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Old 06-04-2012, 11:47 AM   #1
Music MadMan
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Need Help: Chronic Pain and Guitar

Edit: 10/26/2012-

So I'm still alive. The pain has gotten worse, I having very little sleep now due to the back pain and I haven't been able to play as I used to. I'm making an effort, but I think I'll have to make peace with my pain eventually if this doesn't get any better. Try to go to pain management and the sort. This kills me and I'm in severe depression. I really need a hug right now and/or support. Yeah?

Hello.

I've been lurking on this website pretty much since I started playing guitar around 4 years ago and it has helped me in ton of ways, technically and musically, in the guitar. During the first year of playing I pretty much played guitar all the time. It has and is my passion. From there I just been listening and playing awesome music.

After the first year, following a series of events, I started having this aching back pain. It wasn't much, and I still could play for hours without too much of a problem. But by the end of the session my back was burning and I had to rest. From there, I still been trying to aim for those Steve Vai-like practice session, trying to achieve great technique to be able to perform Guitar instrumetals ala Steve vai, Satch, Gilbert, etc. But it was getting a bit more and more difficult to play.

From there, the pain has only escalated, even If I've tried absolubtly everything to perfect my sitting position while playing and not employing too much strenght on the fingers to not form muscle tension. A little bit later, the pain evolved to being there 24/7, all the time: Standing, sitting, sleeping.

Been taking all kinds of medicine you could imagine, visited all kinds of doctors, to no avail. Even then, I still been trying to remain playing, attending music classes, but after around the 3rd year playing... It has been really hard to find the fun in playing...

At this point, If I start to play, the pain inmediatly wakes up and just starts munching away my energy. At that point I could only play an hour until the pain was unbearable. I asked my music teachers, My guitar teacher especially, for help. They told me to try doing my practice sessions in bits: 15 min practice, with 5 min breaks.

I tried it but after the 3rd section I was just tired.

On my 4th year playing, I pretty much stopped playing for 6 months, hoping that it would let my back rest a bit, while still looking for ways to help the pain. During those months, I've been playing on and off, thinking, "Maybe I'll be able to play"... Remember that I had my pain as soon as I start playing and leave the guitar in its stand. Occasionally, I would try to fight through the pain, and try to have some fun playing a song or two.. And I would, but after playing I would just drop tears from the pain.


Now, in the present, with the pain worsened, I had been recently inspired listening to my favorite guitarist, Joe Satriani, to pick up the guitar again seriously, forgetting the back pain. Im trying to be optimistic and trying to do what makes me happy... But sometimes its just heartbreaking and depressing as ****. Not been able to do what you love because of a physical impediment. Ugh.

So. Hopefully I didn't bore you with my story, and I would like to ask you guys if you had, by any chance, any kind of tips related to playing guitar with back pain. Any kind of tendency that has been proven to work or whatever. I'd really, really, really appreciate it.

(I guess I will do a TL;DR)

TL;DR: I've been having Chronic back pain for 3 years and counting and I have been forced to stop playing the guitar, which is the one thing I love and is my passion. I tried lots of stuff to be able to play guitar without breaking from the pain but, so far, it's been really hard, physically and emotionally. I appreciate any and all kinds of help. Even a simple "Hang in there", would be great for me
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Last edited by Music MadMan : 10-26-2012 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:00 PM   #2
ZipperKink
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Man that sucks!!
I cant even imagine how hard and frustrating that can be. HORRIBLE situation...
But don't give up if it is your passion! Seriously HANG IN THERE man! I hope that you'll get better!
All the best!
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:05 PM   #3
Music MadMan
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Originally Posted by ZipperKink
Man that sucks!!
I cant even imagine how hard and frustrating that can be. HORRIBLE situation...
But don't give up if it is your passion! Seriously HANG IN THERE man! I hope that you'll get better!
All the best!


Thanks a lot man Really appreciate it.
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:11 PM   #4
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Keep looking for doctors, man. There's gotta be a doctor or two that'll know what's up and can help you. It's obvious from your 1st year in pain that you need some help. Look for some top doctors, ask the hospital for help.
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:15 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Lavatain
Keep looking for doctors, man. There's gotta be a doctor or two that'll know what's up and can help you. It's obvious from your 1st year in pain that you need some help. Look for some top doctors, ask the hospital for help.


