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Tennis Elbow and La Pompe?



  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited July 2018 Posts: 3,025
    Hey Chris, besides playing guitar I also do a lot of home renovation, boat building, luthiery, etc, etc. Plus I'm 62 and from time to time I get both tennis elbow and 'golfers' elbow. Laying off for a while, ice, ibuprofen and stretching fixes it for me. Mainly the laying off and stretching though. It won't get better unless you break the cycle of inflammation if it is actually tendonitis and not some other structural issue.

    My basic rule of thumb is if it hurts don't do it. That is why I try not to use too much ibuprofen (plus it upsets my stomach) and ice since I don't want to mask the pain. But if it is bad enough you need to do something at least initially to cut down the inflammation or it just keeps getting aggravated. Good luck for a speedy recovery!
  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x3, Petrarca, Catelluccia, Hoyer, Epiphone & Beuscher resonator.
    Posts: 613
    Hi folks. Thanks for all the tips and advice. As always with these forums there will be some that miss the point or go off topic but here are the facts of my case.
    I had what was a serious case of Tennis Elbow (which is inflammation of the tendon that joins the forearm extensor muscles to the bone at the elbow) some ten years ago caused by an industrial repetitive strain.
    There was no pain in the tendons on the inside of the joint - aka Golfer's Elbow.
    It was diagnosed correctly with ultrasound scans and treated over a few weeks with massage and the little sucker gadgets that apply electrical impulses for a few minutes each week.
    So when the pain returned this time I knew exactly what it was, but other than practising la pompe I had done nothing else that could have caused it.
    Yes, I may be moving or sitting wrong sometimes but again, I am usually aware of such things and would not continue playing anything for long if I was not comfortable.
    There was no other associated pain.
    I have been playing (on and off) for fifty years with all types of guitars and styles; acoustics (big and small) electrics, Spanish flamenco, resonator blues with the one common thread that I usually played with my fingers only, no picks.
    I had never had any physical problems except maybe from sore callouses from overdoing it after some time off.
    There was one exception:
    I had a beautiful Hofner Committee archtop from the late '50s which I never got comfortable with due to its size. As a large archtop it requires a bit of a stretch to get the right arm over the top but still have the right hand in the right position halfway between the bridge and the end of the fretboard; this combined with an overly thick 'C' shaped neck which meant I had to keep my left wrist low down and I never did reach the required compromise. Sad to say I sold it on, even though I couldn't play it, I still miss that beauty!
    Otherwise, I have played all shapes and sizes ok.
    I was a fan of Django from way back but only really started to study the style seriously over the last three or four years and of course that has meant learning the correct right hand picking as well as the (unique to this style) left hand chording technique which is La Pompe.
    I should add that I am physically of average build, neither tall nor short and have average size hands.
    I have personal family reasons that dictate I can't travel far from home for now, so it is not possible for me to commit to playing with others or wasting time rehearsing with anybody when I can not commit to any gig bookings so for now I only play alone and for my own amusement.
    While I regard La Pompe as an essential part of the GJ style, it would be no great tragedy if I have to give up on that; I have some play along backing tracks anyway. I may just keep trying to develop my own style of solo playing incorporating what I can take from the Django style too.
    Anyway, the cortesone injection has certainly eased the pain over the past week and I have an appointment with the doctor next Monday at which time she will probably refer to me to the physio. I will do whatever they recommend; treatment, excercises, rest etc, before picking up a guitar.
    Thanks for all your input, but what I meant to ask was simply this:
    Has anyone else suffered tennis elbow from playing la pompe?
  • Posts: 3,051
    Nah, not me.
    Hope you have a speedy recovery though.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    Posts: 449
    I have an appointment with the doctor next Monday at which time she will probably refer to me to the physio. I will do whatever they recommend; treatment, excercises, rest etc, before picking up a guitar.

    Yes when it comes to guitar it is best to trust the experts.... physiotherapists.

    I think it is a terrible idea to rest completely.

    There are lots of books on physiotherapy you can read, they are fun, I have done so.

    There are two schools of advice for how to proceed with a sporting injury, which is what you have. One, rest completely and you cannot sue my employer. Two, if you feel better as you play then you are probably not doing harm, if it feels worse from the start and steadily gets worse then it might be too soon for that level.

    If you want to know how to practice safely Chris email me.


  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,025
    I have not had tennis elbow from la pompe. Just from too much home maintenance, etc.
  • constantineconstantine New York✭✭✭✭ stringphonic
    Posts: 413
    Got a pretty bad case of tennis elbow last year, 6 weeks of PT and a cortisone shot at the end calmed it down. Today I start PT for golf elbow (same arm) and we'll see what happens...not sure why it all happened in the past year. I am using a bit of a fatter neck guitar but my bad elbow is the right arm not the fretting arm.
  • cjlcjl
    Posts: 44

    I've been meaning to comment on this topic for the last week .... I'd played guitar (not jazz!) for about twenty years and then stopped completely in 2000.

