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Hand cramps during a gig....looking for both prevention and cure....


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#1 jdougan1

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 09:42 AM

On Saturday my band had a 4-hour bar gig. Somewhere in the in the middle of the first set I start getting some serious hand cramps in BOTH hands. At the time I was playing bass (I play bass about 2/3rd of the time, guitar and harmonica about 1/3rd). The cramps were pretty serious, and lasted all night. I had to seriously cut back on the complexity of my bass lines (which might be good - people complain I put in too many runs already....). The guitar playing wasn't as badly impaired - but my leads were certainly slower than usual.

This was really strange sensation. The cramp wasn't really painful - it was really more like paralysis because I had trouble moving my fingers. I have had the occasional hand cramp before, but never in both hands at the same time and never lasting an entire evening. I wasn't doing anything different from usual. The only thing I can think of is that I didn't eat very much before the gig, and had a pretty stressful day.

I even worried for a while that I was having a heart attack - but didn't have any additional symptoms.

I have two questions:

1) Is there some immediate cure for this type of thing? Something that I could take at the gig to relieve the problem immediately? Aspirin? Motrin? Vitamins? Calcium?

2) What causes this (other than the obvious answer - guitar playing...). In particular, why would the problem develop suddenly like that. I am hardly a novice guitar player.

3) What can be dome to avoid this. I know that strength exercises and warm-up might help. Anything else?

Thanks!

-- Jim

#2 Derek <3's Pennywise.

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 09:50 AM

Do some finger exercises before the gig. I play the drums and i used to get leg cramps all the time but someone told to try some leg exercises, worked out good for me. Oh yeah! And drink some juice if you are having cramps, that works..

#3 madaxeman

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 09:52 AM

I guess some Tylenol might work before the show, but if this is the first time it's happened I'd say you either have a problem with your hands (go to doctor and have checked) or you mentioned you didn't eat and had a bad day so maybe stress would cause it? Do you normally play for 4 hours? Did you warm up prior to playing? You may have just stressed your hand to quickly and they never recovered? Was the place cold? It really could have been alot of things just try to narrow it down might take a while. Just go over how you prepped for the show did you do anything out of the ordinary?



Sorry I can't be of more help, but if it happens again I would get it looked at.


Good Luck.
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#4 hendrix05

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 10:29 AM

QUOTE (jdougan1 @ Jan 16 2006, 06:42 PM)
On Saturday my band had a 4-hour bar gig.  Somewhere in the in the middle of the first set I start getting some serious hand cramps in BOTH hands.  At the time I was playing bass (I play bass about 2/3rd of the time, guitar and harmonica about 1/3rd).  The cramps were pretty serious, and lasted all night.  I had to seriously cut back on the complexity of my bass lines (which might be good - people complain I put in too many runs already....).  The guitar playing wasn't as badly impaired - but my leads were certainly slower than usual.

This was really strange sensation.  The cramp wasn't really painful - it was really more like paralysis because I had trouble moving my fingers.  I have had the occasional hand cramp before, but never in both hands at the same time and never lasting an entire evening.  I wasn't doing anything different from usual.  The only thing I can think of is that I didn't eat very much before the gig, and had a pretty stressful day.

I even worried for a while that I was having a heart attack - but didn't have any additional symptoms.

I have two questions:

1)  Is there some immediate cure for this type of thing?  Something that I could take at the gig to relieve the problem immediately?  Aspirin?  Motrin? Vitamins?  Calcium?

2)  What causes this (other than the obvious answer - guitar playing...).  In particular, why would the problem develop suddenly like that.  I am hardly a novice guitar player.

3)  What can be dome to avoid this.  I know that strength exercises and warm-up might help.  Anything else?

Thanks!

-- Jim


im get bad hand cramps if i write excessively... in tests and the like. i have never experienced it while playing but when it cramps in tests i just bend my finegrs back towards my wrist a bit to relieve it. hope it doesnt cramp up again but if ti does i hope my method works for ya
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#5 -=FreeBird=-

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 10:42 AM

Maybe you were nervous, or subconciously nervous. It has happened to me...

#6 rweezera

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 10:46 AM

you are better off with a doctors advice...

the fact that it was both hands at the same time and it was painless sounds like it could be a more serious problem. it can't jurt to get a real doctor's advice, just to make sure...

#7 improviduto

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 10:50 AM

Gripmaster has helped me out.

http://www.gripmaster.net/gripmaster
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#8 thewafroman

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 11:01 AM

Well this would cause you to have to pause temprarily but take your thumb and index fingers and squeeze tightly the two little things between your upper lip and nose together. Then start mvoing your hands (you should be able to do it without any pain). Its some thing with nerves. It works trust me, at least it dose for me.
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#9 jdougan1

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 11:44 AM

To update my own thread.....

I have been googling all morning. here isn't much out there - at least that I have found yet. There is a bit of stuff on a neurological condition called "focal dystonia" - which I hope isn't the issue because it sounds nasty.

There is also the suggestion that tension plays a role. As I noted, it was pretty a pretty stressful day. Not only was the wife giving me the "you abandon me to go gig..." bit, but my football team (Seattle Seahawks) were in the middle of a nail-biting playoff game. I even came close to starting a fight with some vocal Redskins fans while we were setting up smile.gif

Anyway, I probably was unusually uptight before the gig and may have unconsciously reacted by gripping harder.

I am hoping that at rehearsal tomorrow, with less stress and better diet, the problem will have corrected itself.

Please do continue with suggestions though.

