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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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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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: The Guitar Player and Bass Player.

March 26, 2022

Dr. Lou with Motionless in White - Spring 2022 - Cross Insurance Arena - Portland, Maine - Trinity Of Terror Tour

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome And The Guitarist Prevention. Management. Healing. In this brief post, you will learn about the anatomy of the carpal tunnel, what carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) does to the guitarist, and how to prevent, manage and treat CTS yourself. The carpal tunnel is a band of ligamentous tissue that traverses the wrist. Think of it as a stretchable bridge over a stream. Underneath the carpal tunnel ligament, also known as the “Flexor Retinaculum” or “carpal ligament”, is where your forearm and finger tendons live. It is also where the nerves and blood vessels run along side one another to nourish and control your hands. All of these structures are packed pretty tightly through the wrist, under the flexor retinaculum. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when inflammation due to repetitive stress, or scar tissue and adhesion due to repetitive stress accumulates under the flexor retinaculum. This is one of the more common playing related musculoskeletal disorders or PRMD’s in guitarists and bassists. Beyond pain, numbness, tingling and even weakness may occur in the hands and fingers. Loss of dexterity, and even muscle loss may occur in severe cases. The surgical treatment of this involves cutting the flexor retinaculum and...

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Shoulder pain in guitarists. Bass Player shoulder pain.

March 15, 2022

Dark Star Orchestra 2022

Why do so many guitarists have shoulder issues? It’s really quite simple. One arm is up to work the neck and frets of the guitar, the other arm is down to strum.The strap of the guitar pulls down on the shoulder of the hand on the neck of the guitar, applying pressure to the trapezius and elevator scapula muscles, among others. Looking down at music, or the guitar itself puts additional strain on the neck and upper trapezius muscles. This strain makes the head feel heavier, but it’s the muscles of the upper traps, upper back, shoulder and neck muscles that do most of the work to provide your neck with the angle to look down. This combination, in conjunction with stress of life, is plenty to cause chronic neck and shoulder pain and fatigue. I am often asked, when is it too late? When has the problem become “unfixable?” Fortunately, until the spine or shoulder joint itself is involved in the way of degeneration (arthritis), disc disease, or reversal of the curve of the neck, most discomfort is muscular in origin. These muscles run down into the shoulders and will make everything hurt, but the bark is often bigger than...

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Steve Vai Had Trigger Finger Surgery!

March 3, 2021

Trigger finger pain and immobility could end a musician's career. Call Dr. Lou at (207) 774-6251

Guitar player magazine reported that the great Steve Vai is recovering from surgery following a “trigger finger” diagnosis, which was the result of the sustained holding of a chord. What is trigger finger, how does it affect musicians, and what can you do to prevent and resolve it? What Is Trigger Finger? Simply put, trigger finger is when a finger gets stuck in the bent position. Much like a tendonitis, the soft tissue becomes inflamed and extremely contracted. Sometimes the finger releases and snaps, like a trigger. The medical term for this condition is “stenosing tenosynovitis,” which basically means that there is a shrinking of the sheath of tissue around a tendon of the finger that causes it to become restricted and contracted with inflammation. Slow fingers? Poor Muscle Memory? Musician Finger Speed Solved. The cause of trigger finger is often repetitive stress. In musicians, “Playing Related Musculoskeletal Disorders” are called PRMD’s. Prevention of PRMD’s includes proper warming up, stretching, strengthening, post play cool down, taking breaks and evaluating daily activities that could make one more vulnerable to PRMD’s. Things like computer work, cooking, driving, sleep position, history of injuries and activities may all contribute to vulnerability and perpetuation...

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Saxophone Injuries – Musician Injury Specialist

February 18, 2021

Saxaphone injuries are more common than you might think. Call Dr. Lou. Over 18 years specializing in the drug free care of musician injuries. (207) 774-6251

Sax Breaks Backs.  And other parts… Saxaphone players are prone to injuries that may impair their performance, but may also disrupt their life outside of music. Finger, wrist, neck and back injuries are common. Back pain, neck pain and headaches are leading causes of missed work worldwide. Your concerns are legitimate and demand proper attention in order to reduce your risk of future disability or inability to play. An 2019 article published The journal “Medical Problems of Performing Artists” discussed the most common injuries among saxophone players.  PRMD’s (playing related musculoskeletal disorders) are remarkably common in saxaphone players. Small injuries may lead to bigger injuries, even disabling pain that derails careers. Professional and college level saxophonists were polled and 76.15% had had some form of PRMD in the past. 50% had a PRMD in the past year. 21.1% had a PRMD in the past week! The most common areas of pain and injury were the wrists, neck, mouth and jaw. “The most common self-reported postural habits were forward head position and rounded upper back. Postures that correlated with higher pain ratings were rounded upper back and backward pelvic tilt. The rounded upper back, backward pelvic tilt, and excessive curve...