I have, I have. Right now I'm in treatment with Vitamin D, since I had some vitamin D deficiency. Doctors seem to think that that was definitly the reason for the pain, but I'm reaching the last week of treatment and I haven't felt any change at all. If the vitamin D wasn't the factor, then a lot more doctor visits will be in the future
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:28 AM   #6
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Bump.. =\
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:36 AM   #7
cemges
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What was it, a physical rehabilitation could help you but, I wonder why you sit while playing? I mean, you can try to play always standing, maybe. Btw what kinda guitar you have? Get a light weight comfortable guitar with a nice neck that will fit your hand perfectly, plus use a heavy leather strap. You know, also you can get a guitar seat if you want... Btw you talk about D vitamin, what if you take a long vacation and get enough sunshine for that? You know, get credit, or sell something, go for a 1 month vacation, see the sunhine ( not seeing enough sun is a reson for D vitamin deficiency) , and seriously drink milk.


Oh oh oh!!! Another idea, body building ? Under control of a trainer there! Would be helpful!
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:45 AM   #8
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^^^ Yeah, try standing.

I'm sure you've seen a doctor for proper advice. I've had issues with chronic back pain as well, if it ever starts creeping I just park my car further away from work so I end up walking 40 or so minutes a day.
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:37 AM   #9
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Buy this book, i bet you my Jem it will help.

If it doesn't you can come back and yell at me for wasting 20 dollars.
But knowing pain myself and many others with pain that have found it incredibly useful i swear by it:

http://www.triggerpointbook.com/

You already invested many hours , time and money in trying to find a solution, worst thing that could happen is that it doesnt help as much as you would like, but i have hopes it will cure you completely..
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:11 AM   #10
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If your back pain is strongly associated with playing the guitar, I would consider working with an Alexander Technique practitioner. The Alexander Technique is all about learning to recognize the ways that your body is holding tension so you can release them. It turns out that we're really bad judges of our own habitual kinesthetics - and somebody experienced in this can help you discover things about your posture/tension that could be causing your pain.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:12 PM   #11
Music MadMan
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Unfortunatly, Standing really doesn't work. If anything it makes a bit worse, that's why I usually go for sitting. I even tried playing while lying down in bed but it was a failure :P

As for the vitamin D, I'm taking huge bombs of 50k units of Vitamin D every week for 9 weeks now, which are suppoused to substitute the vitamin D that would be gained from diet or sunshine, so it shouldn't be a problem. Doctor said that, if the Vit. D levels don't change, their might be some problems with the intestine and the way its NOT absorbing the Vitamin D.

As for the pain, It's not really related strictly with the guitar. As in, my back still hurts if I'm not playing, but that pain makes it horrible for practice.

Right now I guess I can try that book, which, by the looks of it, it might be worth a shot. Thanks a bunch for the input, guys.

EDIT: Forgot to say that I also went to a rehab gym for around a solid 6 months, but, after a while, I really didn't notice any change at all. My back was still hurting after the session =\
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Last edited by Music MadMan : 06-06-2012 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:39 PM   #12
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You really do like a classic candidate for the Alexander Technique.
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Old 06-06-2012, 01:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Music MadMan
Unfortunatly, Standing really doesn't work. If anything it makes a bit worse, that's why I usually go for sitting. I even tried playing while lying down in bed but it was a failure :P

As for the vitamin D, I'm taking huge bombs of 50k units of Vitamin D every week for 9 weeks now, which are suppoused to substitute the vitamin D that would be gained from diet or sunshine, so it shouldn't be a problem. Doctor said that, if the Vit. D levels don't change, their might be some problems with the intestine and the way its NOT absorbing the Vitamin D.

As for the pain, It's not really related strictly with the guitar. As in, my back still hurts if I'm not playing, but that pain makes it horrible for practice.

Right now I guess I can try that book, which, by the looks of it, it might be worth a shot. Thanks a bunch for the input, guys.

EDIT: Forgot to say that I also went to a rehab gym for around a solid 6 months, but, after a while, I really didn't notice any change at all. My back was still hurting after the session =\


By all means tackle it from any way possible, nutritionally, mentally, physically, Hotspur's suggestion seems like a great idea to prevent any injury from ever happening again -indeed we are not so bright, we cant even walk or type on a keyboard without getting injured, yet we want to colonize space-

When you start working with that book, please let me know , so far it has always helped everyone i know in some way.. yours truly included.

