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Author Topic: Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing  (Read 261 times)

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Offline waxwing

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Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing
« on: April 23, 2022, 01:19:15 AM »
I have just undergone a replacement of the right shoulder and in about 3 months I will have the left one replaced. I was diagnosed with severe Osteo-arthritis of the shoulders over a year ago, but surgery was delayed due to the pandemic. It had been having an impact on my playing for some time. In August 2019 I had a three set solo gig at a winery in Berkeley and practicing at a greater level than usual caused me to have some pain in my right triceps area, which I thought was just from the extra practice. It actually didn’t bother me during the gig (the wonders of adrenaline) but about a year later I did a small construction job for a friend. After a week of work I had unbearable shoulder pain and that led to being diagnosed, with surgery recommended. At that point I could only play a couple of songs at a time without the ache setting in. There was no question in my mind that I wanted the surgery as this seemed the only course that would allow me to perform again. After I saw the CT scan, that seemed to indicate that the bones were not even in contact, I wondered how my shoulders even worked, but the surgeon, a sports shoulder specialist, assured me my musculature was very fit and was doing the extra work. He also said this indicated I should have a good recovery. Unfortunately, as I said, Covid got in the way of a quick surgery.

So I’m wondering if anyone else has gone through this, and I also have some thoughts for others who might face this in the future.

Actually, my biggest concern is that my hands will be relatively inactive for 6 months. Arthritis is not limited to my shoulders. I have occasional pain in my knees, stiffness in my neck, and, yes, some issues in my hands. I feel that as long as I am playing regularly I am keeping the arthritis at bay. Similarly, regular use of a rowing machine, which I’m also unable to do now, helps keep my knees pain free. For years I have taken a large spoon of turmeric every day and weekly acupuncture at a community clinic. One of the acupuncturists responding to my concerns about this period of inactivity recommended Chinese meditation balls, or baoding balls. Googling I found this YT video, sponsored by D’Addario strings.



There are other helpful videos that will be suggested if you view on YT. I find it very easy to work with the balls while watching videos, etc. I think they are really giving my hands a work out and increasing suppleness. They also stimulate the same acupuncture points in my hands that I have had needled weekly. My doctor and PT are very familiar and encouraging about using the balls, even suggesting I use them with my arm in the sling at 2 weeks out. This one suggestion has  given me much more confidence that I will come through this, at age 71, playing as well as I was before.

The second concern I had was repertoire, that I might lose some songs. I felt that I was not likely to lose songs that I have been playing a long time, so I focused the playing time I was able muster on practicing the newer songs I had learned in the last few years. I think this will also pay off. In addition I did some rough recordings that allow me to sing along and at least visualize the playing.

It was pretty disconcerting to finally get to retirement, to have time to really focus on the music, and suddenly be feeling that it could be taken away. These things have really helped me get through this with a better attitude. So I’m posting them because I know there are many others around my age who may be facing the same or similar issues. I welcome any insights that others may have.

Take care.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2022, 02:14:03 AM »
Wishing you success with the surgery and a quick and full recovery.

Offline harriet

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Re: Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2022, 03:12:17 AM »
No I haven't had anything as serious but as above wishing you successful procedure and full recovery. 

I don't know whether others would recommend slide guitar as a supplement  but I wouldn't think it would be a good idea.

Have had hand issues and I had forgotten I fractured my shoulder years ago.

One thng I have done to manage carpal  - I was a editorial/advertising digital illustrator by trade, and often at the computer for long hours - is I picked up a wacom tablet to toggle between a pen and a mouse and I have extra if you want to check one out. Their driver works depending on your operating system.
https://www.wacom.com/en-us/products/pen-tablets


Good luck,
Harriet

Edited to be more useful hopefully.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2022, 12:51:50 PM by harriet »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2022, 09:40:30 AM »
I'm sorry to hear about the problems, Wax. I'm wishing you a full and speedy recovery. When I lived in Taiwan I'd see people using the balls in the way they are used in the video. I never saw anyone using them while meditating, though. You could try them to see if they help.

