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'wrist problems' with my Banjo..

Anders Svensson 14 Jul 99 - 05:07 PM
Mudjack 14 Jul 99 - 05:50 PM
Anders svensson 14 Jul 99 - 07:18 PM
Jeri 14 Jul 99 - 09:05 PM
Anders Svensson 14 Jul 99 - 10:40 PM
Jeri 14 Jul 99 - 11:32 PM
Anders Svensson 14 Jul 99 - 11:48 PM
Jeri 15 Jul 99 - 12:02 AM
susan 15 Jul 99 - 12:13 AM
Anders Svensson 15 Jul 99 - 12:16 AM
Anders Svensson 15 Jul 99 - 12:37 AM
A Celtic Harper 15 Jul 99 - 09:02 AM
Bill in Alabama 15 Jul 99 - 10:35 AM
Songster Bob 15 Jul 99 - 11:07 AM
Jeri 15 Jul 99 - 06:11 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 15 Jul 99 - 07:54 PM
Anders Svensson 22 Jul 99 - 03:27 PM
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Subject: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Anders Svensson
Date: 14 Jul 99 - 05:07 PM

Hello everyone I have a serios problem! I have played the banjo(5-string) for about 2 years now, and recently I feel pain everytime I try to frail on my banjo..

Never felt it before, and I have not played so much the last month just to relax my wrist, but as soon as I grab my banjo and start to play some frailing/doubble thumbing the wrist starts aching again...

Anyone else who´s got the same problem? Some tips would be appreciated folks!!

Maybe (cause i´m rather new on the instrument) I tense my wrist or something like that...


ps I´m rather new on this forum and this is my second post here. Hope to get in contact with people here, and share my interests with you all!! By the way I am from SWEDEN and I only know ONE guy here who play the Banjo..

se ya all!!


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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Mudjack
Date: 14 Jul 99 - 05:50 PM

Hi Anders,
I don't know your age but I solved many aches with the use of Aspirin. Some folks can't take them but if you can use aspirin without side effects, it can allow you more years of playing and other physical sorness prevention. Remember if your age is 45-50 and older, you might consider using aspirin. It works for me.
Dr. Mudjack the mudquack.... (I'm not a doctor)

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Anders svensson
Date: 14 Jul 99 - 07:18 PM

Thanks for your help Mudjack, but I´ve already testet aspirin and some other stuff too (even cortison) but my wrist still aches..

By the way I´m 27 years old and I´m playing in a band in Sweden called "The Banshee". We play Irish trad music and we love the music!! My main instuments are Tin whistle, banjo,singing. Sometimes i play guitar and som mandolin, but I´m not good at it.. Me and my friends are happy amateurs, but we hope to learn more to become a great band sometime.

I also love American old time music, blugrass etc. The sound of a banjo tuned in mountain minor is my favorite!! I think nothing beats that tuning!! My main style is frailing,but I play some 3 finger-picking in some of our songs.

Look at me!! I just talk and talk like a child or something (hehe) but this is so new for me (internet) so many folks to share problems,questions etc. with This forum is great!! As I said before I live in SWEDEN and know ONE person who playes banjo...He lives a looong way from where i live..

Hope to hear from ya all!!


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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Jeri
Date: 14 Jul 99 - 09:05 PM

Hi Anders - welcome!!!
If you have tendonitis, the only thing you can do besides taking anti-inflammatory medicine is rest. If your playing is what caused it, you should change your style of playing so you move your arm more and your wrist less. If you do have tendonitis, it could get worse and affect the feeling and strength in your hand. If your pain doesn't go away on it's own, see your doctor!

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Anders Svensson
Date: 14 Jul 99 - 10:40 PM

Thanks for your help Jeri!!

I think I will rest my banjowrist for a While now.. I don´t wanna get injured for life, so I will practice on my Tin whistle instead.. If the pain goes over I will try to change style of playing as you said.

Hope you don´t mind my question but what is "tendonitis"

thanks again Jeri for your concern!!

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Jeri
Date: 14 Jul 99 - 11:32 PM

Tendons connect muscles to bones. When they get irritated and cause pain, it's called "tendonitis." (The "itis" part just means inflamed or painful.) The tendons in your wrist have to go through a very small "tunnel". Moving your hand can make the tendon rub inside the tunnel and cause tendonitis. Tendonitis in the wrist is very common, but pain may be caused by something else.

I hope I'm making sense!

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Anders Svensson
Date: 14 Jul 99 - 11:48 PM

Thanks again Jeri!!

Now I understand... I think it is time to go visit the doctor about this.. At least quit playing Banjo for a while I think.. Never heard about tendonitis before but i will talk with doctor about it..

By the way do you play banjo too?

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Jeri
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 12:02 AM

Anders, the doctor will probably tell you not to listen to American musicians who give you free medical advice. :-)

I mostly play fiddle, but I play banjo, too. (I'm not very good.) I'm a frailer as well. I just recently got the banjo out of the closet, and I've been trying to re-learn some tunes. I can't remember the chords though, so I guess I'll have to find some books.