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Slow fingers? Poor Muscle Memory? Musician Finger Speed Solved.

February 1, 2021

Mounting evidence shows that chiropractic care may speed up your playing and precision. Call Dr. Lou! Telemedicine available. (207) 774-6251

Musician finger speed and reaction times. How quickly do your fingers respond when your brain says go? How precisely are your fingers picking? Reaction times and precision are often chalked up to “muscle memory,” but in fact the muscles have no memory without your brain and it’s control. Your reaction time depends on how efficiently your brain and nervous system are working. Researchers have now published a number of studies that have shown that chiropractic care can actually make a difference to your reaction time. Research has been conducted on the reaction times of the elderly and stepping to gain balance as well as on students and keyboard reaction times. Both studies showed significant improvements in reaction times among participants, and the faster times could mean greater productivity as well as less chance of falling when caught off balance. Another study documented an improvement in elite soldiers and their ability to tap control screens with faster reaction times after chiropractic care. So what does this mean for musicians? Whether you are a pianist, guitarist, drummer, or bass player, your reaction times, speed, and precision may improve with chiropractic care. You need not have pain to receive the benefits of...

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Bass Guitar Injuries. Prevention and Healing.

December 22, 2020

Bass player injuries can be prevented. They can also be healed without drugs and surgery, at home, without frequent visits to providers. Call Dr. Lou, Maine's "Rock Doc." (207) 774-6251. Telemedicine available.

The Bass Guitar & Injuries Tools to fight arm and hand injuries. You are today, the sum of all your experiences, practices, gigs, accidents, stressors, and jobs. One of the biggest mistakes when working to prevent or resolve playing injuries is sometimes focusing too much on the instrument, it’s balance and position, and not enough on your day to day activities. “Good practices” are not as simple as warming up, taking breaks, and cooling down after play!!!” PRMD’s or “playing-related musculoskeletal disorders” are common among guitarists of all types. In bass players, repetitive stress injuries of the forearm, shoulder, neck, elbow, wrist, and hand are especially common. The length of the neck, string tension, and action, the weight of the guitar, arm and hand position, fingering techniques all make the bass guitar a moderate to high-risk instrument. From Carpal tunnel syndrome, and trigger fingers, to tennis elbow, there are many controllable factors and methods for reducing your risk of injury that you may not be aware of. Thinking beyond warming up, taking breaks, and cooling down after play. Warming up, taking regular and restful breaks, as well as cooling down after playing, much like in an athlete, have great...

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Elbow Pain in Guitar Players – Lateral Epicondylitis.

November 17, 2020

Lateral epicondylitis is common in strummers of string instruments! Dr. Lou is an expert in musician injuries and healing from a non invasive chiropractic perspective. "Telechiro" with Dr. Lou available anywhere in the world.

Lateral Epicondylitis – Guitar Elbow – Tennis Elbow Cause. Solution. Healing Plan Execution. Much like tennis players who put tremendous repetitive strain on their elbows, musicians often suffer from “tennis elbow.” Musicians who play guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele, merlin, lute, or other stringed instruments, push their strumming elbow and connecting ligaments, tendons, and muscles to the limit, often leading to painful inflammation, restriction, and inability to play. If caught early, understood, and strategically addressed, the dysfunction that causes the inflammation and pain can be addressed, getting you back to playing while getting stronger and more resilient. PRMD’s or playing-related musculoskeletal disorders are common in string players of all kinds. They tend to build over a long period of time with repetitive stress, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, a “straw” breaks the camel’s back and you are unable to play comfortably, or at all. If this type of injury gets out of control, injections, medications, and even surgery may be recommended. Most musicians I work with can neither spare the recovery time nor risk their futures as musicians if something goes wrong or gets worse. It’s often a life or death of the music situation. The first thing to...

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