizes may need an adjustment in how you hold the instrument. Go slow en feel if you tense up somewhere when playing. And yes, you may need to consult someone who is knowledgable in how to hold the ukrs, aka, find a teacher (whispers).

NG

salukulady
04-22-2013, 07:14 PM
I'm a Massage Therapist. As a Therapist I have the same issues from overworking parts of my hands, wrists and arms. R.I.C.E., rest, ice, compression and elevation is all you got. Stop playing, the inflammation has to heal before you can make anything stronger. How you are holding the uke is probably the problem, but only a teacher like Aldrine could really assess it after watching you play. As stated above, we are not doctors, we don't know crap. But as a Massage Therapist, I know you will not make it any worse by using RICE. Any compression or massage you apply to the affected area can only encourage circulation thereby helping your body to heal. Just don't do any self massage that hurts.

And see your doctor.

dalamaricus
04-22-2013, 09:43 PM
I started playing a few months ago too. My own personal non-medical-qualified experience was that I got left thumb joint pain (probably not the same as your pain) from barre chords. Taking things slower has helped. I do think my hand is slowly getting stronger, and now I also stop playing the harder chords if I start feeling pain. I haven't done any special exercises, just continuing to play at a slower pace.

Hochapeafarm
04-22-2013, 10:38 PM
The timing of this thread is spot-on for me -- I, too, get pain in my left wrist (my fretting hand), but I have noticed it only when (and after) playing my soprano uke -- oddly enough, my tenor uke doesn't bother me at all in this capacity. I was actually just telling another uke'er today about this pain in my left wrist with my soprano. As it turns out, I have only recently added my lil' soprano uke to my collection about a month or so ago -- first time in my 1.5 years of playing uke that I played the soprano size. Since the timing of the pain coordinates with playing my soprano, I do have to wonder if it's just the soprano size that bothers me...it sure seems to appear that way, as again, my tenor does not hurt my wrist. I have actually just purchased a beautiful new curly mango concert uke...and I am really, REALLY hoping the concert size won't bother my wrist. I will be very bummed out if that is the case.

Nickie
04-23-2013, 01:17 PM
I've been there...do you stretch your hands/fingers before and after playing? A nice soak in hot water and epsom salts helps too...and take breaks...two hours playing is a long time, for anyone, let alone a novice...my Kala hurt my hand when I first got it because the neck is larger than my first uke was...try different ukes with different neck sizes...lots of them are made for men's hands, not ours...also our fingers tend to be shorter, and there is more difference in length between frets, the larger the size of your uke...After trying the different sizes, I've found the only one that fits me is the concert...but we're all different...remember to stop playing BEFORE your hand hurts...
(PS, I'm a nurse)

janeray1940
04-23-2013, 01:37 PM
Nobody can diagnose your pain except for a doctor, but - wrist pain near the thumb is exactly how I would describe my right-hand tendinitis (which my doctor believes is from making my living using a computer for 30+ years, NOT from uke playing!). Best remedy I've found is to use a wrist brace (http://www.drugstore.com/medicine-and-health/wrist-and-hand/qxg184148-0) - I don't use it while I play, but I keep it on overnight and it seems to keep the pain from acting up.

airmanfoote
04-23-2013, 02:13 PM
I hope you haven't hurt yourself too badly and get everything straightened out. I would just like to second the advice of stretching/warming up your wrists and fingers everyday before you play. Also, in the beginning, I had some slight wrist pain coming on so I went back to the beginner videos on How To Hold the Uke and reheard Aldrine say; "Never let your left hand support the neck." Don't squeeze! That was my problem. ;)

Take a break, reevaluate your playing, and if pain persists go see that Doc! Take care! :)

OldePhart
04-23-2013, 02:30 PM
This is a very basic rule of thumb and vast oversimplification from someone entirely and thoroughly unqualified to give medical advice :)

1) Dull, achy pain that gradually becomes less noticeable over a period of a few days or weeks - your lazy muscles are protesting being stretched more than usual. Tell them to shut up and they'll get over it pretty quickly.

2) Sharp, deep, stabbing pains - no matter how short in duration - or lingering burning sensation feeling as if you are sunburnt from the inside out - and especially if getting worse instead of better with continued play over a period of a few days - potentially permanent and cumulative nerve or other damage - stop whatever you're doing until you consult a doctor.

