Problems with a shoulder


Hi everybody,
a few weeks ago I had to interrupt my practice with the bass due to a shoulder bursitis - inflammation of the joint between the arm and the shoulder.
Is it something that has already happened to any of you? Is it possible that it has a relationship with the practice of the bass?
Thank you for your answers


It might be possible. We can do a lot of injuries to ourselves through our posture and technique. There is a bassist who is a chiropractor and he writes a column fairly regularly. You may be able to browse through his writings and find more information. Disclaimer: I have not purchased his book, nor have I followed any of his recommendations, as I’ve never had the need. I have read some of his stuff, and it seems pretty common-sense to me. Here’s a link to a column: . I hope you get some good info and relief from your injury.


Had it happen to me. Seemed to me I had the touch of the flu or cold, what I did was before practice I took about a table spoon of day quil and it worked.


Thanks Kingchiefthomas,
I will try this recipe. First I’ll have to turn out the inflammation of my shoulder.


Thank you ctthayer, I’ll go straight to see if dr Randy can explain me something about this problem!


Which shoulder? Plucking of Fretting arm?

Have you had a previous injury in that arm/torso side?

@ctthayer thanks for the link! (have hyperextended thumb on fretting hand from basketball injury in the youth)


I’ve had all kinds of injuries and discomfort from playing - there’s a thread here where people offer some great advice (much of it focused on hands):

Best of luck!
The neck-shoulder-elbow-wrist-finger chain of command can be very very delicate. Any spot along it can mess up other spots.
A nice massage always helps me, as does acupuncture as does core strength training.
Good luck!


Hi pukkita, it’s the fretting arm.
Decades ago I broke my left wrist, and later the elbow of this same arm.
And I’m also left-handed…


Hi Gio, thanks!
At this point I’m having physiotherapy sessions. Someone advised me to acupuncture (you too, I see). My brother suggests cbd. Someone else, to eliminate the inflammation, advised me to do night compresses with cabbage leaves. It is a natural remedy, used for centuries. I tried it last night, this morning I seemed to be a bit 'better, but you have to repeat it several times, depending on the degree of inflammation.
Let’s see what will come out…


There are so many treatments! I’m seeing someone now who uses sound-waves to blast apart scar tissue… another fellow who has a fringe massage technique that goes across the muscle rather than with… I say try everything, and stick with what seems to work.
I’ve had good luck with CBD ointments - and varying success with acupuncture depending on the acupuncturist!
Good luck.


This Dr. Kertz is giving good tricks. Worthy to see some of his videos.
Thanks ctthayer


Thanks Gio, if it won’t recover soon I’ll try with CBD.
Sounds good!


I injured my left shoulder/blade on a bike crash in the youth, and definitely can “feel it” after playing, in fact I’m going slower than I would due to soreness, otherwise I’d practice more hours daily.

Due to the injury your natural tendency is to limit joint range of motion. I found to adopt a good left hand posture on the fretboard I need to bring my elbow near the ribs, and move the shoulder forward, something you rarely do “naturally” if injured… as a result I get soreness quick… practice (and listening to the “pain”, stop if needed!) will fix it.

Guess you’re in the same (worse) situation. I’d try visiting a sports specialized physician…

CBD will help from the beggining, you need to reduce inflammation to help with the pain. Dunno if you’re in a legal state, but the interaction between THC and terpenes has also to do with anti inflammatory properties, not just CBD.

I lived for 15+ some years with left shoulder becoming worse and worse, doctors saying surgery was the only option, I reached the point where just trying to put on a jacket or safety belt was a torture, not to mention riding a bike.

In the end, and as the “only solution” was surgery I took the plunge and recovered 99% by confronting pain (breaking up scar tissue on tendons, etc, hurts!), by training in the gym, exercises and technique from a great article by a Sports physician I found (looking for it).

Shoulder is a very complex joint with lots of muscle groups (deltoids). Get those deltoids strong, (trapezious too!) and they’ll support the joint, relieving the more delicate tendon/rotator cuff/bursa of tension.

To recap, what I learnt, is “leaving the matter as is” will only let things become worse.


Thanks pukkita for all your interesting testimonies and advices.
Right now, as you say, the main thing is to get rid of the inflammation. After taking some anti-inflammatory pill, according to the prescription, I started some sessions of physiotherapy: the first times I received massages, the last time they applied ultrasound. In addition to this I put an arnica ointment every day, but as soon as possible I look for one with CBD. The last two nights I also applied a compress made with a cabbage leaf: it seems to be a powerful remedy for joint problems. I will go ahead with this approach for a few days, then I will evaluate if it is worth it.
About THC, it is not legal here except in the light version (they sell it in kiosks …). For years, however, I have not used it anymore.
Until now I had no problems with my shoulder, only occasionally with my elbow, but nothing really serious. I do not play sports but I think that, as you suggest, strengthening the muscles of the back / shoulder area is an excellent idea, to be taken seriously into consideration. It was in this way that a long time ago I managed to solve a cervical problem that has gripped me for years.
I will be careful not to let the problem rot. Thank you!


I switched the guitar strap on my Fender jazz bass to one that is 4" wide and padded due the weight of the Fender. We will see if that helps.


I had a cool leather strap that apart from looks was useless, won’t grip on the shoulder, non-constant adjustment (holes each 2 inches) as a result, I couldn’t adjust the strap for tha bass to fall right into the height I wanted, and worse, strap/bass will slip constantly.

After replacing it with a nylon one (looks like a knock-off of Josh one, also got the dunlop locks) that stays in place like a champ, and can be adjusted to the millimeter, I’ve noticed I get less soreness, I’m much more relaxed while playing.

So an important thing to avoid injuries or pains: take your time so that you’re very comfortable with the bass/strap, you’ll be more relaxed, avoiding contractures.

Got also a height-adjustable stool with back support… now I stop practicing when I noticed I’m getting worse, not due physical discomfort or from being tired.

So, investing in ergonomics will be great for your playing and health too :smile:


Thanks Pukkita for the kind thougts,
your suggestions sound very reasonable.
At this moment I’m travelling and it’s seems to me that the problem is getting even worst… luggages and humidity are not helping at all!
Hope that getting back will be better. Anyway, I cannot play untill my arm is hurting so badly - like it is tonight… Feeling a bit depressed about.
Thanks for all


I feel you! lugging stuff around doesn’t help… :hugs: but don’t get sad :smile: watch some videos / theory in the meantime, you will be better when you get back to it!

Did physicians advise any rehab exercises? Watch out also your sleeping position… I remember I found out it had some of the culprit back in the day.


I’m doing some rehab, twice a week. About sleeping, I don’t feel pain lying on the bed. But, who knows if I keep a"good" position…
And as you say, that’s thé good time to get more skilled w/ theory’s stuff, reading notes etc…
thanks pukkita, I’ll try to keep in mind your suggestions!


I definitely have found playing the bass can aggrevate my left shoulder, which i injured in a ski accident years ago. Once bursitis sets in, you gotta rest until the inflammation goes down–though not easy to do–and then focusing on posture to keep it from coming back. Check out this blog post about guitar playing–pretty relevant, though is mostly about seated posture. But the relationship between the hips and the shoulders cannot be understated–if you thrust your pelvis forward in standing or sitting, it will force your shoulders into a forward position.