    After a ten year break I started playing again, and soon started trying to play jazz, and then GJ ..... that's when the problems started!

    Trying to practice the scales, the arps, and the 'finger-crunching chords' (as someone I know describes them) soon started getting painful, and I realised I had Golfer's Elbow in my left arm.

    I'd suffered this in my right arm (I spent a couple of months doing some unaccustomed manual labour while doing my house up) so I knew what it was ... but this time round, the usual cortisone shot wasn't accompanied by a complete cessation of what caused it in the first place, so it continued ... and continued....

    I tried a couple of 'rest periods' (two periods of two or three months iirc) but, no, it still hurt, and the doctors don't like giving you more than three cortisone injections, which in any case only kill the pain - there's absolutely no curative value to them as far as I can tell.

    So I ended up having the operation .... six weeks off work, and I made sure I didn't touch the guitar for about three months. It worked (touch wood!) although now and again I still get some very worrying twinges.

    Here's the thing.... I was always a very tense player, and have suffered from stage fright all my life, to the extent where even if I was playing with people (not just in front of people) I used to get very nervous, even sometimes experiencing stabbing pains in my back and shoulders.

    It's my belief that a big part of tendonitis is caused not just by the repetitive movements that damage the tendon, but also by the tension (whether from 'performance anxiety' or even bad posture) that places unnecessary strain on your elbow.

    So, as in most things in life ..... relaxation is the key, if you can manage it!

    Good luck with your elbow, and everybody else's!

  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    edited July 2018 Posts: 449
    Tension is a tricky word. In order to play dynamically we need to feel a variety of effort. Tension may be thought to be the use of large force, which is often appropriate. But also it may be the consequence of global excess of effort in maintaining posture.

    This second definition can be more usefully considered in engineering terms and in particular the terms stress and strain.

    WORDS MATTER. When people discuss physical experiences then the precise definition of words, in it's absence, leads to confusion.

    It is appropriate to use FORCE, or STRENGTH, or EFFORT if you will when playing.

    The definition of tension which explains the difficulties that the human body has in sustaining an activity without sustaining harm needs to be seriously considered.

    One must use force but also one needs to learn to allow the force to dissipate between exertion.

    Luckily though there is only one real problem for musicians, IMPATIENCE.

    Playing too much at a fast tempo without learning to relax, or alternatively failing to allow antagonistic muscles to balance after a movement, and to stop applying stress and strain to connective tissue when that stress and strain do not actually result in movement but instead increase RESISTANCE and necessitate the application of unnessecary force to complete a movement.

    .........Gosh this is a hard post to attempt on a Friday night.....

    The previous poster is right to note that the medical interventions, and in particular injections of hydro cortisol, do not actually address the cause but merely seek to ameliorate symptoms. They are also intrinsically dangerous because the mask symptoms and deny the sufferer the feedback (pain) which (before an inflammatory cascade has been invoked) which is valuable to the learning experience.

    The cause of all problems for musicians is IMPATIENCE.

    Impatience is the ONLY problem, which is IRONIC because I am not going to edit this post.......and it should really have taken a few months to write.

  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x3, Petrarca, Catelluccia, Hoyer, Epiphone & Beuscher resonator.
    edited July 2018 Posts: 613
    Thanks for everyone's input.
    I should explain that the ultrasound scans showed a tear in the tendon, not just inflammation. Damage to tendons can take a long time to repair. Stretching, excercises or playing through the pain will only prolong the problem.
    So for now, the pain has subsided after the cotisone injection, such that now it just feels like a bruise; as if somebody smacked my elbow with a hammer two weeks ago!
    But yes, as Dave and others have pointed out, this treatment is only a temporary relief from the inflammation, NOT a cure or even a real help to repair the damage. And yes, the doctor did explain that, and I do understand the relief from pain now does NOT mean I can go ahead and start playing guitar immediately. The way I understand it is that the injection is to give some short-term relief while the patient has to rest completely the affected arm allowing time for the tendon to fully repair and recover. Some other physio may help but there is no way to rush the process.
    I have an appointment with the doctor on Monday and she will refer me to the physiotherapist and hopefully I can get that started in the coming week.
    I will relay any useful tips from that as and when I can.
    (Even typing this is not exactly pain free!)
  • asd123321asd123321 ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 119
    Of course you have played too much. There is nothing like skipping a day regularly to allow tissues to recover. I do finger picking 1 day and with a pick the next.
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