Finger Cramping – Guitar – Bass – Banjo – Ukulele – Violin – Cello

November 29, 2022

Finger Cramps in String Instrument Players

Guitar Player Finger Cramps Finger cramps will put a stop to your playing, and can be really painful. They are common in players who play hard, play long, and are predisposed to cramping. If you are reading this, you’ve likely already read a bunch, tried a bunch, and nothing has worked. It’s time to look at “PERPS”. What is a PERP? A perp in the world of music injuries is not a perpetrator, but rather a perpetuator. What I’m about to tell you is missed by many doctors. Sometimes the cause of your problem is less important than what keeps the problem going, and they are not the same thing. Your body wants to heal, it is designed to heal itself. When it is not capable of healing itself or avoiding recurring pain, or in this case finger cramps, we have to ask ourselves a question. Why is it that not all guitarists get finger cramps, and what in my life, could be leading to this recurring problem for which resolution seems impossible. Common perpetuating factors are things like: Day Jobs Sleep positions Previous accidents or injuries Power tool use Video games Gardening Working out Motorcycles and bikes Sports...

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Hank Williams – A Story of a  musician, Chronic Pain, Doctors, and Addiction

November 17, 2022

Hank Williams back pain, doctors, addiction, death.

Hank Williams – A Story of a  musician, Chronic Pain, Doctors, and Addiction Hank Williams is often considered to be one of the most influential singers, songwriters, and musicians of the 20th century. His life was cut short at the age of 29, on January 1, 1953. If by some miracle, he were still alive today, he would be 99 years old. Hank Williams suffered from debilitating back pain for a good part of his life. It is reported that in 1941 he suffered a back injury after falling from a bull during a rodeo. Prior to the injury in Texas, beginning in the late 1930’s, Williams had already started drinking. Some sources say he started drinking heavily at age 13. It has also been reported that his substance abuse worsened dramatically in the presence of low back pain. In late 1951, Hank Williams fell while hunting, and his back pain returned with a vengeance. It was bad enough that painkillers like morphine and alcohol became his medicine to ease the pain. On December 13, 1951, a little over 1 year before his death, he had spinal fusion surgery at Vanderbilt University Hospital. He was only 28 years old...

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Touring Musician Stress, Injury, and Illness.

November 15, 2022

Dr. Lou with Sarah Shook

“We don’t get paid for playing, we get paid for riding” The job of a touring musician is not just playing gigs. For those who don’t live the lifestyle of a moderately successful touring musician, it is hard to grasp what goes in to a “day at the office.” The physical and mental wear and tear of being on the road is real. In over 20 years of working with musicians who travel by plane, tour bus, sprinter van, even rusty Subaru with trailer, it’s work for all of them. One “A-List” musician patient of mine once told me something to the effect of “of course I’m blessed beyond belief, but I’m still not at home tonight.” Success of all types requires sacrifice. The hour or two on stage is often preceded by the sound check, and the unloading of gear, the drive to the venue, the sleep on the bus the night before, eating out for every meal, and the list of stressors goes on and on. When working with a touring musician it is critical to recognize the connection between mental, physical, and chemical stress. All types of stressors break people down slowly, and while on the...

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Is There A Special Doctor For Musicians?

October 19, 2022

Dr. Lou with The Eagles of Death Metal

Is There A Special Doctor For Musicians? What separates the health issues of musicians from those of “ordinary” people? Diet? No. Exercise? No. Genetics? No. As a musician, does your doctor know the difference between carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in secretary in a legal office, and CTS in the wrists and hands in a flautist? Do they understand what needs to change, and how? What about the difference between neck pain in a guitarist vs neck pain in a cellist? Does numbness in the face of a tuba player differ from that of a harmonica player, and how? What separates specific health issues of musicians from ordinary people are the hours of focused practice and repetition, of the mind and body. Diabetes is a lifestyle related disease that knows no boundaries. Cancer affects everyone. High blood pressure – mostly a lifestyle issue that affects everyone. Musicians have specific repetitive stress issues that often affect the nerves, muscles, joints and other moving parts of the body. PRMD’s or practice related musculoskeletal disorders are real, and may impact the musician in the short as well as long term. PRMD’s have ended tours, ended careers, or led to invasive surgeries, some of...

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Self Care Tools For Musicians On A Tour Bus – Dr. Lou Jacobs

September 21, 2022

Dr. Lou with Gary Clark Jr. in 2022

Best body work tools to take on the road. I work with a lot of musicians, their crew, and management. When you are on a tour bus for weeks on end, it can be really rough on your body. While recently working with Gary Clark Jr., it came to my attention that I should have recommendations for tools that you might use on a tour bus to help ease the aches and pains of performing and being on the road. Heating Pad Theracane Percussion Massager Formula 303 *Ball in a sock *Exercise and stretching videos with Dr. Lou Heating pads are comforting, they promote blood flow and often reduce the tension and soreness of achy muscles. They are cheap, easy to use, and very helpful when you just feel sore and tight. Your tour bus should have ample outlets to plug one in. The Theracane is a plastic cane-like tool that is used to work on knots in muscle by oneself. They are designed so that the user can put pressure on any part of the body, to loosen it up. No need for tour bus electricity for this tool, it’s old school. A percussion massager does similar work...

