Drumming Injury After 6 Years, Not Tendonitis,

by Justin
(Louisville, ky)

I've been drumming for about five to six years now and a few months ago I began developing inflammation in my forearms.

At first, I just thought it was muscle fatigue and didn't think much about it.

When it got worse I began taking Aleve (NSAID) because I thought it would help.

Now I can't play without pain so I've put the sticks down for about a month now and I am still sore.

Most, if not all, my pain is on the top of my forearm. I think it is the "extensor digitorum" according to a diagram - not positive. I also have some pain in that fleshy part just below the elbow bend on the side right by the bone "Anconeus"?

I went to a physician and he did some movement tests to check for tendonitis and none of the motions/movements hurt whatsoever. I'm assuming I just have muscle damage but I have no clue.

I just started the ice treatment (dipping + massage) for both arms. The left is slightly worse than the right.

I've taken a few lessons from a professional drummer and he said my hand technique is fine. I'm thinking there was tension in my playing that he couldn't see/tell but I thought I was as relaxed as possible...

Anyway, I'm just not sure what to do. I've been icing the sore/tendor parts for a few weeks now and it hasn't seemed to improve much. But like I said, I just began the dipping. Would it hurt to leave my arm in longer than 10 seconds?

Also, would working out/lifting weights of some sort help with this? Would having more muscle strength in other areas help to evenly distribute the work load?

Let me know if you need any additional information to further assist me. I would appreciate it. I want to play again.


Joshua Answers:

I hear ya Justin. Let's get you playing again.

From what you have said, it sounds like:

1. You used your hands a lot.

2. Muscles got tight.

3. Over time, muscles stayed tight.

4. Over time, connective tissue shrunk wrapped (not a word, but I'm going to make it one since I keep using it).

5. You kept using your structure, it progressively got harder and harder to get the structure to move (equals fatigue), at some point the body decided it was a problem, and it's all downhill from there.

You don't have to have Tendonitis to have pain.

You have too much tightness, too much constriction and a chronic Process of Inflammation.

It is incredibly unlikely that you have actual muscle damage.

Ice Dipping is more about the repetition than the duration. 20 seconds is fine, but 60 seconds isn't really any better than 10.

1. Ice Dip like your drumming career depends on it. The more dips, the more results. For the next week, try to get 50 dips a day, for instance. The more the merrier.

2. Ice Massage: Get in there and grind/press/stretch/spread those fibers.

If you aren't significantly better in 7 days of heavy icing and ice massaging, I'll be very surprised, and we'll start investigating more.

But if you put the effort in, you'll be pleased.

More questions, more answers.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Comments for Drumming Injury After 6 Years, Not Tendonitis,

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Feb 06, 2014
Same Issue, pain from drumming that's lasted for years
by: Anonymous

I have the same issue. I caused some kind of injury several years ago practicing drum rudiments on a practice pad. It didn't happen over time, it occured during one practice session when I was attempting triplet drum rolls.

To this day I still have pain along the top of my forearm. It usually doesn't bother me, but if I take my thumb and press down on the muscles, like a deep message technique, I can feel pain.

I always thought it was tendinitis but it has been years since I injured it. I can still play drums, but I have to be very careful in my technique as not to inflame it since this motion is what caused it in the first place.


Joshua Comments:

So it still hurts years later, it hurts when you drum, there's inflammation, you have to be careful...

Why do you think that that's not tendinitis? Sounds exactly like tendonitis to me.

Feb 25, 2014
Tendonitis heals over time?
by: Anonymous

It could be tendonitis, but it's been a very long time since I had the injury and I've given it plenty of time heal. It feels the same as tendonitis, but now I'm thinking that maybe I tore the muscle down deep, and it healed back as scar tissue.

It can eventually be absorbed back into the body and the muscle return to normal, but this can take years if it happens at all depending on the severity of the tear. I would hate to think that I will have this condition for the rest of my life.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anonymous.

1. I'd hate to think you'll have tendonitis related pain all your life too. There's no reason for that.

2. Time doesn't heal tendonitis. And tendonitis generally isn't an 'injury'.

Maybe you tore the muscle. Did you? If you did, it's because of the factors of the tendonitis, which basically causes muscle to not be able to do it's job, thus injury happens. If you didn't have a 'tear', then that's a good thing. If you did, they don't heal and then 'reabsorb'. It just doesn't work that way.

3. "A muscle with scar tissue can become inflamed very easily and give symptoms of tendonitis?"

Yes, basically.

Mar 29, 2015
Left carpal tendon pain from drumming. Cannot seem to eliminate it.. Help!
by: Mike

Hello, It's been roughly a year since my tendonitis symptoms arose in my left wrist.

I believe my drumming is the main culprit here in starting my symptoms, I've tried virtually every technique to reverse my pain and inflammation especially because I'll be starting music school come this September, and I'd like to have no issues.

This "pain" comes and goes depending on how much I practice. If I lay off for a week or more, The pain seems to subside but then the left carpal tendons flare up again very easily if I continue my usual routine.

