Dan Griffith: Physical Therapy Works Wonders (INJURIES. RECOVERY. GUITAR)

Dan Griffith Injury Recovery Guitar Focal Dystonia Classical Guitar magazine

Dan Griffith is an Arizona-based singer and songwriter who plays all sorts of different stringed instruments, including guitar, ukulele, and vihuela, and written music in many different styles. He has played songs in TV shows and commercials and is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who put on the Grammy Awards.

I began playing guitar in 7th grade in 1963. I studied music and classical guitar at the University of Toledo [Ohio]. I played in various bands and duets from 1963 to 1983. At that time, I developed a pain in my right wrist. (I am left-handed but I play right-handed). It got so bad that I could not play more than 15 minutes without suffering for the next 24 hours. I could not pick up a coffee cup nor do a push up.

I went to two surgeons, and both diagnosed me with carpal tunnel syndrome. They both wanted to do surgery, but my fear of permanently damaging my hand kept me from surgery. So for the next 12 years, I played very little—not more than 30 minutes in a week! My time turned to a career at Motorola [electronics].


Then, in 1995, while working at Motorola, I got a 15-minute upper back massage at work. The therapist hit a knot in my upper back and my arm was on fire! She found more [muscle knots] in my shoulder in the front and worked on them. My arm, from fingers to shoulder, was in intense pain for the next eight hours or so, and this was the same type of pain I would get when I played guitar.

After that episode, I went to a professional therapist and had six one-hour sessions working on my upper body. I was also given stretching exercises to do. It was a miracle: After six weeks of treatment, my wrist problem was gone! Twenty-one years later, I still do the stretching and I still need to get massage work done once or twice every year or two, but today I play two to five hours a day. I was cured without surgery, just massage and exercises.