*** If you're experiencing pain, tingling, numbness, etc., please seek medical attention. ***
You know what this is mainly about? Nerve damage
, what's sometimes called nerve entrapment. Please check out the PDF I linked to above.
I'll mince no words - I've had two serious nerve entrapment problems due to not warming up properly and playing with bad technique. (This can happen even on "low-impact" instruments and is something that *many* musicians - unfortunately - have happen to them, not just percussionsts.)
** It is
possible to cause irreversible nerve damage
via bad technique resulting in repetitive stress injuries. ** I learned about this the hard way - I almost
The old-school way of treating nerve entrapment is: surgery
. Meaning that you have an invasive procedure that is supposed to restore function. If this is the route taken, you will be doing physiotherapy for quite a while afterwards. And you won't
be playing for a while - months, even. On top of all that, surgery just plain hurts
. (There's cutting involved, after all!
One of the more "modern" (to my mind, more commonsense) ways of treatment is to get the person off playing in order for them to heal up, put them in wrist splints, and teach them stretches. In the mid-1990s, I ended up wearing wrist splints and not being able to play a single note
for *six months.*
More recently, I've developed a repetitive stress injury due to not paying attention to the way I'm using the computer keyboard. These kinds of injuries are very
common now, due to the fact that just about everyone types on computer keyboards for work and at home.
I had to not play at all for 3 months in late 2007-early 2008 to get one part of the problem (nerve entrapment/compression in my left wrist) to heal up. i *still* have compression/entrapment at a place in my left palm where a couple of tendons and ligaments that attach to the ring finger meet. it's a very common repetitive stress injury (RSI, for short). For that, i stretch, I use an anti-inflammatory medicine in gel form (it goes right on my hand), and i try to be smart about taking breaks, whether I'm typing or playing.
I don't always use commonsense at this, and I have reinjured myself several times. Because I have some ways to help alleviate the pain, I'm more apt to pull back and just take care of it now - plus the warm-up/cooldown stuff really works.
When i don't bother to stretch, i inevitably pay for it.
Please don't make the mistakes I've made, OK? They start showing up big-time from about age 30 onward... they generally don't occur when you're younger and more flexible. What your body can handle easily at age 15 - or 25, or 30 - is not
the same thing as what happens at 35+. It's not as if you're falling apart - but body parts *are* subject to wear and tear over time. and - unlike car parts - they can't be replaced.
Preventive maintenance goes a long way to ensuring that you'll be able to keep playing over the longer term. (20, 30 - even 50 - years down the road.) I think some of the older masters - like Mamady and Famoudou - have learned that the hard way. (Due to their years of playing in the ballets, where I can't help but think that injuries are constant; also that there are no substitute drummers or dancers.)