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: susan
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 12:13 AM

Hello! i'm susan and i live on the shore in New Jersey, USA. i lived in New York City for 11 years and was a fine artist, sculpting and painting, and art director of magazines. back in 1992 i had the beginings of what i consider the nightmare of my life... Repetetive Strain Injury. Tendonitis, tenosynovitis, DeQuervains' Disease, microtears in the muscles in my hands and on and on. this was all from the mouse and keyboard! my life has changed. i've been to lots of doctors, with no sure fire cures. i am going through a law suit now, and have NO money to my name. i used to be able to make a lot of money. i have attended lots of militant support groups at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, for RSI. we are not alone!!! there is a web site i want you to go to: i have a cousin who plays the cello in florence, italy. her orchestra leader and her attended an rsi support group in london.(she could translate english to italian.) she has had cortisone shots and she says it helps. that's what they want to do with me! i'm terrified! this chemical outlives your body, and there are no guarantees! here is another website i want you to go to: i am so sorry that you are in pain, my friend!!! also, in New York City, there is the "Miller Institute" it is for people with all sorts of hand problems. originally, it was started for musicians. this is such a political problem. the raw facts are just not made public! like the fact that 6 years ago, half of the staff of "The New York Times" was out on disability!!! here is my e-mail address. i'll tell you, moving to the ocean, because i was broke and moved in with a girlfriend, has been such an emotionally healing place for me. instead of what can't i do, it turns into what can i do. everyday that i go to turn the shower knob on, i am reminded of my pain. i hope i haven't made you sadder than you may already be! actually, the reason i'm checking out mudcat, is because my friend anna p is having the mudcats at her home in New Jersey the weekend of july 17 and again the weekend of august 14. i have lots of musician friends that may attend as well. please let me know how your hands are! i cannot stress enough how i can relate! so long! ...susan.

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Anders Svensson
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 12:16 AM

Jeri, you are probably right about the medecine-stuff!!

I´m not a master of the banjo(not with two years experiance..)but i do know most of the common chords. Tell me what tuning and what chords your looking for. Maybe i can be of some help.


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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Anders Svensson
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 12:37 AM

Hi susan!!

Thank you so much for your concern. I Really understand now with more and more posts on this thread, that this seams to be a common problem everywhere.. Not just in music or in work but even in computers.. Maybe i should get more ergonomic equipment to my computer better mouse, keyboard, etc.. I feel some pain when I use the computer acctually. I will go and look at the URL´s you wrote in your letter right now susan.

Hope that you will be better susan, and if you are afraid of cortison shots, don´t be!!

I´ve had some cortison in my right shoulder when I was about 16 (played to much tennis then)and it really felt good after that).

And again susan thanks for your concern I really mean it!!

Hope to hear from you


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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: A Celtic Harper
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 09:02 AM

Occupational Health Medicine. Sports Injury treatment. If you think of your wrist & fingers as miniature athletes, and treat 'em accordingly...

Anyhow, I've had both tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, your basic repetitive motion injury and I can't say I enjoyed the experience. Because I was at the time of injury, and still am a full-time professional performer, I had to produce, just like any football, baseball, Olympic professional athelete, even when injured. Here's the various treatments my medical folks suggested. It all helped, some to greater degree than others, but I suspect one's individual physiology makes the difference.

1. Mega-doses of anti-inflamatories. You'll need a prescription - me they tried first something like a 600mg horsepill of ibuprophen 3 times a day, but for me, that caused water retention, which further exacerbated the swelling at the injured area. It's very hard on the liver and if you forget to take any ant-inflamatory with bland food (crackers or bread) or milk, you can rip up your stomach, too. For some people, ibuprophen can make one feel mentally unfocused as well. It varies - some of my musician friends preferred ibuprophen because the other main anti-inflamatory, naproxen, made them feel weird. For me, a twice a day 800mg of naproxen worked when I had a flare-up, with no water retention. SEE A DOCTOR!!!!! What if you've got some other exciting problem like a pinched nerve? See a doctor, get second opinions if need be until your problem is effectively addressed.

2. Before you perform, ice down the injured part for 5 minutes.

3. Wear a carpal-tunnel ELASTICIZED wrist brace while performing or practicing, and at night, wear the NON-elasticized carpal-tunnel wrist brace to support the wirst, and to keep it in a neutral position as you sleep. SOmetimes sleeping people bend the wrist in toward the arm, which can make the injury worse. If you experience numbness at night after having been asleep, or the sensation of your hand having "gone-to-sleep" with the attendant "pins & needles" or tingling feeling, you might be unconsciously bending your wrist in. You want the non-elastic brace at night so you don't cut off circulation, and the elastic one for performance flexibility. Don't laugh, but the medical term here for the brace is a "wrist cock-up brace!" Here, both styles can be found in drugstores, pharmacies, and medical supply stores.

