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Wrist Cracking after Shoulder Surgery


I'm a retired USAF musician, and years (35+) ago in college, I suffered a repetitive-stress injury to my right wrist, due to playing bassoon with a bent (flexioned) right wrist.  It was capsulitis and senovitis of the lunate and pisiform bones. I couldn't play bassoon for four months, had to do hot-wax or whirlpool treatments twice a day for two years, was on 75mg indomethacin, and 3200mg motrin, slept with splints for 5 years. I can't do a full wrist extension (only about 30 degrees), and had to do finger pushups(!) in basic training.

My wrist would always get tight every once (1-3 week) in a while, so I would crack it with a forced radial deviation.  When I'd work up for an audition, or solo recital, it would need cracking a little more often. Years ago, I adjusted my posture by abducting my right arm, sticking my elbow out (looking like my hand is on my hip) so my right wrist does only a 10 degree flexion and 20 degree pronation when I play, taking the strain off my wrist.

I developed ulcerative colitis, and 12 years ago got a J-pouch (BIG difference!).  Needless to say, I can't take NSAIDs anymore, so I have to really baby my wrist when I ramp-up the practicing.

I recently had right shoulder surgery (frayed supraspinatus, shaved off acromion process, and long-head biceps tenodesis), and had my right arm in a sling for six weeks. My wrist started to stiffen up tremendously, either from the sling or from lack of use.  It's been about 11 weeks, had six weeks of (stretching) therapy, and have been doing weight-bearing exercises in my therapy.  My shoulder's coming along okay, if a little behind schedule, but I'm having to crack my right wrist about every 5 minutes or it gets painfully stiff.

I still play bassoon, but my right wrist just seems to be getting less dexterous; I really don't want to hang it up!

Could it be a carpal tunnel problem?  The physical therapy on base isn't the greatest, and having surgery on my wrist scares me, even though the ortho surgeons are the best around.  I've started sleeping with my right wrist splint again, even though it bothers the hell out of me!

Any advise would be most appreciated.
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