Musician and tendonitis questions for a paper I'm writing.

by Jelle Van Giel
(Vorselaar, Antwerpen, België)


Hi Joshua.

How are you?

Let me introduce myself. My name is Jelle Van Giel and I study Jazz at the conservatory of Antwerp (Belgium).

I'm in my fifth year and have to write a paper. I want to do that about injuries from playing the drums (because I'm a drummer).

So my question to you is:

1) if you ever had any experience with musicians, in particular drummers, who came to you with there injury?

2) What injuries do you think would be the most common with drummers, like tendonitis in the wrists, elbow, shoulder and Achilles? This because a drummer makes a lot of repetitive motions?

If you can give me some more information I would be very happy. I can find things on the net and in books but when I came to your site it was like all the information from the other sites was just bullshit.

Hope to hear from you soon,


Joshua Answers:

Hello Jelle.

You said "I can find things on the net and in books but when I came to your site it was like all the information from the other sites was just bullshit."

Haha. AWESOME. I'll help you all you want just for that! I'm going to put that on my home page (unless you have an objection to me doing that).

I'll give short answers to your questions here, and then email you to find out exactly what you are looking for for your paper, and then we'll either talk
on this public forum, or by email depending on the requirements of your paper.

1. The musicians that come to me, drummers or otherwise, all share the common variable of being in severe pain and are somewhat 'forced' to find something that will help. They have tried the usual methods that don't work, and they have tried to ignore the pain as long as they could. Now they have to find a cure or quit playing their instrument.

That's when most people find me.

2. I would expect that most drummer's injuries would be at the fingers, hand, and wrist. But I find that it's at the elbow and shoulder. This makes sense when you start looking at how the body works and interacts with drumming.

I'd be happy to give you more information. Let's talk.

Joshua 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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May 22, 2009
Hi again
by: Anonymous

Hi Joshua,

did you send me an e-mail yet? Maybe it ended up in my junk folder and I missed it..?

Anyway, my paper is finished but it's still interessting what you find about this subject.

Can you please try sending me an email again?
Let's talk.. :)



Joshua Answers:

I believe that I did, but I'll try again with a different email account.

I was wondering where you disappeared too....

I'd be interested to see you paper too.


Nov 29, 2014
Another one with wrist tendonitis from playing guitar
by: Dave

I started playing guitar about 13 years ago, I played A LOT ( or a lot compared to all those weekend warriors) . Let's say average 10-20 hours a week.

I never had any problems save for maybe once a year feeling a painful left wrist (my fretting hand). Usually it would happen if I did something like suddenly forcing myself to learn dozens of weird stretchy chord patterns for a few hours on end with no break.

It would hurt when I curled my wrist downward and I'd feel the pain mostly in and around the bony nub on TOP of the wrist (not the one on the side). So basically the spot directly on the other side of where one would take a pulse. Anyhow resting it for a few days each time meant all was back to normal (or it felt that way).

Over time, I'm guessing the following added up for a bad cocktail: repetitive motions from restaurant jobs and guitar (and too much typing at times), playing ergonomically bad cheapo pawn shop guitars, not warming up and stretching, bad diet (especially lots of soda pop), and occasional stagnance.

The 'big hit' was two winters ago. It was a sort of Christmas break and I barely worked, I was vegging on the computer and eating holiday junk diet. I didn't even play guitar much (in contrast to my usual standards).

My friend came back from vacation in Vegas and we did a power jam for about 4 hours straight. I noticed my bad wrist at the end, and I wasn't too worried thinking it'd just be another time where it'd get better a few days later.

Well, it took almost TWO weeks to get better and I was lucky I was already on break from work, otherwise I'd be missing tons of work from this. Initially my wrist almost felt broken it was so bad and I was freaking out.

Then I saw some docs. It eventually healed but never seemed the same. I could still play but I felt more fragile and was cautious. The following few months I also noticed my left fingers getting stiff and painful, my left elbow was bad, AND my left shoulder in the scapula area was bad (and a tiny bit on the right shoulder too).

I quit my main job and only kept my weekend job. I also cut my guitar playing down to almost nothing. Saw the doc again and saw a physio who was a flakebag. Discouraged, I decided to get better on my own however procrastinated on many things.

Eventually about a year later I finally saw another physio and also saw an acupuncturist. They have helped, but only brought me halfway. I feel like I need to do more self care on my own and they can only do so much.

The worst area is the L shoulder scapula region. Sometimes it feels better other times it sorta kicks in with pain. The wrist seems ok if I totally avoid the guitar, but then when it seems 'safe' I jump back in and it can hurt again.

So here are some questions:

~Ice dipping. I know I'm probably naive about this, but isn't the cold very bad for things like this? Isn't it how it turns to things like arthritis? If the cold constricts doesn't that arrest circulation, which is super important to healing? Doesn't the cold tighten muscles instead of loosening them?

