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  • Essential tremors in hands/fingers

    Posted by Loraine on August 30, 2022 at 12:22 pm

    I’ve been diagnosed with essential tremors in my hands, and it is playing havoc with my fretting and picking. My fingers jump around and twitch and go anywhere but where they’re supposed to go. It is very frustrating. The neurologist told me to keep playing the guitar – it would be good for the tremors and keeping them busy. So, has anyone else gone through this, and how did you overcome the disability associated with the condition? I know there’s medication that may help, but I’d prefer not to go that route just yet.

    Loraine replied 1 year, 6 months ago 12 Members · 27 Replies
  • 27 Replies
  • stevieblues

    Member
    August 30, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    Sorry to hear that you have essential tremors. I don’t have any experience with that condition. I hope your playing the guitar will help with the tremors. My arthritis kicked in today during the lesson. That hurts. Well I hope you can overcome this problem.

    • Loraine

      Member
      August 30, 2022 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you @stevieblues . I’ll have to take it a day at a time.

  • Kitman

    Member
    August 30, 2022 at 9:06 pm

    Hi @Loraine . This is the first I had heard of essential tremors so I looked it up and read about it. I am so sorry to hear about your hands having this condition. Like @stevieblues I don’t have any experience here – that said I would offer ideas for your consideration and discussion it others with more experience. One, I am wondering if having a guitar set up that provides very low action would be helpful (less fretting pressure require). Second, perhaps exploring an alternative guitar tuning (like an open chord) might allow you play and reduce the amount of fretting that is required. Third, would a classical guitar with nylon strings help – ie. Are they easier to fret (again, I do not have experience here). Finally I am wondering if some light hand stretching and strengthening would help – an orthopedic doctor and/or therapist may I hope others here at TAC have some ideas and ideas @Loraine .

  • Loraine

    Member
    August 30, 2022 at 10:07 pm

    @Kitman I really appreciate you educating yourself on essential tremors. There are times where the tremors are minimal and I can play. You offer up some great solutions, and I think you’re spot on with all of them. I hadn’t thought about physical therapy, but it makes sense to me. I think I’m still in the early stages of it, but I’ve been paying attention to the progression of it. Alternative tuning is a definite. I also have a classical I can work with, but that’s mostly fingerpicking, and sometimes my picking hand doesn’t cooperate because of the tremors. I refuse to give up my dream of playing guitar.

  • Philb

    Member
    August 30, 2022 at 11:56 pm

    So sorry to hear this Loraine. I hope you do keep playing; you are such an important part of this community. I hope you can find a way to treat this in a way that is positive for you. Keep well!

    • Loraine

      Member
      August 31, 2022 at 3:44 am

      Thanks so much for your support @Philb

  • Mrfredsporty

    Member
    August 31, 2022 at 4:06 am

    I could not agree with you and your doctor more in that you need to keep playing! Im wondering if you might also begin to seriously explore the wide world of open tunings. Maybe more blues etc.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  Mrfredsporty.
    • Loraine

      Member
      August 31, 2022 at 6:34 am

      Thanks @Mrfredsporty , I’m looking into the open tunings a little more. I know power chords are easier than full chords too.

  • Cadgirl

    Member
    August 31, 2022 at 4:55 am

    @Loraine , I am so sorry you are going through this. I’m with you, medication is my last resort. I was glad to hear playing your guitar might just help you. I was just watching a video on Shaky hands and playing the guitar. The statement was something on the order of get into a guitar routine where you are doing small segments of playing notes. You know….. something like our challenges. I’m sure you know we are all behind you.

    • Loraine

      Member
      August 31, 2022 at 6:38 am

      @Cadgirl thanks for the tidbit. Im pretty good at routine and breaking it into smaller sessions, so I’ve been doing something right. If the shaking is too extreme, I just hang my hat for a short period and then try again. It really just depends on the moment in time how they’ll be. Sometimes there is barely any shaking, and other times I can’t make a chord or fingerpick for the life of me.

  • ChuckS

    Member
    August 31, 2022 at 6:19 am

    @Lorraine, sorry to hear you are dealing with that. Might be worth asking your Doc if Physical Therapy (beyond just guitar) would help.

    • Loraine

      Member
      August 31, 2022 at 6:40 am

      Thanks @ChuckS , yes I think I’ll look into physical therapy. It can’t hurt that’s for sure.

  • Bill_Brown

    Member
    August 31, 2022 at 11:09 am

    Hello @Loraine , I’m really sorry to hear about your condition. I’d never heard of it till reading your post. I did some research and found out some things about therapeutic treatment. I read about a nerve stimulation device called Cala Trio. According to the Mayo Clinic website, this device could be beneficial. I’ll let you read it for your self, it’s mentioned in the Diagnosis & Treatment section.