3. For specifically keyboard work, either typing or mouse or (rarely) piano, my occupational health experts made me a molded to my arm & wrist plaster (or is it a resin now-a-days?) half-cast, to be velcro-ed on as needed. A foam wrist rest is essential for both keyboard and mouse, but the half-cast gives the best support, and has (I believe) prevented re-injury.

4. Physical Therapy. See your doctor. And, if you can find a banjo coach who has studied the Alexander Technique, or Feldenkreisse method, get some re-training. What worked for me and saved my career was a superb harp teacher, who had herself had a superb teacher - Eddie Druzinksy, principal harpist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, who both believe that it is important to diagnose, to analyse the movement, the motion that is comfortable FOR THE INDIVIDUAL!!!! What might be perfectly wonderful harp (or banjo) technique for one person's physiology might be perfectly awful for another. Basically, if it hurts, don't do it. Pain is your friend in that it is telling you that injury is occurring, so STOP doing whatever it is that is hurting you. If it is uncomfortable, it is wrong for your hand and wrist. What is correct technique for you, is that which is comfortable and efficient for you.

Good Luck -HEAL SOON - Write again & let us all know how things are going. Regards, A Celtic Harper

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 10:35 AM


I have played banjo for nearly forty years, frailing, Scruggs style, Melodic (Keith) style, etc. I assume that it is your right wrist which is giving you trouble; if that is the case, it must be that you are getting too tense when you play. That happens to my left hand when I play the fiddle. If it's your frailing hand that's troubling you, you may have too much wrist movement. Try a moderately tight elastic wrist band, to reduce movement, and concentrate on moving the forearm instead. And relax.

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Songster Bob
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 11:07 AM

How do you move your wrist while frailing? If you basically lock the arm and make all the motions from the wrist, that's (a) the problem and (b) not how frailing should be done anyway. The rapping/frailing/clawhammer motion is primarily from the elbow, and the wrist is more or less fixed, not moving much. Then hand drops onto the string and the thumb, coming to rest on a string (5th string is most common and easiest) stops the hand. The finger has already gone past the string, striking it, by the time the thumb stops the hand. And all of this pivoting on the elbow. I used to get a sore elbow and shoulder when I played long hours of old-time banjo, but not a sore wrist. Now that I use a mouse a lot, I get a sore wrist, so have to watch my posture and hand positions.

Anders, if you'll send me your snail-mail address, I'll send you a copy of my banjo book, which reiterates how the hand and arm are used in down-picking. No photos, I'm afraid, but a description that you can use, and tabs of 25 tunes as well.

E-mail me at

Good luck!

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Jeri
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 06:11 PM

Whoops - it's spelled "tendinitis." I found a very simple definition and translation into several languages (but not Swedish) at this page.

One of my responsibilities in my previous job was to counsel people on how to prevent and care for repetitive stress injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome and conditions related to it. So here's where I get up on my soap box about wrist braces. They have about the same effect as tying a big yellow ribbon around your wrist, unless you rely on them to prevent movement. A brace or a ribbon will remind you to be careful and not bend the wrist. If you believe the brace is preventing forceful movement, you could do further damage. Wearing a rigid one will keep you from bending the wrist, but will also lead to sore spots and eventually muscle atrophy. (I'm talking about wearing one for work or play, not while you sleep.)

In my exalted, miss know-it-all opinion, the most important advice people have given you is 1) see your doctor, 2) play in a way that doesn't cause more pain, and 3) see your doctor. OK, I'm off the soap box.

Someone once told me that getting a lot of cortisone shots over a period of time can break down cartilege. She is a veterinarian who said it's common in racehorses. I had never heard that before. I still believe the simple things are best. "Doc, it hurts when I do this." Doctor: "Well, don't do that!"

Anders, thanks for your offer of help with chords and tuning, but I'm afraid I'm in the process of completely re-learning how to play. I have Pete Seeger's book, and a book of chords somewhere around here.

Sorry for being so long-winded, folks.

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 07:54 PM

Anders, when I first started frailing (after 40 years of Seeger style up-picking and 20 years of three finger picking, I experienced pain--particularly when trying to drop-thumb (doublethumb, clawhammer style--described above). I discovered that in order to get my thumb into position to drop onto the inner strings I was angling my wrist down (not toward the strings, but towards the ground). I stopped having pain when I did what Songster Bob explained above--keep the wrist straight, move from the elbow. Keep the wrist in a natural position and you might have relief from the pain. You may have to start over on the drop-thumbing, but it'll all come back. But, by all means, if you continue to have pain, see a good orthopedist. The wrist brace sounds like a good idea, too. --seed

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Subject: RE: 'wrist problems' with my Banjo..
From: Anders Svensson
Date: 22 Jul 99 - 03:27 PM

Thanks all of ya!!

Sorry for not "showing up" earlier but i´ve been on vacation..

Thanks for all hints and advices folks!! I´m going to see a doctor next week and until that vist i´ll rest my wrist from the banjo..

When my wrist gets better(I hope) I will practice my frailing like Songster Bob say it should be done. I think that I move my wrist to much.

Regards to ya all!!

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