In the words of my friend's mom forty-plus years ago, "Old sucks." Everything's fine until it's not.

Again, best of luck.

Offline eric

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Re: Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2022, 11:31:06 AM »
Waxwing,

Best wishes for a quick recovery. You're absolutely right about exercising your hands.  I had torn rotator cuff and bicep tendons repaired in February and did not really anticipate my hands stiffening up (especially the fretting hand) due to inability to play.  I'm still trying to catch up. Thanks for video recommendation.
--
Eric

Offline Pan

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Re: Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2022, 04:11:21 PM »
Get well soon, Wax!

Rergards,

Pan

Offline waxwing

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    • Wax's YouTube Channel
Re: Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2022, 09:32:11 PM »
Thanks Scratchy, Harriet, Stuart, Eric and Pan for your good wishes.

Harriet, yes, I too have lived with some Carpal Tunnel issues for most of my life, but I have learned to work steadily, rather than in heavy to light work load cycles. In my 20s I worked doing handwork in a sail loft, i.e. hand stitching rings and leather binding to the corners of large sails, often crunching a large needle with waxed thread through multiple layers of heavy, adhesive backed sail cloth, using a sailmaker's palm, 40 to 50 times for one ring. Every spring, during the busy season I would get CT, but as the work leveled off, the carpal tunnel does expand to accommodate the added muscle and alleviates the numbness. Now I always try to keep my practice level pretty much the same and it doesn't bother me. Hoping to get back to that.

Stuart and Eric, I've been working with the balls for a couple months now, starting before the first surgery. I found that my left, non-dominant hand, was far more able to learn to rotate the balls smoothly and I'm now getting decent at keeping them separated. of course, the fretting hand is way more supple than the picking hand, on which I hardly ever use anything but thumb and index. I think they are a good idea for any guitar player, whether working through an injury or not. I found that 2" balls worked well for my hands and were easier than the starter size, which is little over 1˝".

Thanks all,
Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

Offline Mike Billo

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    • Mike Billo
Re: Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2022, 10:18:47 AM »
  Heartfelt sympathy, John. That's a rough ordeal to go through. I have a friend (who's not a musician and therefore, not using the fine motor coordination that we do) who recently had a full shoulder replacement about 4 months ago and he's reporting complete recovery, so I hope that's encouraging.
  It looks like we're subject to the same ravages of age as civilians
  Last year, I received a kidney transplant and had trigger finger surgery on the middle finger of my left hand. During that time, I concentrated on my Harmonica playing
  Happy to report that everything worked out fine and my health is excellent

   I think your proactive approach is going to stand you in good stead as you navigate this surgery

   BTW I hear that the third Thursdays at the Bayview Boat Club are starting up again 

    Best of luck and keep us posted

Offline waxwing

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Re: Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2022, 02:01:09 AM »
Hey Mike,

Thanks for the good thoughts. Glad to hear you are doing well, also.

Actually, the whole process, including educating myself to the intricacies of the shoulder bone structure and musculature, seeing the technology (https://www.wrightemedia.com/ProductFiles/Files/PDFs/CAW-5406_EN_LR_LE.pdf keep scrolling down) and going through the procedure, has been fascinating, and I worked as a medical social worker in the same hospital complex (Kaiser Oakland/Richmond) for the last 7 years before May of '20, dealing more with patients social and emotional issues. Had my first PT last week at 4 weeks out and am healing very well.

Yeah, hard to get myself to go out to the boat club when I can't play. Plus I'm still being very Covid conscious, not wanting to interrupt my surgery scheduler the other shoulder, not to mention another mutation causing high transmission rate increases in the Bay Area.

Take care,
Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
CD on YT

Offline eric

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Re: Shoulder Surgery and guitar playing
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2022, 10:12:53 AM »
There's a complete video of a doc performing the same arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery I had.  It's not for the faint of heart, but the technology and skill involved are astounding. We are fortunate.
--
Eric

Tags: Injuries 
 


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