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Old February 8th, 2013, 01:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Anyone here with neck/back problems how has it affected your playing?

So I have a drs appt for next week, I have what I'm fairly are a herniated disk or two in my upper vertebrae as a result of playing football and various other contact sports growing up. The pain is pretty constant and at about a 7 all the time. My upper neck down to my lower back are stiff and when I turn one or another it sounds like someone popping bubble wrap or crunching a bag of potato chips. Worst of all I'm starting to get numbness and tingling in my hands and its affecting my playing. I'm not sure if the hand thing is related or repetitive stress injury. Anybody have similar experience? In the event I need surgery how will playing fit in with rehab. These are all things I'm planning on discussibg with my MD just thought I would bring it to the real experts :D

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Old February 8th, 2013, 02:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have had a couple of back surgeries, the main differences are that I play more sitting down than standing up, and I carry much lighter amps around. I gigged for a couple of months with the doctor insisting that I not lift more than 15 pounds. So I cheated a little with a 17 lb speaker cabinet. Take it slow, don't cheat on the rehab, use the time for practice if you can. All the best to you.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 02:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have had a couple of back surgeries, the main differences are that I play more sitting down than standing up, and I carry much lighter amps around. I gigged for a couple of months with the doctor insisting that I not lift more than 15 pounds. So I cheated a little with a 17 lb speaker cabinet. Take it slow, don't cheat on the rehab, use the time for practice if you can. All the best to you.
Thanks Jackal, what kind of injury did you suffer from? if you don't mind my asking.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 02:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I constant problems with my left knee after being hit by a drunk driver years ago. The downer is the insurance company would not pay for therapy.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 03:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have had neck/back problems for years - problems with c3/4/5/6 mostly the result of playing hockey. In my 30's I had my left arm go numb and lose all strength and I still get weird "nerve events" in that arm now. My doctor had me doing light exercise for a while, then cleared me to do weights and I've been doing weights regularly ever since. No way around the pain, though - other than lots of ibuprophen!
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Old February 8th, 2013, 03:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I have had chronic back pain for over ten years which forced me to stop playing live, I have severe scoliosis a double curve to the spine, so thankfully that keeps me upright as apposed to shooting off to one side it never really affected me in my music career till I turned 40 and it all went down hill from there, I also have spondilitis which is a arthritis at the base of my spine, so because of the curve all the nerves at the base of the spine are being crushed so without strong pain meds I could not function at all, all is not doom n gloom not so long ago A back specialist suggested I try a drug called Gabapentin for the nerve damage and for me it has been life changing, The Gabapentin works on the brain by altering the nerve pain before it reaches the brain and the last 2 months have been the best I have felt for over 10 years, I can now help around the house, do some yard work,I ditched my cain as it helped alleviate the pressure on my lower back, and I'am even looking for a band I can have a jam with, I still take all my other meds and all the side effects that go with them like weight gain, tremors, etc etc etc, but life without them untill someone comes up with a miracle cure is here to stay for me.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 03:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I have had chronic back pain for over ten years which forced me to stop playing live, I have severe scoliosis a double curve to the spine, so thankfully that keeps me upright as apposed to shooting off to one side it never really affected me in my music career till I turned 40 and it all went down hill from there, I also have spondilitis which is a arthritis at the base of my spine, so because of the curve all the nerves at the base of the spine are being crushed so without strong pain meds I could not function at all, all is not doom n gloom not so long ago A back specialist suggested I try a drug called Gabapentin for the nerve damage and for me it has been life changing, The Gabapentin works on the brain by altering the nerve pain before it reaches the brain and the last 2 months have been the best I have felt for over 10 years, I can now help around the house, do some yard work,I ditched my cain as it helped alleviate the pressure on my lower back, and I'am even looking for a band I can have a jam with, I still take all my other meds and all the side effects that go with them like weight gain, tremors, etc etc etc, but life without them untill someone comes up with a miracle cure is here to stay for me.
My old man has arthritis in his spine, and all kinds of other associated ailments, so I'm sure some of this is hereditary. Happy to hear the new mess are working out for you and giving you some freedom to do those little things most of us take for granted and if ya didn't live on the other side of the world Id be happy to jam with ya any time.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 06:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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My old man has arthritis in his spine, and all kinds of other associated ailments, so I'm sure some of this is hereditary. Happy to hear the new mess are working out for you and giving you some freedom to do those little things most of us take for granted and if ya didn't live on the other side of the world Id be happy to jam with ya any time.
Cheers brother much appreciated.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 06:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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When I have back problems, I play my PRS more than my LPs. It is more balanced and lighter than the Gibson.

I also play sitting down, which really helps.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 11:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I had three of my lower back discs shaved off so that they were not compressing the spinal column, than later on, had 2 discs replaces. I have had lower back pain for several years, (OK, a lot of years) just mistreated it too hard for too many years. Now have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. Lots of heating pads alternated with ice packs. The occasional pain pill helps, but trying to be very careful with them.
Keep practicing and gigging. When I'm onstage, my back never hurts!
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Old March 6th, 2013, 11:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by TeleTex82 View Post
So I have a drs appt for next week, I have what I'm fairly are a herniated disk or two in my upper vertebrae as a result of playing football and various other contact sports growing up. The pain is pretty constant and at about a 7 all the time. My upper neck down to my lower back are stiff and when I turn one or another it sounds like someone popping bubble wrap or crunching a bag of potato chips. Worst of all I'm starting to get numbness and tingling in my hands and its affecting my playing. I'm not sure if the hand thing is related or repetitive stress injury. Anybody have similar experience? In the event I need surgery how will playing fit in with rehab. These are all things I'm planning on discussibg with my MD just thought I would bring it to the real experts :D
Numbness and tingling is indicative of neuropathy, which is damage to the nerves. Repetitive Strain Injury is a blanket term for several different injuries (carpal tunnel, trigger finger, etc.), but I believe those are generally things like inflamed tendons and whatnot.

