The dreaded tennis (drummer's) elbow

Jonathan Curtis

Silver Member
Yes, forum friends, I've contracted the pox. I've pulled up short at my previous two band rehearsals with a throbbing pain deep in my elbow, and a pain when straightening my arm. These are the classic signs of tennis elbow, probably caused by playing fast music on the unfamiliar and set-up at the rehearsal space for three hours at a time.

My question is, what is the best way to:

a) cure this instance
b) stop it reoccurring?

Is rest simply the best medicine? I've not drummed for a week, and if I feel the slightest pain at the weekend, will extend that abstinence for another week, as annoying as that may be. I'm also on glucosamine and ibuprofen, but there's really little else I can do.

As for (b), I'm at a bit of a loss. I know I have generally good and consistent technique, and I've worked hard at reducing bad habits over the past few years; I wonder if it's to do with the set-up at the rehearsal space. It's a standard 5 piece, but I only use one crash to minimise on haulage. I place the crash to my left over the hi-hat, which means crash hits from the ride are quite a jolt. Perhaps this is a cause? Might it help to have the crash over the ride to avoid long treks for my right arm?

Also, might persistent ride work cause this? With my band, I'm on the ride quite a lot at high tempos, and also practice a lot of jazz. A possible culprit?

Any advice on this frustrating injury would be greatly appreciated, I'm badly missing my 4 hours a day practice!

Thanks
 
H

Hellwyck

Guest
If there's swelling
Stick a towel on it and an ice pack on that, leave on for 20 mins and remove for 10, repeat.

If there's not swelling
Do as above but have a heat pad on for 20 mins, remove for 10, put ice on for 20, remove and repeat.
 

Bobcatt

Junior Member
Have you tried using a elbow brace for support. "Ace Bandage" makes a decent one. I am no way in the medical field but it's what I use when I'm playing. Good luck...
 

LukeSnyder

Gold Member
Its sounds like you have tendonitis, in which case you mainly need to rest. Tendonitis is inflammation caused by micro tears in your ligaments. Once it heals up, you should be fine! But if you continue to aggravate it, it can continue to get worse. I would take it easy for at least a couple weeks!
 

makinao

Silver Member
I play tennis, play drums, and have gotten tennis elbow twice. The first was not from tennis, the second was. So if what you have is indeed tennis elbow, I know what you are going through. It could have been caused by your odd rehearsal hall setup. Being different from what you were used to, you were forced to change something in your strokes, and this aggravated something in your arm because you weren't ready for it.

A couple of weeks rest should be fine. Avoid extreme extensions and twisting. When the swelling and pain is controlled, the are two things you have to watch out for. First is not to reinjure it. You might notice that it is not only elbow movement that will set off the pain, but wrist movement as well. Shock and vibration upon impact is another potential danger. Are your sticks transmitting a lot of vibration? Try to get sticks that are more comfortable to use.

Second, you need a rehabilitation strategy. I am lucky that my brother is an orthopaedic surgeon, and our university's varsity tennis coach is a good friend. So they gave me some strengthening and flexibility exercises for me to do. Have yourself checked by a doctor, and have him recommend a rehab/therapy program for you.
 

GruntersDad

Honorary Lifetime CEO
Staff member
I have found one thing that bothers my hands more than anything and that is a real tight snare head. It doesn't give much when you hit hard so all of the soft tissue in your hand,and arm will absorb the enregy. Does this practice set you are unfamiliar with have a very tight head.? I can't imagine it's the tom heads and hopefully the cymbals aren't cranked down. Unless you have a real tear, rest is about all you can do. Some Ace products if worn wrong may actually cause more pain than good. Lossen the snare head and take it easy.
 

moontheloon

Silver Member
about 5 years ago I had tendinitis in my left arm so bad that I couldnt even grip the stick......I had to leave for tour within weeks and couldnt really stop playing for very long due to rehearsals

I got treated by my chiropractor for about a month and wore an isolated pressure brace to cut off movement of the tendon for a few weeks and when the pain went away it never came back.....