Again, I'm not a doc nor do I play one on TV so if there is any doubt see a doctor, and ask for a referral to a sports-medicine specialist if he or she doesn't seem worried about condition #2, above.

John

pandabean
04-23-2013, 02:39 PM
Thanks everyone for sharing your experience and your thoughts! I was just curious to know if anyone else (especially new people) had issues with their thumb/wrist.

I've already noticed my wrist feeling better after just a one day break. I think I may have been overzealous the first time around and didn't give my wrist enough time to heal before I started playing again. This time, I'm going to continue resting my fret hand (applying the R.I.C.E. technique) and then go see a doctor for a real diagnosis if the pain persists. :)

pandabean
04-23-2013, 02:42 PM
I started playing a few months ago too. My own personal non-medical-qualified experience was that I got left thumb joint pain (probably not the same as your pain) from barre chords. Taking things slower has helped. I do think my hand is slowly getting stronger, and now I also stop playing the harder chords if I start feeling pain. I haven't done any special exercises, just continuing to play at a slower pace.

The pain I experienced was around the thumb joint area as well. Good idea playing at a slower pace! I'm going to start taking more breaks when playing.

pandabean
04-23-2013, 02:48 PM
The timing of this thread is spot-on for me -- I, too, get pain in my left wrist (my fretting hand), but I have noticed it only when (and after) playing my soprano uke -- oddly enough, my tenor uke doesn't bother me at all in this capacity. I was actually just telling another uke'er today about this pain in my left wrist with my soprano. As it turns out, I have only recently added my lil' soprano uke to my collection about a month or so ago -- first time in my 1.5 years of playing uke that I played the soprano size. Since the timing of the pain coordinates with playing my soprano, I do have to wonder if it's just the soprano size that bothers me...it sure seems to appear that way, as again, my tenor does not hurt my wrist. I have actually just purchased a beautiful new curly mango concert uke...and I am really, REALLY hoping the concert size won't bother my wrist. I will be very bummed out if that is the case.

Oh wow, that's interesting to know that someone else experienced pain after they started playing the soprano. I played my concert uke for three months before I bought the soprano and didn't have any issues. I guess everyone's hands are different and there's a certain ukulele size that works best for them. I hope it works out with your mango uke! :)

pandabean
04-23-2013, 02:50 PM
This is a very basic rule of thumb and vast oversimplification from someone entirely and thoroughly unqualified to give medical advice :)

1) Dull, achy pain that gradually becomes less noticeable over a period of a few days or weeks - your lazy muscles are protesting being stretched more than usual. Tell them to shut up and they'll get over it pretty quickly.

2) Sharp, deep, stabbing pains - no matter how short in duration - or lingering burning sensation feeling as if you are sunburnt from the inside out - and especially if getting worse instead of better with continued play over a period of a few days - potentially permanent and cumulative nerve or other damage - stop whatever you're doing until you consult a doctor.

Again, I'm not a doc nor do I play one on TV so if there is any doubt see a doctor, and ask for a referral to a sports-medicine specialist if he or she doesn't seem worried about condition #2, above.

John

LOL - thanks for the tips! :)

Skinny Money McGee
04-23-2013, 04:16 PM
Again, I'm not a doc nor do I play one on TV so if there is any doubt see a doctor, and ask for a referral to a sports-medicine specialist if he or she doesn't seem worried about condition #2, above.

John


But I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night


sorry, couldn't resist

Appalachian picker
04-23-2013, 06:03 PM
I'm an Occupational Therapist and work daily with people suffering from all manner of ailments including various forms of tendonitis, tendonopathies, nerve impingements, work related musculoskeletal disorders and just pain ol' pain of unknown origin.

I can't emphasis a couple of points enough:
1. Do not work through pain....don't ignore it or it very well could become serious.
2. If you cannot manage it yourself, consult your healthcare provider without delay.

I think you've gotten some very useful advice here, but understand that what you have could be similar or very dissimilar from what others experience. Therefore advice from others should be carefully considered. For instance RICE is opposite from Epson salts warm water soaks. While some might advocate heat, in an inflammatory situation, heat might actually exacerbate the problem. If no true inflammation exists, then either heat or ice, or both might help to resolve your problem.

See how complicated this quickly becomes and why proper medical care may be warranted?

I think that rest and taking breaks, respecting your pain and avoiding irritating activities (uke or non-uke related) are all important and a good first step toward relieving your pain.