I also work out with moderate weight 3-5 times per week, and I've been an auto detailer for a few years now but none of those activities have ever caused this pain and inflammation in all the years that I've been doing them.

Which is why I'm blaming the symptom causes initially on drumming. I typically practiced for 1-2 hours per day. But now I find I can only practice every few days.

What are some healing methods that I can perform to eliminate this pain dynamic slump that I've been in for; like I said roughly one year now?

Resting doesn't even help anymore because the pain keeps returning.

Some notes: I still have full strength evenly in both hands, no numbness or tingling, but I do have a slightly lower range of motion in the affected wrist possibly because of the inflammation.

My left hand has also become a bit slower than my right hand due to the fact that there may be some friction in the carpal tunnel area preventing it from sliding freely. I think I might have some damage since the pain has been present for so long now.

Some common methods that I've used resulting in failure:



Prescription Anti-Inflammitory medicaton 800mg ibuprofen

Frequent Stretching (made it worse and irritated it more)

Hydro-Contrast therapy

Self massage

None of these common methods have aided me even with months of repetitive usage.

I can still use my left wrist fine for everything, but It doesn't perform as well as my un-affected right hand and by comparison of the two, is slightly inflamed in the carpal area.

I also want to make a note that I take men's one a day, omega 3,6,9, turmeric circumin all recommended dosage. I just can't get this left wrist out of a pain/inflammatory dynamic.

Please help!



Joshua Comments:

Hi Mike.

Yeah, Rest doesn't work. It reduces new irritation to an already irritated dynamic...but other than that....

What you've listed (rest, anti-inflammatories, stretching, etc) is the normal (and unsurprising) options that don't provide the results we're looking or.

Ice packs (if that's how you're icing) for 15-20 minutes aren't the best option for icing.

See: How To Reduce Inflammation

Contrast therapy can be very good, depending on how you go about it. But even then, primarily all it's doing is reducing pain symptoms, it's not a fix.

Curcumin and turmeric, good.

Tendonitis symptoms are made up of multiple factors. You would be wise to deal with them all...and deal with each one effectively.

Lots of people spend a lot of time and wasted effort just focusing on one factor, or two, and then not going about it in a way that's really going to make a difference.

Close, but no cigar, as they say.

See: What Is Tendonitis?

Self massage is great, if A. you're doing enough to make a difference and B. your nutrition is covered such that your body can beneficially RESPOND to the massage.

And then there's nutrition.

There's just not enough in a men's one a day to do much. It's better than nothing, but it's not going to do anything therapeutic.

Omega 3's are good, presuming quality and quantity is good/high enough.

What you 100% need is magnesium.

See: Magnesium For Tendonitis

The good news is, drumming isn't the problem.

The problem is, your (let's generalize and call it your 'arms') arm structures and system aren't working optimally.

Muscle and connective tissue is too tight, inflammation process is established, and nutrition is lacking.

Apr 19, 2015
Another drumming problem
by: Jonas

Hi, I'm a 19 year old jazz drums student and I've been playing drums intensively for 5-6 years now and it seems that I have started to have Tendonitis-like symptoms in my left forearm - the inner side - basically the whole arm is pretty ok, but the pain shows up when i move the tip of my middle finger (other fingers don't trigger the pain). And this finger is always in action when I play.

When I used to play heavier music with a lot of fast and loud elements, I used to practice for 6 hours every single day and my hands used to be super fluent and light and not even tense after practicing, but since I started practicing jazz, I noticed that I don't warm up enough naturally and paradoxically my muscles get way more tense.

For the rest 5 months I had been practicing 4 hours a day and a week ago I started feeling the pain. It felt like a usual post-workout pain and I didn't take it seriously, so I just took playing more lightly. But soreness didn't go away.

As I understand it's a very early stage of RSI/tendonitis, so what would be the best thing to do? I already stopped playing until I'm sure I can't harm myself. I'm also trying to avoid any action that requires my left hand middle finger, because that's when I feel the pain.

Also, I feel tension in my neck and the whole left arm (shoulder, bicep), but self-massage helped a lot with that during past few days.

I started using an Ibuprofen based gel, cooling the arm with ice-water today.

I am really concerned about this problem, since my exams are very near and I don't want to make it worse and have troubles being a full-time working musician later.

Thank you in advance for any kind of response.

Kind regards!


Joshua Comments:

Hi Jonas.

Yeah, that sounds like a problem. Better nip it in the bud before it becomes a real problem.

The reason for the problem isn't the drumming, it's that your body isn't functioning optimally, so it can't deal with the stress of the activity.

The activity doesn't matter, it's the body's ability to function (or not) that matters.

The short answer is, get the Reversing Wrist Tendonitis program. That has everything you need.

The longer answer is, read this entire thread and follow the links, then come back with any questions.

As far as the neck tension, etc, partly that's due to the nutritional lack you're experiencing, and partly because of the hunched forward position you're in when you drum, drive, sit on computer, read, etc.

Lay back over a couch arm or big pillows in bed or one of those big blow up exercise balls...take your body in the opposite direction of 'hunched forward'.

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