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Shin Splints: What are they? How can I fix them?

September 14, 2022

Shin Splints and How to Get Rid of Them by Dr. Aaron Vela What is a shin splint? To fully understand how to get rid of shin splints, we need to understand a little bit of anatomy. The tibia is your shin bone. On the outside of bone is an important layer of tissue called the periosteum which is involved in healing bone and acting as an anchor for ligaments and tendons to attach. The periosteum also has a lot of nerve endings that feel pain. Ligaments are connections from bone to bone, while tendons are connections from muscle to bone. There are several muscles that attach to the shin bone. In the case of shin splints, usually the culprits are either the tibialis anterior muscle (if the pain is more on the front-outside of the shin) or the soleus muscle (if the pain is more on the front-inside of the shin).   Shin splints are caused when the tendons from these muscles repetitively pull on the periosteum, creating inflammation and irritation to this very nerve dense tissue, creating signals of pain. The reason why the tendons irritate the periosteum usually has to do with a combination of things,...

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Michael Jackson. Prince. Tom Petty. Back Pain and Opioids.

August 24, 2022

Michael Jackson, Prince, and Tom Petty walk into a bar…. Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009. Prince was found dead on April 21, 2016. Tom Petty died on October 2, 2017. Though all very different personalities, they had one common note. Their causes of death were related to dependency on pain medication, ultimately for back pain. Although Michael Jackson’s problems are reported to have started after he was severely burned while filming the infamous Pepsi commercial, his pain later in life was related to low back pain caused by a fall on stage. Or off the stage as it were. At his time of death, his house was filled with painkillers like oxycontin, demerol and diprivan. According to testimony given by friends and former doctors, Michael Jackson was severely addicted to pain killers and other forms of anesthesia. What is not well, or publicly documented is what he tried for his back that didn’t involve medications. Perhaps it was too late, and he was so addicted to the pain meds from his 3rd degree burns, that natural methods for back pain were out of the question for him. It’s sad to think he may have had other options....

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What is Scoliosis and How is it treated?

August 20, 2022

What is scoliosis & what are the available options? by Dr. Aaron Vela Have you been told by a healthcare professional that you or your child has scoliosis? What is scoliosis? Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine that is seen in a front to back, or back to front, view of the spine. The spine normally has 3 curves that can be seen when looking at the spine from the side. These normal curves are in your neck, your mid back, and your lower back. These normal curves function as shock absorbers for the body. Scoliosis is a lateral curve in the spine or more easily put, a left or right curve in the spine that may lead to premature degeneration, pain, postural abnormalities, and restricted mobility. There are generally 5 different types of scoliosis. Congenital – meaning the person was born with it. Neuromuscular – which is caused by neuromuscular (nerve and muscle) conditions and their impact on the body, such as cerebral palsy. Degenerative – which occurs when the joints between vertebrae in the back of the spine have deteriorated. Functional – which is more or less a temporary type of scoliosis that can be...

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Dentists, Hygienists, and neck pain. The whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.

July 10, 2022

Dentists, Hygienists, and neck pain. Dentists and Hygienists spend their careers stooped over patients, focusing on tiny objects in their mouths while maneuvering and manipulating equipment. Their intensity and focus are necessary to doing a great job, with the least amount of pain, but they are sacrificing their bodies, for your mouths. Neck pain is extremely common in dental professionals. Research has shown that 5% of people who suffer with neck pain are eventually legally disabled by the pain. A study published in the British Dental Journal reported that nearly 30% of premature retirements of dentists surveyed were due to musculoskeletal disorders. And in In a study done at UCSF, questionnaire responses indicated that 46-71% of dental students of all four years experienced neck, shoulder, and/or back pain, with more than 70% reporting pain by their 3rd year. It is not uncommon for dentists to wake up one day and wonder how they ended up “like this.” The wear and tear of repetitive work by the dentist or hygienist, leads to a slow accumulation of dysfunction, degeneration, and pain. One day, the straw breaks the camels’ back, and Dr. Molar wakes up in pain. It’s probably not too late...

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The Difference Between Good Skaters & Great Skaters – Portland, Maine

June 15, 2022

Dr. Aaron Vela - Skateboarding Chiropractor - Portland, Maine

The Difference Between Good Skaters & Great Skaters                                       By Dr. Aaron Vela, Skateboarding Chiropractor – Portland, ME Every skateboarder strives to learn new tricks. To throw down their new trick on a new set of stairs, over a new hip, or in a combo like a kickflip, back lip, or tre-flip 50-50. The goal is to challenge yourself to better yourself, and have fun while doing it. But why do some skaters excel at skateboarding and why do others tend to stagnate in skill and development? Potential factors include experience, confidence, strategies in learning new tricks, and perfecting them. Genetics, drive, and physical aptitude may also play a role. While these are indeed factors, they are not necessarily the strongest indicators as to who will be a highly skilled skater and who will not be. What is a strong indicator? The answer is optimal neuromuscular and biomechanical control – the ability of your brain to control your muscles, joints, fingers, and toes in a highly efficient and accurate way. Enter the long, technical medical jargon: proprioception. In simplest terms, proprioception...

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