I did have to cancel about a weeks worth of rehearsals but once I started playing again I took it easy for a while ....but was fine

every now and then ill feel a slight tightness and I gently stretch

you might want to check your technique if it continues
 

Jim Mattingly

Senior Member
I have had it also but my doc did not believe it was from drumming alone. I also build alot, a ton of carpentry work and using the cordless drill was part of the culprit, and I also heat with wood so the cutting and splitting of wood every season was another culprit. My pain does come and go now and a product called biofreeze seemed to help some, plus as mentioned in a previous reply, the use of the forearm brace helps to relieve some of the tension/over exertion of the tendons. When it first came on real strong and real bad I had the doc give me a cortizone shot and that really helped for a few months. Now I have just learned to play through the pain since it has been going on for many years. The only other alternatives which some have been mentioned is rest, ibuprofen will help the inflamation, the shot, the forearm brace, physical therapy was also recommended, and finally, which I have not opted for is the dreaded going under the knife/suregry which would leave you without any use at all for a couple of months...Good luck and keep us posted on what may or may not have helped..
 

moontheloon

Silver Member
I have had it also but my doc did not believe it was from drumming alone. I also build alot, a ton of carpentry work and using the cordless drill was part of the culprit, and I also heat with wood so the cutting and splitting of wood every season was another culprit. My pain does come and go now and a product called biofreeze seemed to help some, plus as mentioned in a previous reply, the use of the forearm brace helps to relieve some of the tension/over exertion of the tendons. When it first came on real strong and real bad I had the doc give me a cortizone shot and that really helped for a few months. Now I have just learned to play through the pain since it has been going on for many years. The only other alternatives which some have been mentioned is rest, ibuprofen will help the inflamation, the shot, the forearm brace, physical therapy was also recommended, and finally, which I have not opted for is the dreaded going under the knife/suregry which would leave you without any use at all for a couple of months...Good luck and keep us posted on what may or may not have helped..

bio-freeze....absolutely!!!

I used that a bunch as well when I was treating.....

I to was building when it got bad......Im sure that contributed to it.....
 

Arigatex

Junior Member
I've had a very minor pain/ discomfort and the right arm, it comes and goes and I believe it was caused by a bad technique I used to have a few months ago, since it first started I stopped playing completely for 2 weeks but when I started back it was still there.

Sometimes is on the elbow, sometimes on the wrist sometimes on the middle finger and sometimes on the little finger, it comes and goes around 3 times a day and last like 10 mins. I really don't know what else to do was 2 weeks too little time? I think I have corrected my technique but now I dont know :( is this something else? I dont see swealing btw, and there very little pain but I fear it will get worse.
 

Skulmoski

Gold Member
See a doctor.
Rest for a few weeks (no drumming).
Use ice.
Use ibuprofen for the short term to help reduce inflammation.

Don't rush your recovery; your body is speaking to you so listen.

Get well soon.

GJS
 

zarrdoss

Gold Member
I have had elbow pain for a month now and it comes and goes, I finally talked to a Physical therapist and found out thats what I have. I didn't get it from drumming though, I swing a 5 lb hammer, and other strenuous tasks all day putting together bronze statues and pretty sure thats what did it, my pain would go away over the weekend but return about Tuesday. It got really bad yesterday so I went to see a friend thats a PT and said thats what I have. Since I cant take two weeks off work he suggested use of a brace do stretching, ice use my left hand for hammering give it two weeks to heal but still take it easy for another 4 ugh! Then start some strength exercises so it does not happen again. Getting older sucks!
 

resohead

Silver Member
I had that from drumming and I never thought it would go away but I never went to a doctor either. I think it went away after about 3 years...long time. If I touched that small bone on the outside of the elbow on anything it was like a jolt of electricity.
 
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