Pain in the neck when playing cornet ...

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Ffion Flugel, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. Ffion Flugel

    Ffion Flugel Member

    I wonder if anyone else has a similar problem to the one I'm experiencing. Whenever I play cornet I seem to end up with two dead fingers on my left hand, and I have trouble moving my neck - not desperately badly, but enough not to be able to reverse (in the car, that is) for a while afterwards.

    This doesn't happen when I play flugel or horn. Has anyone else had anything similar, and is there a solution (apart from avoiding the cornet)?

  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a nerve problem. The nerves from your fingers run up your arm and up through the neck area by the spinal column (I think, correct me if I'm wrong). Maybe something is swelling up somewhere in your neck when you play cornet?

    Go see your GP! I hope it's not serious...
  3. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    If memory serves me right I think Cornetgirl was experiencing something similar. I may be wrong, I can't remember the reason she gave for the pain she was getting, but you could ask her on the off chance, see if she can shed any light on your problem.
  4. Alan MacRae

    Alan MacRae Member

    Sounds similar to what I had a couple of years ago. If I was you, I'd get it sorted quickly.... I ended up having surgery on my neck (Google ACDF - Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion - if you're not squeemish!)

    Basically, the nerve to your whole arm leaves the spine between 2 of the vertebrae in your neck, and I had slipped the disc at that point, which had pinched off the nerve root to the arm, and seriously pinched the whole spinal chord. The only symptoms were "pins and needles" in my thumb, forefinger and half of the next finger.

    It's a relatively straightforward procedure, and quite common these days, but in my case absolutely vital, as not having it fixed would have meant the spinal damage getting worse, with the possibility of total loss of sensation below the neck. Fortunately it got sorted before that, and full recovery was quick - only a few weeks off work, and that was because I couldn't drive.

    Hopefully, your condition will either be less advanced, avoiding the need for surgery, or at least detected as early as mine was.

    Go and see your doc. Get referred to a specialist, and get an MRI.

    Good luck :)
  5. bigmamabadger

    bigmamabadger Active Member

    I used to get that when I played cornet, but not on horn. Now the only pain in my neck is the conductor...
    Must be nerve inflamation caused by the way you hold the instrument.
  6. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    I developed Carpel Tunnel Syndrome when playing Cornet - similar problems of numb fingers on the left had, but it has not improved now I play Baritone & E flat Bass. (using a splint at night has produced no real improvement either). Surgery seems to be the only option for me, but the success rate is not that high (20% maybe has been quoted to me), and as I am disabled, it means being housebound for MANY weeks as I would not be able to walk with a stick or Crutches as a result!

    In the US, similar symptoms are often diagnosed as "Thoracic Outlet Syndrome" and surgery on BOTH ends of the nerve (to relieve pressure on the nerve where it comes FROM the spine, as well as in the wrist) is sometimes used, with a result in far better success rates... but it is seen as complete witchcraft in the UK, as usual. There is along history of treatments in other countries being seen as unorthodox here LONG after they are standard elsewhere! eg. Stomach Ulcers were "treated" by being on a Milk diet when antibiotics were getting very high success rates in Australia for years!
  7. Glehany

    Glehany Member it mustn't. It could be a number of things, some more serious than others. However dodgy your technique you shouldn't be getting numb fingers though and you should go and see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. It's unlikely to be anything too serious, so don't start worrying, but it could be something that needs attention to avoid problems in the future. For example, if your vertebrae (the bones in your spine) are squashing the nerve to your arm, if it's left untreated the nerves to your fingers could be permanently damaged. Of course it could be something as simple as gripping the cornet too hard with your left hand and compressing the nerves actually in your hand, or too much tension in the muscles in your neck when you play cornet, again compressing nerves. Diagnosis is pretty much impossible over the internet though, and should be made by someone qualified, so......

  8. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    I also suffered from this, something to do with cartilage pressing on a nerve between my third and fourth virtibrae (although I don't think it was neccessarily related to playing the trombone). A few months ago I switched to a memoryfoam pillow. Takes a week or so to get used to, but I've not experienced any problems since.
  9. Flugelmahorn

    Flugelmahorn Member

    Excellent points Gordon ;)

    Hope you get the problem sorted Jan - must be too much RoadRunning.
  10. Ffion Flugel

    Ffion Flugel Member

    Thanks Ali - that's possible too I guess, although not whilst playing the cornet. Just have to stick to flugel:rolleyes:
  11. Ffion Flugel

    Ffion Flugel Member

    Thanks everyone - I think I'll go and get it checked out, and maybe try to avoid too much cornet playing for a while and see if it makes a difference.:redface:
  12. cornetgirl

    cornetgirl Active Member


    I had a similar problem and it turned out I had slipped a disc in my neck - not through playing the cornet but work-related. Definitely get it checked out as it will need attention.

    I find now that I'm fine on trumpet, flugel and horn but prolonged cornetting is not good - maybe I should change my username...

    Rach x
  13. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    I did experience some back trouble, or should I say rotation of left shoulder from playing. Your left hand takes all the weight (ok, it ain't heavy, but holding it for prolonged periods of time at rehearsals/gig/practicing), so this was basically a repetitive strain type injury. Poor posture when playing and when sitting at a desk at work operating a computer (a laptop at the time) contributed to this also.

    A visit to a very good physio sorted me out (He's physio for GB Ladies Tennis Team I believe!). After 45 minutes of pain, he'd loosened up the muscles in my shoulder/back, straightened my spine, pushed my left shoulder back into it's normal position. I walked out of his treatment room at least 2 inches taller too.. :)

    The thing is, I was driven to go for treatment by a pain in my lower back. What had happend (If I can explain this correctly) is that the shoulder muscles had "shut down" and I had grown so tolerant of the pain, the brain ignored it.. so the pain move around, or probably more correctly, was more severe when it occured elsewhere.. sounds bizzare but that's how it was explained to me.

    I try and do the exercises he suggested to bring some balance to the whole physical activity of playing. [I.e. light weights work, shoulder curls etc..] I also visit him once a year for an MOT! :)
    I've also spent some time with an Alex Tech practicioner (also a trumpet player) which has also helped.

    Me: It hurts when I do this..
    Alex Tech: Don't do that...

    [That's Alex Tech in a nutshell :)]

    As for being described as a "pain in the neck" for playing.. yes.. I have suffered that, not sure what the cure is!

    Hope you find a resolution to your problems.
  14. Glehany

    Glehany Member

    Thanks Ali! I think that was a bit obvious though :)
  15. I also think it was an excellent point!
  16. flugelboy

    flugelboy Member

    i sometimes get a problem where after playin a loud passage the back of my neck is like stiff n sore,i dont know if that is anything similar but my tutor at salford(russel gray) told me that hes used to suffer from that and what he did was he started holing the cornet with his left hand(obviously)with a much lighter there for releasing the tension around that area!!Dontno if thats any help??????
  17. jackocorn

    jackocorn Member

    Me too!

    Oops - sorry. Maybe it's because I have Sop player directly behind me?
  18. Ffion Flugel

    Ffion Flugel Member

    Thanks Rach, I did wonder whether to bother, but you've convinced me. I haven't managed to find my trumpet since we moved house, but otherwise my situation is similar!

  19. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Well, if not, im sure it can be arraged :p

    Back to topic....
    Hope everything works out ok, good luck :).


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