    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/essential-tremor/symptoms-causes/syc-20350534

    Hope this can give you some answers, because this Community really does need you in it.

    • Loraine

      Member
      August 31, 2022 at 12:52 pm

      @Bill_Brown Thank you so much for looking at this and educating yourself, and for the possible nerve treatment (it is a nerve disorder). I’ll take a look at the info later tonight.

  • KayMesser

    Member
    August 31, 2022 at 2:02 pm

    Hi Loraine,

    I’m new to TAC but recently watched a Quarterly Guitar Progress Party replay from earlier this year. In the video, a TAC member named SAM shared his experience with his essential tremors. He offered to share information and his story to anyone who is interested if they reach out to him directly (although I didn’t see his last name mentioned). He had a surgery that was really successful.

    His story starts at 1:31:53 via the link below.

    https://tonypolecastro.com/progress-party-q3-2022/
    Sam from Alabama

    My Dad has essential tremors and I know that increases the likelihood that I will develop them as well later in life. I know he finds relief with rest and stress reduction – his shakiness increases when he is exhausted or has been doing a lot of labor on the farm.

    I hope you are able to get some relief and find a solution that keeps you playing!

    July Progress Party (Replay)

    • Loraine

      Member
      August 31, 2022 at 4:14 pm

      Welcome to the TAC community @KayMesser ! Thank you so much for responding. I’ll definitely check out the podcast, and maybe track the elusive Sam down. I’m not a big fan of surgery (am an old pro to surgical procedures on practically every inch of body). I have noticed that some days are much better than others, and yes I think rest and less stress (physical and emotional) play a big role in if it’s a fairly good day or bad day. My hands have had tremors for over a year now, but it’s gotten progressively worse to where I am having difficulty with certain things and much more noticeable to others. Thanks again, and I hope you remain active in the forums. Keep on plunking!

    • Cadgirl

      Member
      September 2, 2022 at 3:30 am

      @KayMesser You are awesome to include the link to this TAC session. A lot of good info from Sam. Just shows you how great the forum is. Hope this helps you out @Loraine and anyone else in the community with this issue.

      • KayMesser

        Member
        September 2, 2022 at 7:04 pm

        I’m so glad I remembered the session. His story was one that really inspired me.

    • Loraine

      Member
      September 2, 2022 at 5:40 am

      Thanks again @KayMesser ! I’ve reached out to Sam Forbes for a little more information and insight.

      • KayMesser

        Member
        September 2, 2022 at 7:03 pm

        I’m so glad you found Sam!

  • Marty73

    Member
    September 2, 2022 at 11:28 am

    All I can say @Loraine is Keep Playing! It’s the next great thing to therapy! 😊😎

    • Loraine

      Member
      September 2, 2022 at 11:56 am

      I totally agree @Marty69 ! I’ll have my own picking style based on wherever fingers land.

      • Marty73

        Member
        September 3, 2022 at 6:03 am

        👍

  • mpmoran0315

    Member
    September 15, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    Hi Lorraine,

    Sorry you are having to deal with this, I also have peripheral neuropathy but it impacts my feet more than my hands. However, as a post op program of physical therapy for a serious spinal condition, I also worked with an occupational therapist that provided a series of exercises designed to re-sensitize my hands and fingers, and it helped. My hands/fingers are not my main issue, but I also looked at my guitar playing as also helping along with the exercises. I think if you at least follow Tony’s 10 mins a day approach, even on the bad days, you will find some improvement over time. Then if you are feeling ok, you can go beyond the ten minutes.

    • Loraine

      Member
      September 16, 2022 at 3:16 am

      Thanks so much for your reply @mpmoran0315 ! So there’s a glimmer of hope. I do my best, and most days I can get through playing without major problems, and the BAM, and my hands And fingers go off on a tangent of their own. I know there will always be periods of respite. For now it’s more an inconvenience than anything. But I know it’s progressive, so I’m taking advantage of what I can right now.

  • DrB

    Member
    September 17, 2022 at 11:15 am

    I am new to TAC as well. I also have essential tremors and am on medication for them. That in no way says that you should go that route. The tremors have not yet impacted my guitar play but when I am shaky I usually don’t feel much like playing. I guess I have not attempted to play when I am having symptoms. I wish I could be more help.

    • Loraine

      Member
      September 17, 2022 at 3:52 pm

      Thank you so much for jumping on this bandwagagon. Welcome to TAC. I hope you have fun! My tremors come and go, and sometimes I can play and other times I can’t. I tend to strum more than fingeror flatpicking, because the tremor aren’t as noticeable and intrusive. It’s good to keep the hands busy though. I think it slows the progression. My tremors aren’t to the. Point I would need medication. I’m on enough meds for other health matters, and I wonder if the tremors aren’t a result of medication I’m on.

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