Respect on your attitude, i can only imagine how friggin hard it has been to tame your mind through the process, you already know it, but again as a reminder, hang in there a little more, the solution and the healing process might be just at the turn of the next corner, and i have a feeling it might be sooner than you think .

Best wishes

Last edited by Slashiepie : 06-06-2012 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:04 PM   #14
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That really sucks man I'm so sorry to hear that. I would be crushed if I couldn't play. My only suggestion would be have you tried a back brace? I don't really know if it would help but it's just an idea.
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:55 PM   #15
Music MadMan
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@Salshiepie: Thanks for your kind words and your help, It really helps a lot ^^ Makes it a lot more bearable thinking there are people there to help you out And indeed I'll let you know when I get around to that book.

@Rush: Thanks for your concern bro, I haven't thought of back bracers since no doctor has mentioned it, but it might be worth a shot to mention it next time I go to the doctors.

Thanks again for being so awesome you guys. You have no idea how much I appreciate the help.

I was wondering if you guys had any kind of short practice exercises I could maybe try out so that my fingers don't rust off completely from the lack of playing, that really concerns me =\
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Old 06-07-2012, 02:36 AM   #16
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I guess you could run through your scales and make sure you don't lose your theory, their short and sweet but I must admit their not the most fun to play. Just playing some short songs can be fun if you have one that is mostly chords and one that has some more complicated riffs.
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Old 06-07-2012, 04:15 AM   #17
20Tigers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slashiepie
Buy this book, i bet you my Jem it will help.

If it doesn't you can come back and yell at me for wasting 20 dollars.
But knowing pain myself and many others with pain that have found it incredibly useful i swear by it:

http://www.triggerpointbook.com/

You already invested many hours , time and money in trying to find a solution, worst thing that could happen is that it doesnt help as much as you would like, but i have hopes it will cure you completely..

Nah man - If it doesn't help he won't come back and yell at you for wasting $20. He will be back for that Jem you just wagered.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:13 PM   #18
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Nah man - If it doesn't help he won't come back and yell at you for wasting $20. He will be back for that Jem you just wagered.


for the first time in my life i found myself thinking: thanks god for Chinese guitar piracy and "prestige floral pattern limited edition Steve Vai Signature Jems" for only 120$ + shipping costs.

TS, jk! don't worry im confident it will help you!

For the time being you could try practicing picking only, if that hurts you could try practicing your left hand only, if that hurts too you could buy a cheap guitar neck cut it in half and practice trills with it.

Mental practice also helps solidify learning. Just imagine yourself playing a song or melody as vivid as you can, picturing the notes on the neck, exactly where they are , and how they sound.

You can also use your practice time to do some ear training , transcribing and increasing your music theory knowledge.

Best wishes!

Last edited by Slashiepie : 06-07-2012 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 06-07-2012, 05:14 PM   #19
Mephaphil
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Make them find out what the cause of the back pain is.

Get a referral to pain management.

If an activity is causing you pain, that activity should be stopped.

I don't know what your condition is, but speak to your Doctor. If it is something muscular and not operable (for example) pain management would probably enable you to live a normal life.

Speak to them, don't take no for an answer.
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Old 06-07-2012, 06:34 PM   #20
Music MadMan
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@Slashiepie: Thanks bro! Yeah I would think it would be a good idea to do music theory, stuff that isn't so physical, for a while. But, still, music theory without playing music is kinda meh ;P But better than nothing indeed.

@Mephaphil: Trust me, we have been looking at it. As of now, there is various elements that seem to be related to the pain:
1) Low Vitamin D, which causes weakening of bone and muscle (Osteomalasia). This is suppoused to be treated with the pills Im taking.

2) Straight Back Syndrome: For some reason, my back is 100% straight, without any of its natural curves that it should have, which causes back pain. I went to chiropractors for this, went for a few months, but, in the end, it really didn't help outside of temporary relief (20mins tops).

3) Hypermobility: It seems that my articulations strech far more than they normally should, which can ALSO cause back pain. For me, as a guitarist, I also experienced some wrist pain but I suspected it was because of this aswell.

For now, My doctors are seeking the Vitamin D approach, and in a few days I'll find out my Vit D levels and see if they have stabilized and see from there. But man I wanna play so bad >_<
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Last edited by Music MadMan : 06-07-2012 at 06:35 PM.
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