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I hurt my shoulder, and I'm looking at ways on how to prevent this in the future

2300 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  jthole
Last week I developed a slight swelling in the neck and my right shoulder, which was followed by a stinging pain in my shoulder (so bad that I couldn't even sleep). It turns out that I developed tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon in the shoulder), according to the doctor.

I am on pain killers and an anti-inflammatory drug, and have to see the doctor again next Tuesday. Earlier this week everything was so sore that he could only do a crude diagnosis. He is probably going to suggest another round of Diclofenac and Paracetamol and/or physical therapy.

So far, so good, but I suspect that it was partly caused by my sax playing. I have been playing baritone sax with a sling for years, but I recently got a new one (to low A). With this sax, and the sling, I guess that I have to rotate my right shoulder slightly more backwards to reach the keys. That's probably not the only cause (dressing too cold while riding my motorbike to work might be a culprit too), but I want to prevent this from happening again.

How are your experiences with using a harness for baritone sax, instead of a sling? Is this putting more stress on the shoulders, or does it distribute the weight better? I already found out that a harness makes my sax hang more in front of me than to the side, which probably is better for the position of my shoulder. However, with the sling, all of the weight is on my left shoulder, while a harness will put stress on the right shoulder as well.

Any advice, apart from taking enough rest?

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Well I would start to play the baritone sitting down with a stand for a while to rest the weight on your neck and shoulder. Its not macho but thats what i would do lol

Yes, I tried that (I have a K&M playing stand), but:

- it's very hard to find a comfortable position for my neck and spine
- it doesn't really solve the problem that my right shoulder is pushed backwards; in fact, it seems to be worse with a playing stand

(actually I shouldn't have tried that yet, since today my shoulder hurts like !"#$% again)
Tendonitis is a repetitive stress injury...Emphasis on repetitive. Unless you are moving in and out of the uncomfortable position over and over again (though shoulders rolled back IS the anatomically correct position...we are all just slouches), it is not likely that you have developed tendonitis from this change in horns/ shoulder position.
Probably true. I am left-handed though, so I would need to find out what the repetitive movement is that's the main cause; I still suspect the sax playing has contributed as well. Not necessarily the new bari ... that could be the "last straw" indeed (I only had it for three weeks now).

Three things that could be caused solely by a new position, and would present with the same type of pain and inflammatory response:

Bursitis: Our bodies are filled with fluid-filled sacs that cushion where tendons and other soft structures glide. These can become inflamed with unusual pressures.

Rotator cuff impingement syndrome: A pinching of sorts involving structures in the shoulder joint.

Brachial plexus injury: A stretch or impingement of any one of the large cluster of nerves coming through the area of your shoulder (think odd shoulder position plus the weight of a bari on a shoulder harness).
My doctor told me that he wanted to establish a better diagnosis early next week, and I did some internet research as well. It might be related to the rotator cuff impingement syndrome, probably more than the bursitis or brachial plexus injury (which is all abacradabra for me, btw).
Dogster's advice of sitting is a good one.
Yes, but I probably shouldn't try it yet. It's too painful (and possibly damaging) to find a comfortable positions right now. I tried it this morning, and still feel the effect in my shoulder.
About sax stands, anyone experience with this one?

It looks like it gives more freedom than a regular playing stand.
Hello Johan, sorry to hear about your problems.
I suffer of impingement myself and it is very painful. I have lived with this for several years now and it is not at all clear how I got it and a lot less how to get rid of it. Both my GP and my physiotherapist have been recommending exercises but I must say they don't do much to relieve the pain.
Hi milandro :)

It's totally unclear to me how I got it as well. Maybe the heavier Grassi baritone was the last straw, but the root cause might very well be in my general posture. It probably has been building for quite some time. Or maybe it is completely unrelated to sax playing, because I never felt pain with playing, not even with the low A baritone.

My sax teacher recommended a Mensendieck therapist in Utrecht. I'll probably make an appointment with her in a couple of weeks. But I am seeing the doctor again tomorrow, and he is probably going to recommend physical therapy first.
Update: I have been to the doctor again today. Since the (im)mobility is the same, but the pain definitely decreased, he subscribed another round of anti-inflammatory drugs. Once the inflammation is (nearly) gone, I should seek physical therapy, and in the meantime I can do excercises to carefully increase the mobility of my shoulder.
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