Are there any side effects or hazards of ice dipping?

~Warm treatments. Is it a case of they are less effective than cold, or a case of they will actually make things WORSE? In other words, should they TOTALLY be avoided or should they just be supplemented with cold?

~If the pain is barely felt at times, is that a sign it's more of a nerves/inflammation thing vs. actual tendon damage?

~I've been told through CAREFUL strengthening, the stronger uninjured muscles can 'support' and 'protect' injured areas, giving them a chance to heal. But are you saying it's seldom an issue of strengthening, furthermore strengthening can aggravate things?

~The body seems to be very smart with how it responds to things. How come a natural process like inflammation seems so whacked and impeding actual healing?

~What's the best way to eliminate cell wastes, excess fluid, and create circulation?

~If pain begets inflammation begets pain and so on, can you trip up the cycle by painkillers? Or is it better to just reduce inflammation..

~Any good ways to reduce inflammation besides diet and ice, or are those the golden ones?

~What makes a broken bone so much easier to heal than tendonitis?

~If I live in a cold area, can I substitute in exposing my hand to the cold wind and air if I'm not near an ice bucket at the moment? Or is that just dumb?

Thanks and I'll ask more things if I think of 'em..


Joshua Comments:

Hi Dave.

You just perfectly described teh usual, predictable progression of the tendonitis dynamic. It gets a little worse, goes away, come back a little more worse, goes a away a little slower, until one day....

One can get Tendonitis most anywhere in the body (where there's a tendon).

And it's all due to the predictible mechanisms of the Pain Causing Dynamic

Make sure that you know the answer to this question: What Is Tendonitis?

1. No, cold isn't bad for things. No cold isn't how you get arthritis.

Cold constricts but doesn't stop circulation it increases it. See: How To Reduce Inflammation

There are no hazards to 10 second ice dips.

2. Warmth brings blood to the area. Cold shunts fluid out then the body overcompensates and pushes new blood in.

3. "If the pain is barely felt at times, is that a sign it's more of a nerves/inflammation thing vs. actual tendon damage?"


Pain has zero correlation to tendon damage. One can have agonizing debilitating pain with no tendon damage.

The symptoms you describe fit a tendonitis dynamic. -Maybe- you have actual rip and tear of the tendon, but it's unlikely. Microtrauma maybe, but that's no big deal

Even if your tendon(s) hurt, that's just a symptom, not a cause.

5. "But are you saying it's seldom an issue of strengthening, furthermore strengthening can aggravate things?"

Yes. Loss of functionality is the problem, not 'weakness'. You're not weak, you don't have the strength because you're muscles are A. overworked and fatigued and B. your muscles are stuck 'on', already contracting, and there's just not as much contraction potential left.

That's -if- you even have any weakness.

But the concept of strengthening to other muscles can heal is a terrible idea because A. 'healing' is only a factor if there's an actual rip/tear injury and B. why not help all the muscles to function optimally?

And trying to 'strengthen' uses the non-optimal muscles and irritates an already irritated dyanmic. It certainly doesn't fix anything. (Well, it sometimes does if a muscle imbalance is the -only- factor at play, which is sometimes the case.)

6. "How come a natural process like inflammation seems so whacked and impeding actual healing?"

I have no idea. The body is AMAZING it so many ways, and super stupid in others. *shrug*

Also, I don't know that it impedes healing, but it defintely sets up a scenario where you can hurt and have poor function LONG after any actual rip/tear has healed.

7. Painkillers don't break the cycle. They help you get through the day, though, and sometimes that's super valuable.

8. Diet and ice are golden.

9. A broken bone is usually an impact injury that causes actual damage. Damage heals, you're left mostly happy (not really, but let's go with that).

Tendonitis is a dynamic made up of several factors that all conspire together to create pain and problem. If you don't deal effectively with the factors, the problem lingers and continues to progress only one direction: towards pain and problem.

10. It's not just dumb. I don't think the body responds quite as much to cold air as to artic cold water. Maybe if it's REAL cold and you stick your arms out into the cold suddenly to get the 'shock' response. But a sink/bucket of ice water is way easier and more effective, in my opinion.

See Related: Wrist Tendonitis And Ice Dipping Long Term Questions

Dec 01, 2014
by: Dave

Thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to answer these! I guess I have many points to ponder.

For some reason I thought I put my entry in a 'general' section, but it seems I'm in some thread about writing a paper. System glitch or I missed something? Anyhow it doesn't matter to me...I just mean I don't mean to be detracting the focus from the original post!


Joshua Comments:

Hi Dave.

No worries about being on the 'wrong' thread.

Aside from the paper part, it seemed relevant enough when I added your comment to this thread (I move from the 'general' to 'specific' threads.

Maybe not the most amazing choice on my end, but hey.

How's the pondering going?

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