Drafting vs. Drumming and getting Wrist Tendonitis
I’m looking for an explanation with regard to wrist tendonitis. I have correct posture, relaxed wrists, support etc, etc. I have done a ton of reading and research and have had visits to the doctor and I am actually doing fine right now. Let me fill you in on some of the history.
I’m 49 and have been a structural engineer as well as a drummer for about 26 years.
For about four years now I’ve been dealing with tendonitis off and on of varying degrees. I have my own engineering practice (just myself and my wife) in which I have to do all the engineering and drafting. Drafting demands heavy mouse use with constant clicking. I use AutoCAD and draft very quickly. I would develop tendonitis in both my wrists (I have also learned to click using my left hand as well just to get by) so much so that I would need ice packs, massage, vibration etc.
The only way I could keep working was to work for an hour or so and take and hour break, work at night and weekends to spread out the clicking with as much rest, ice, massage in-between. Eventually, It would culminate to where I would need to stop all together for a couple of weeks.
Two summers ago it effected me for about six weeks. Finally, last spring, it started again a little bit at a time. Then during the summer it got to a point where I had both hands in a sling. I decided that it was time to hang up the mouse and start a new career.
The pain occurs in both wrists at the same spot. It is where you would take someone’s pulse. The pain is not sharp and it doesn’t travel or shoot. However, it is very concentrated in that small pinpoint area. When it gets bad it swells or inflames and any form of pain killers don’t seem to work.
I made the decision to stop engineering (design/drafting) last July (6 months or so) and my wrists finally went back to normal in about two months or so and have healed to a point where I don’t have the pain anymore. However, as soon as I try drafting for any length of time it begins to hurt again. So this tells me I’ve made the right decision.
The only activities that seem to cause this to happen is mouse clicking. Typing does effect them as well but its only after a lot of typing and consistently everyday. The pain (if any) is mild and since I don’t type as much it doesn’t reach the tipping point. This email here is about the most typing I’ve done at one time since last summer.
My problem is this. I can play the drums without having the same reaction as with the mouse clicking. Why is this a problem? I have someone who doubts my condition. They feel I’m lying and can’t understand how I can play the drums but not do my drafting job.
I have found that playing the drums does not effect this particular area. Now, as all drummers are aware, you need to play relaxed as well as warm up your wrists and not over do it with playing and stop if you start to feel pain or you will develop tendonitis in your wrist and/or elbow.
drummers at one time or another have had to deal with tendonitis and it is “normal” in the sense that it doesn’t necessarily coincide or cause other conditions.
I’ve studied my hands while playing the drums and the fulcrum is between my thumb and index finger. Also, my index finger (clicking finger) hardly moves at all when I am playing (single stroke, double stroke) if any. It stays stable while the stick pivots in the fulcrum. Most of my movement seems to be with the more major muscle groups (wrists, forearm and there on up). Are there separate tendons that create the movement for clicking and use different nerves??
How can you explain how this happens medically?
Do you have any pictures, diagrams and/or charts that can show how this is possible?
I can’t explain why this is so, I just know it is. Can you please give your expert opinion?
1. The good news is, the pain goes away after a time when you stop mouse clicking. The bad news is, obviously, it comes back quickly.
The GREAT news is that you can drum all you want.
2. "They feel I’m lying and can’t understand how I can play the drums but not do my drafting job." My advise is to laugh dismissively in their face and walk away (because it's that or get made at their ignorance and lack of respect). I'll just assume it's not your wife. :)
You probably shouldn't take that advice, but it's fun to think about.
There's all sorts of reason why it can be exactly this way, and NO reason why it can't be (medically or otherwise), aside from their lack of skill, knowledge, experience, education, and imagination.
3. "Can you explain how this happens medically?"
A. It is how it is.
B. It's actually easier on the body to drum than to mouse click, in the sense that drumming uses multiple structures/muscles/etc which means over all there's less load/strain on any one in particular, compared to mouse clicking, which is very fine motor movement muscle firing and stabilization.
The body gets extremely efficient at whatever tasks we do. Which basically means that the bare minimum that needs to happen happens. The big downside to that specialization is that a very small set of tissue/structure is doing all the work.
You mouse click with one finger millions of times. Muscles get tight. They stay tight. They get tighter. They stay tighter. Connective tissue too.
The tighter a muscle is, the less circulation it gets in and out and the less force/work it can produce.
Overworked, undernourished, hello Pain Causing Dynamic
and constant/chronic Process of Inflammation
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Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expertwww.TendonitisExpert.com