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View Full Version : Bummer: Developing carpal tunnel symptoms with my first uke



haertig
06-30-2014, 05:41 AM
I've only had my uke for maybe three weeks now, so it is not the cause of this (possibly) developing carpal tunnel thing, but it could have aggrevated an underlying condition that I didn't know about.

I'm a little bummed right now, but I'll back off the uke playing a bit and see what happens (my practice has only been about 30 minutes per day, so I've not really been overdoing it at all). I'm wearing a wrist brace at the moment (fretting hand). No pain or numbness, which are common symptoms of carpal tunnel, just a feeling of degrading fine motion and grasp, and "things not feeling right". This is also a common symptom of the problem.

I can continue practicing strumming with my other hand, learning theory, and watching instructional videos, so that is the plan at the moment. Maybe small doses of fretting practice infrequently.

Vagrant
06-30-2014, 06:16 AM
Sorry to hear that, here's hoping it turns out to be lesser than you fear and you get to continue. A few years back I had a problem with my fingers, and was told I had arthritis that would get worse and worse (bad news for an artist who makes tiny delicate things).

In the end it turned out to be chilblains! The stress of not being able to use my hands properly had caused my body to over-react to them and locked my fingers up incredibly painfully.

Take some time out, and try not to stress... I'm sure you'll be back fretting again in no time (there's always the stick-dulcimer, that's nowhere near as heavy on the fretting hand!)

SailingUke
06-30-2014, 06:17 AM
It is called a repetitive motion injury for a reason, take breaks and stretch before, during and after playing.
Do some research on ukulele ergonomics, I know several teachers who give tips on how to not injure yourself while playing.

Teek
06-30-2014, 07:22 AM
New uke + new player = you may be pressing too hard on the strings to get clean notes. Press closer to the metal and find out how little pressure you can apply and still get a clean sound.

Also the action may be high on your uke which is common. It should be about 1mm from top of the actual metal fret wire to the bottom of the string on the first fret and maybe 2.5 - 3mm at the 12th. The saddle is probably too high and often the nut is not grooved deep enough. Action that is too high can cause the notes to go sharp up the neck and make fretting harder, too low can cause buzzing when strings are fretted and loss of volume.

Also in your playing position, try angling the headstock up and out from your body, it will make for less bend in your wrist which could also be causing or adding to the stress. And use one of those blue peas ice packs on your wrist for about 10 minutes after you play until you get it figured out.

I had a couple of years where I could hardly ever play due to repetitive strain from my job: keyboarding and mousing on a computer for 8 hours a day for an ex exec who was pretty illiterate and had to dictate all his endless email co9rrespondence. Then I came home and did my own work. By the time I was typing with my thumbs I had to quit the job but a lot of the damage is still there even 2 1/2 years later.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 08:14 AM
I've only had my uke for maybe three weeks now, so it is not the cause of this (possibly) developing carpal tunnel thing, but it could have aggrevated an underlying condition that I didn't know about.

I'm a little bummed right now, but I'll back off the uke playing a bit and see what happens (my practice has only been about 30 minutes per day, so I've not really been overdoing it at all). I'm wearing a wrist brace at the moment (fretting hand). No pain or numbness, which are common symptoms of carpal tunnel, just a feeling of degrading fine motion and grasp, and "things not feeling right". This is also a common symptom of the problem.

I can continue practicing strumming with my other hand, learning theory, and watching instructional videos, so that is the plan at the moment. Maybe small doses of fretting practice infrequently.


sorry to hear. I broke my right hand pointer finger as a kid and never went to the doctor i can only bend it half way and makes playing
difficult and sometimes painful. Surgery can help but it is painful my girlfriends mechanic father had it bad on both hands and had the surgery
its not 100 % after but greatly improved his performance. I hope you can work through it.

peaceweaver3
06-30-2014, 09:10 AM
It is called a repetitive motion injury for a reason, take breaks and stretch before, during and after playing.
Do some research on ukulele ergonomics, I know several teachers who give tips on how to not injure yourself while playing.

Agree. Also, 30 mins of practice is not unreasonable in a day, but may be huge overkill at one time at an early stage. Hope all goes well for you!

PhilUSAFRet
06-30-2014, 09:28 AM
How much time do you spend on a keyboard? Cell phone? Paper shuffling? Playing uke may be "the straw that broke the camel's back" so to speak. You must properly heal this ailment properly or you could suffer permanent damage.

OldePhart
06-30-2014, 12:22 PM
Make sure the uke is set up well so it's not hard to fret. Then, play this little game with yourself...see how little pressure you can apply when fretting and still get clean notes/chords. You'll be surprised how little pressure it takes. This will also make you a better player as you will be less likely to pull notes out of tune.

Camsuke
06-30-2014, 12:55 PM
I was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the late 70s. I had the CT decompression procedure (day surgery) and haven't had a problem since.

PhilUSAFRet
06-30-2014, 02:20 PM
Make sure the uke is set up well so it's not hard to fret. Then, play this little game with yourself...see how little pressure you can apply when fretting and still get clean notes/chords. You'll be surprised how little pressure it takes. This will also make you a better player as you will be less likely to pull notes out of tune.

Excellent point. Many beginners press too hard. Sometimes when playing in a group, I fail to focus on my technique. When my fingers start to hurt, I know I've been pressing on the strings too hard and lighten up.

peejay52
07-05-2014, 08:32 AM
Like camsuke ive had the procedure in both wrists...and no recurrance after 20 years.....see your doc and have the tests to be sure it is carpal tunnel.....its a simple test and takes 20 mins at most.....if its carpal tunnel get the op....youll be glad as it wont go away and will drive you nuts....good luck