-- Jim

#10 rob295

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 12:23 PM

I would suggest adding a couple gentle songs in spots for your hands to relax and for your band to have a sorta 'break'. Some gentle jammin. When ever I'm stretching my guitar speed I can get them. It is often just the Lactic Acid build up. Its not major, as long as you let them take a rest at good points. I prob dont know what I'm talking about tho unsure.gif

#11 Craig61

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 12:44 PM

Asprin and Advil are better for cramps because they also have an anti-inflammatory component to them. A nerve problem will general occur only on one side of the body not both (ex one hand not both hands) If you were dehydrated at all it would cause both hands to cramp. Gator-aide about an hour before would help with hydration and no alcohol. Stretching your hands opposite of the motion you are performing will help alleviate some of the discomfort.

#12 dadfad

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 12:52 PM

Take Magnesium-Calcium supplemements (you might actually notice a difference in cramping within a week or so). Also, use DMSO as a rub-in before you warm up. DMSO is (a brief thing for those who've never heard of it) a chemical made as a turpentine by-product. About twenty-years ago in logging companies in the Northwestern US, loggers who were getting older were given jobs in the turpentine plants where there wasn't as much strenuous physical labor, etc. Some of them noticed surprising improvenments in their arthritis. Researchers isolated a compound, DMSO, that appeared to be the cause of it. Further research showed that it was indeed the cause and it had other properties as well. If used immediately it would also lessen the severity of cuts, burns and crushing injuries and speed healing time. I'm not gonna get into the clinical tests done on animals, etc. Pretty cruel stuff, but anyway they found it worked. Now, being a substance that had not been traditionally used for medicinal purposes, it would need long-term, trials, clinical-studies, double-blind tests, etc, etc... all the gazzilions of dollars worth of research a medicine needs to be sold to the public. However because this was a common by-product that had been around for many years (sometimes used as a solvent, etc), it couldn't be patented. So if some company sunk a zillion into proving it was okay to use on humans, any other company could just start making it too. There was no way to re-coup the studies-investment. Sooo... no-go for DMSO.

However, it can be used on animals without any of these tests. You see it for sale in general-stores in ranchland areas pretty often. You can buy it in most good tack-shops where you get bridles, saddles and other riding supplies. It's marketed as a horse liniment. Usually you can get it as either a liquid or a gel. I prefer the gel myself. It's usually about twenty dollars a mediun sized jar (but I've seen it as cheap as $40 gallon in South Dakota). You rub it in, it's almost odorless. It goes right into your skin right away. In fact this is one of the properties it has, it can be used as a sort of "carrier." Any chemical mixed with it will go right through your skin and into your blood stream (whether that chemical is vitamin-E or DDT or arsenic). So, especially in the case of a burn or cut, you can mix a little vitamin-E in with it and it takes it right down deep inside to help heal besides having healing properties of its own. It has a very very faint grlic smell. Seconds after you rub it in you'll actually get a slight taste of garlic in your mouth.

So in any case, it helps many people, myself included and anyone I've recommended it to. I have a jar or bottle in my gig-bag and medicine cabinet (and in my desk right here at work) and use it whenever appropriate.

This is my... whatever... my "regime' " for playing. I take magnesium supplements to avoid cramps a little better in the first place. And then I take one aspirin and rub a little DMSO into my hands and knuckles a few minutes before I start playing. Anyway, from one "old-coot" to another (slightly younger one laugh.gif ), I hope that helps you!
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#13 -=FreeBird=-

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 01:13 PM

I am most curious about DMSO dadfad, but I can see 20 years from now in the paper: Old time blues musician has mysterious cancer all over his hands..... laugh.gif being a turpinetine bi-product and all...

Edited by -=FreeBird=-, 16 January 2006 - 01:14 PM.


#14 Joe Hard

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 01:18 PM

Vitamin B plus C. Two a day for about a week to ten days then one a day. Your energy level will also increase. You might even want to wear a Tensor wrist band, on each wrist. They are designed to support your wrists and keep all the tendons warm so no damage will occur to them. Here they are $11.00 each.

#15 dadfad

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 01:33 PM

QUOTE (-=FreeBird=- @ Jan 16 2006, 04:13 PM)
I am most curious about DMSO dadfad, but I can see 20 years from now in the paper: Old time blues musician has mysterious cancer all over his hands.....  laugh.gif  being a turpinetine bi-product and all...


Or....(to be more optimistic)......

"Old-Time Blues Musician Hung Like A Horse From Using Horse-Liniment" laugh.gif
Un-plugged is not the same as never-was-plugged-in-to-begin-with.

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#16 Gibshredcamel

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 01:37 PM

man i love dadfad wanna adopt me

#17 dadfad

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 01:43 PM

QUOTE (Gibshredcamel @ Jan 16 2006, 04:37 PM)
man i love dadfad wanna adopt me


Ha! Thanks, but I'm still trying to get out of poverty paying for our last litter! laugh.gif
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#18 Derek5272

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 04:44 PM

QUOTE (jdougan1 @ Jan 16 2006, 01:44 PM)
There is also the suggestion that tension plays a role.  As I noted, it was pretty a pretty stressful day.  Not only was the wife giving me the "you abandon me to go gig..." bit, but my football team (Seattle Seahawks) were in the middle of a nail-biting playoff game.  I even came close to starting a fight with some vocal Redskins fans while we were setting up smile.gif


Go Seahawks!

#19 loudandproud

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 04:50 PM

eat a banana.

Spike your patasium intake and vitamins.

Work on plenty of excercises.
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#20 kkatarn327

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 05:49 PM

First of all let me tell you to be very careful. This is a very serious problem and can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a very bad.... well, syndrome.

See a professional to see what stage this problem is in. The doctor can also help you with curing it etc. Although difficult, I recommend you stop playing/typing etc until you see a doctor.


Please feel free to email or PM me for further information etc.
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