Tendinitis And Guitar Players: A Natural Cure
This article is about my experience with a tendinitis condition I developed in my left hand and how I cured it naturally. The remedy has a few parts to it and I will outline them here. The time frame was not long before I felt significantly better. There is another article that goes with this one entitled “Hand Strength For Guitar Players”. That one will outline how to build hand strength for long hours of playing guitar on the road or long sessions.
A few years back I developed a tendinitis condition in my left hand from playing guitar all the time. I was playing about 80 or so gigs per year plus rehearsing and showcasing. The gigs I did were about 4 hours long with not much of a break. I also had a guitar and amp repair shop so I was playing a lot during the day to test and fine tune the repairs. The tendinitis was in my left thumb area and also in my middle finger area. I had a dull ache in my left wrist as well. I went to a chiropractor who was excellent and helped but did not “cure” the condition. I played around with my guitars’ strap height and hand positioning which only helped a little. I decided that it was just too uncomfortable and hindering my playing. I really love playing guitar so I was not very happy either.
The steps below are what I did to literally cure my condition naturally and did not cost a lot of money as compared to doctor bills or even worse surgery. I could not afford to stop playing because it was my livelihood and my love.
The first thing I realized that my tendons and muscles around the affected area were inflamed. This is basically a repetitive motion injury. Ice did not really help the inflammation much. A product was brought to my attention by strength trainer, Mike Mahler. There is more information about him in my “Hand Strength For Guitar Players” article. The product is called Vitalzym by World Nutrition. This product is a tablet form systemic enzyme supplement available online. They are all natural with no side effects unlike NSAID products (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc) for inflammation. “Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts, speeding the rate at which biochemical reactions proceed but not altering the direction or nature of the reactions”. You can read more about this product on the World Nutrition site and the article “What Are Systemic Enzymes And What Do They Do” on Dr. William Wong’ssite in the Archived Article’ssection. Basically in this case the Vitalzym reduced and over a very short time eliminated the inflammation completely. That was the biggest step in the process and the most relief as well. As a side note the Vitalzym product is excellent for many other conditions as well as you can read in Dr. Wong’s articles. The Vitalzym instructions say to take 3 tabs, 3 times per day to start for the first 3 days, then increase the dose by one tab, 3 times per day until you feel a difference. This is called the activation dosage. The instructions also say to take the Vitalzym 30 minutes before or 60 minutes after food, never with food. I worked my way up to taking 10 tabs, 3 times per day for about 10 days then reduced the dosage slowly down to 5 tabs, 3 times per day. This is my personal activation dosage that I take for maintenance. Everyone’s activation dose is different but most fall between 3-5 tabs, 3 times per day. When I hit the 10 tabs, 3 times per day in two days my inflammation and pain were gone! Some other aches were gone as well like in my back from standing for long hours at the workbench and on the bandstand with a guitar for hours at a time. I stayed at this dosage for 8 more days and then started the slow decrease. Another added benefit for me as a singing musician was that my voice seemed to feel better the morning after a gig. I used to wake up in the morning with my voice a little tired after a high energy gig and after 2 or 3 of these in a row I used to get a little hoarse. So my voice felt better as well.
Update: As of 9-22-11 I have switched to a much more effective enzyme product called Exclzyme. There is no activation dosage to find and for maintenance 2 tabs 3 times per day between meals is the recommended dose. If I experience any symptoms I increase the dose to 3 tabs 3 times per day.
The next part of curing my condition was relatively simple and suggested by my chiropractor. At night when I went to sleep he suggested that I wear a brace that immobilized my left hand and wrist. When we sleep our hands and wrists can get into weird positions and kept there for many hours often with body weight on them. These un-natural positions stretch the tendons, ligaments and muscles in ways that actually slow or stop the healing process. The brace I wear I purchased in an orthopedic store or you can get one online by clicking here.
A few topical methods that work well for small areas that hurt are Arnica Gel and WD-40! Arnica Gelis made from the Arnica montana mountain plant (leopard’s bane) found in the Northwest of the United States as well as central Europe. Athletes and trainers use it for relief of muscle aches and stiffness due to minor injuries, overexertion, falls, and blows. It reduces pain, swelling and discoloration from bruises. Arnica Gel is a non-greasy, non-sticky gel quickly absorbed by the skin. I used this when I had a little flare up. You just rub a little on the affected area and the pain is reduced rather quickly. The other unconventional method is WD-40. The exact WD-40 you get in the hardware or automotive store. I heard form an older gentleman that it was good for arthritis. It definitely helped believe it or not. Just spray a little on the affected area and massage it in. You get relief rather quickly and it is easy to find and cheap!
The last two parts of the equation did not involve any products at all. The first part was rest. Any time that I could I would rest my left hand and wear the brace. Rest is a key ingredient for any injury or condition. The second part was a positive attitude. I literally thought positive and did not let myself get down about the fact that my hand hurt and I was not playing my best. I just tried to have a light attitude and knew that I would not feel like this forever.
After all the healing methods I used, my left hand still feels great to this day and that was about 2 years ago. I do not have my repair shop but I still play a lot of gigs and practice a lot at home. Now that I was cured I wanted to build my hand strength so I would not have anything like this happen again. Please see my other article “Hand Strength For Guitar Players” for the rest of the story. Disclaimer: I am a not a doctor and do not take any responsibility for your health with the information in this article. This is just a report of what worked for me and my condition.
Also see the article about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. ART is very effective for eliminating Tendonitis as well.