As mentioned, gabapentin is generally the first line medication for neuropathy and neuralgia (sharp, shooting nerve pain). It worked fairly well for me in combination with very mild doses of opioid painkillers. I was lucky enough that after seeing about four doctors, the fifth doctor I saw diagnosed me correctly in under five minutes and got me on track for recovery. With a few steroid shots and some very light physical therapy, I was fine. However, if I stop doing the prescribed stretches to strengthen my 'core' muscles, I do start to get bad hip pain and the sciatica in my legs comes back.

In my case, the two 'wings' that make up my pelvis (the iliac bones) were off kilter with my sacrum (tailbone) and were pinching the sciatic nerve that runs all the way down the spine, splits there, and runs down each leg.

I don't know the nerves up in the upper back, but I'd wager your ruptured discs up there are pinching the nerves that run down the length of your arms, causing the neuropathy in your hands. Once the swelling from the discs goes down, hopefully you will be fit as a fiddle again.

Of course, I am not a doctor, I just play one on the internet.

Last edited by JayBeezy42; March 7th, 2013 at 12:11 AM. Reason: Added more info
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Old March 7th, 2013, 12:29 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I've had to change some habits as a result of blown discs and permanent neuropathy.
I sit to play most of the time and am careful about posture. The half stack stays at home; a VibroChamp and 2x10 cab are now more practical for live work. Same goes for bass, having switched to a MarkBass amp and 2x10 cab. My darkest days were when the injury was acute and I was surviving on opioids and cyclobenzeprine, whose side effects included loss of strength in my hands and in my noggin. And dreams that would make Tarantino blush. Now I'm managing, more or less, on Lyrica for the nerve-related pain. But hey, I'm over 50 and well past the OEM warrantee period. Can't complain.
Good luck.
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Old March 7th, 2013, 01:22 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I sold my Agile Les Paul, it was too heavy to pay post L4-L5 back surgery. And before the surgery it hurt too much to play for long. But it is much better now. To the other posters, Gabapentin works great for nerve pain as described, and it really got me through a really tough 5 months of pain, but I experienced two negative side effects: significant loss of short term memory, and constant suicidal thoughts. Backing off the dosage made both problems go away, but it was scary for a bit...
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Old March 7th, 2013, 01:45 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I am opposite. Before talking up the guitar again after a long layoff, I would get terrible neck and shoulder pain associated with being at the computer all day. Now when I work, I play guitar to 20 minutes, do computer stuff for 20, and back and forth all day. It keeps everything limber.
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Old March 7th, 2013, 11:30 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I have bad impingement and labral tears in both shoulders, also torn ligaments in my left wrist. It does make playing more difficult, the right shoulder in particular makes ideal strumming/picking motions painful.

To add to this I have a natural tremor in my hands and get outrageously intense adrenalin rush/fight or flight when I have to do almost anything of consequence, like even informal playing in front of people - real performances are crazy intense.

So I can only ever play to about 1/2 of my ability when noodling by myself.
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Old March 7th, 2013, 11:54 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I started having back problems in the seventies...

when I was playing six nights a week in SoCal... That's when I decided to get more involved in the pedal steel where I could sit down.. I'd always played a "little" steel and had one so I started bringing it to the gig and within a year I had a full time steel gig where I "doubled" on guitar. Nowadays I work either guitar or steel gigs or both together. When I do a guitar only gig I have to play sitting down unless it's a short one. I can handle about one set standing up but then I have to get a barstool, preferably one with a back..... I hate gettin' old but it beats the alternative........JH in Va.
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Old March 7th, 2013, 12:47 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I don't think there's much cervical neurological involvement, but I sure am having a lot of carpal tunnel related symptoms (mostly from too much construction work - you gotta do this when the weather will let you).

Lot of pain trying to play. I've taken a couple days off here and there, couldn't play 20 minutes the other day. But it always resolves, once I put down the saw, etc.
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Old March 7th, 2013, 02:07 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Several years ago, I attended a Mark Farner Concert at a floating club on Lake Travis (Austin, TX). I noted that Mark was playing a Parker guitar throughout the whole evening.

So, after the concert, I went up and asked him why he was playing a Parker and what he liked about them. This is a rough paraphrase of what he told me:

Mark Farner:
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I had neck surgery several years ago and it laid me up really bad. The doctor told me that I would never be able to strap on a guitar and perform again. I said, "SCREW THAT!". Then I found out how light weight Parker guitars were. It was a God send. Now I can get back to what I love doing . . . performing live and touring. And the great thing is, the Parker guitars are AWESOME sounding guitars.".
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Old March 7th, 2013, 02:16 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I've had a shoulder rebuilt and was unable to play the until I got far enough into physical therapy that I was able to play again. That being said, I have a hip that hurts if I stand in one spot too long. Thankfully I've been able to use a stool on stage. Good luck with the back.
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Old March 7th, 2013, 03:02 PM   #20 (permalink)
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My leg goes numb standing for awhile. I finally got some Dr Scholl inserts, and that got rid of it...(back related)
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