Acoustic Guitar Music NEWS FLASH!!! Singer-Songwriter/Multi-Instrumentalist Unveils One-Man-Band ROCK Record on the INTIMATE AUDIO label (CLICK for more Info)
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R.S.I. INFO
Repetitive Strain Injury Information

NEWS FLASH!!! Singer-Songwriter/Multi-Instrumentalist Unveils One-Man-Band ROCK Record on the INTIMATE AUDIO label:

Yep! It finally exists. After four years of slow boiling... Unbelievable! Please check out my brand-new “full band” album of original compositions, MANNERISMS MAGNIFIED (now available through CDBABY.com, iTunes and AMAZON.COM), featuring me performing all the instruments (voices, guitar, bass, real acoustic drums, piano, accordion, and mandolin). I also produced, arranged, engineered, and did all the artwork/illustrations—intimate audio AND visual, lol! (Details can be seen in my YouTube: ALBUM PREVIEW/documentary.) I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Meanwhile, for the curious...

I've had tendinitis (initially diagnosed as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or CTS) in my fretting hand since November 1997. The CTS symptoms (tingling fingers, weakness, etc.) went away after a month or so, but the “tendinitis” (wrist pain) aspect did not (details below). To date, I have pounded Ibuprofen (the “conventional” medical treatment), Niacinamide (vitamin B6, which reportedly helps repair nerve damage), Glucosomine and Chondroitin (both joint-repair related), NONI Juice (gag me!), Garlic (yummy!)... worn a brace/splint, engaged in physical therapy, tried acupuncture numerous times, got voice-dictation software for my computer (typing made it impossible for my injury to heal—duh!), saw a massage therapist a lot, and spent months where I visited the chiropractor on a more-than-weekly basis. (All totaled, can you say $$$$$$$?) Oh yeah, and I guess I should also add that, on a tip given directly to me from Yngwie Malmsteen (advice he got directly from Ritchie Blackmore!), I drank gallons of Gatorade and ate loads of bananas (the high level of potassium those items contain is supposed to help repair/strengthen/lubricate soft tissue, or something)!!! And of course, throughout that entire period, there were numerous instances where I refrained from playing completely (the first stretch—immediately after the injury—was one month). Other times, I could only play “open-position” stuff. To say the least, after years of unaffected playing, that phase of my experience was pretty unpleasant.

(HERE is a link to a July 2006 interview I did with EONS.COM on this subject.)

Today, my condition has improved some (a chipped bone in my left wrist is supposedly preventing it from healing; I'd have to get cut open to have it fixed... sooner or later, I'll do it). I have problems playing barre chords (due to lack of grip strength), bending (primarily bends that involve “pushing” the string skyward), and playing single-note phrases beyond a certain tempo. However, because I am aware of these limitations, I can avoid them by using alternate fingerings for common chords (I use a lot of “thumb voicings” now), using slides instead of bends, and SLOWING DOWN. Since I was kind of out of “chops” mode anyway when the injury developed, this wasn't totally the end of the world, though it still obviously sucked (and continues to). Pick-and-fingers acoustic guitar (arranging/songwriting/accompanying) is pretty much my main thing now. And I'm somewhat content just soloing with my voice (while playing), for the most part.

I attribute the bulk of my improvement to my chiropractor (Dr. Claire O'Neill, of Glen Feliz Chiropractic Associates), massage therapy, using computer voice dictation (Dragon PowerSecretary for Mac), regular exercise, and improved sleep. Obviously some of those treatment steps cost considerable dough.... But out of all of these, let me stress one that is perhaps the easiest (and cheapest) to do after an injury, a major first step towards getting—at least some—healing results fast:

DO NOT TYPE WITH YOUR INJURED HAND!!!!!!! In fact, DO NOT DO ANYTHING YOU DON'T HAVE TO with that hand. Seriously. For most of the first four years of my hand injury, I used the aforementioned “PowerSecretary” voice dictation software all the time. It was slow, and tedious as hell, but necessary. Eventually, the company discontinued updating its software for Mac (the only one for Mac), so when I had to upgrade my computer, I was screwed. Believe it or not, everything I type nowadays is with ONLY my right hand (still quicker than Mac's horrid voice dictation). It is a royal pain, considering I used to be able to type 80-100 words a minute with both hands, but it's WAY BETTER than worsening the problem. (By the way, if you have a Windows setup, voice dictation for that OS is a million times better than Mac's, so you'll be in good shape.) Meanwhile, as for “not doing anything you don't have to with your injured hand,” among other things, I don't put my seatbelt on with my left hand, don't open a door with it, don't pick up groceries... I save it for playing only. I know this probably sounds overly dramatic, but that alone has helped a lot.

By now, you might be wondering just HOW my specific injury developed. I'm glad you asked!

Basically, I trashed my hand doing a Joe Satriani Signature Licks instructional CD, recording much of it without sleeping (extended insomnia stint; soft tissues need sleep to recouperate from overuse). Also, I had previously partially chipped the bone in my left wrist, jumping off my roof a year earlier (long, somewhat funny story). The tendons apparently were rubbing on a microscopic bone abrasion (from it not healing correctly) the entire time, unbeknownst to me... And a few years prior, I was in a couple bad car accidents which resulted in some prolonged back pain. (Supposedly back injuries can have an affect on the way strength is distributed to your limbs, in some cases, forcing the body to overcompenate, leading to the muscles/tendons being overworked.) Further, due to no sleep, I had stopped exercising—the greatest natural way to “warm up.” Because of this, I wasn't in as good physical/playing condition as I was a year or so before. Since I'd never experienced problems playing on no sleep before, I continued to shred my brains out... until the pain came. Contrary to the experience of many, in my case, my technique (playing posture, hand positioning, etc.) was absolutely not the problem.

In closing, let me say that many of the things I've listed above as being “helpful” were things I tried after reading materials on various web sites dedicated to the prevention and treatment of Repetitive Strain Injuries (R.S.I.). Below are links to many that served me well (particularly the “accounts” on the LA RSI Support Group pages).

Please realize that there is no substitute for seeking advice/treatment from a qualified professional. For that reason, I recommend checking out the following links merely to 1) read about other people's personal experiences, and 2) research the various “alternative” sources of treatment that are out there. Please don't assume my inclusion of these links constitutes a 100% endorsement of every word contained within each site. And remember: What works for one individual may not work for another.

Good luck!


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