Major arm pain from using camera

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Carl
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#1
Hi,

Since I switched from normal shutter button with AF, to back button AF a few months ago, I have noticed a growing ache/pain in my right arm (Im left handed) - its got to the point now, where I can't straighten my right arm without shooting pains , especially around the elbow and - this is hard to explain "inside the arm" - I dont get pain from it being touched, its not swollen - but christ, it doesn't half hurt. It tends to get better a few days after a shoot but then when I do a shoot, its right back there, worse then previous - its got that bad that Im whinging to you lot! lol

Seriously, its really annoying and I dont want to go to the docs if I can help it (getting an appointment is a job on its own) - I'd rather not switch back to shutter button for AF as the back button AF is super-useful. At an event (commercial or public) Im taking between 1,000 and 3,000 shots in a day so I know the answer would be - stop using the back button focus - BUT, someone may have a tip to relieve it or prevent it another way.

Yours sincerely, Mr.Ouchy lol
 
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Phil
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#2
It's a mix of age/ RSI type injury.

Tennis elbow / frozen shoulder etc are all joint problems related to similar.

I don't have a solution or any medical training, but I'm suffering arthritis in hands now and struggling to control. I know it'll mean drugs at some point but I hate the idea of that
 

Nod

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#3
Try using shutter button focus to see if it's BBF that's causing the pain. If it IS a BBF problem, either live with the pain or switch back to shutter button.
 
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Carlh
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#4
It's a mix of age/ RSI type injury.

Tennis elbow / frozen shoulder etc are all joint problems related to similar.

I don't have a solution or any medical training, but I'm suffering arthritis in hands now and struggling to control. I know it'll mean drugs at some point but I hate the idea of that
Thanks for the age comment lmao. You're such an honest bloke. lol. You're probably right though, time to crack open that zimmer frame the wife bought me for christmas I reckon ;)

Try using shutter button focus to see if it's BBF that's causing the pain. If it IS a BBF problem, either live with the pain or switch back to shutter button.
I have and although it still hurts (because its already hurting) doesn't hurt as bad - must be the way my thumb is positioned clicking on it.

Claim for Canon perhaps? Accidenthelpline ? lol
 
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#5
What I have noted from the old day job in IT is that Sri type damage is more common where there's stress involved. Completely unscientific, but the only time I get aches and pains round the mouse & keyboard is when 'other pressure' is applied, which tightens muscles etc.

So my only advice is to relax and break off for other hand exercises that use different muscles.
Maybe try a physio for guidance?
 

Nod

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#6
Can BBF be reallocated to a different button? Do any of the Ibuprofen/Diclofenac gels/creams relieve the pain?
 
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Rich
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#7
Bursitis is a possible cause of your discomfort, got it myself along with many other niggly aches and pains

Yep, that would be getting older then and neglect from younger days coming back to haunt you
 
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#8
Obviously its the position of the buttons in relation to the size of your hands. However its not sense to pursue something which is causing injury. Blaming an action that you can stop immediately, doesn't warranty wasting the doctors time and money or thinking you have grounds for a claim. (I take you meant the latter tongue in cheek?)
 
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#10
Blaming an action that you can stop immediately, doesn't warranty wasting the doctors time and money
Utter codswallop. Should sportsfolk who get injured stop playing their sport rather than get treatment so they can carry on playing?

I've had my fair share of wrist & shoulder injuries. If you can afford it then find a good osteopath. The better ones tend to be exceedingly good at diagnosis of injuries like this as well treating them and making suggestions for how to mitigate the problem. Or recommend appropriate exercises, physiotherapy, injections or surgery, as well as sending you back to a GP if required.

A GP is more likely to suggest rest & anti-inflammatories but that's only any use in the short term.

IME Chiropracters have been less useful than osteopaths.
I've also used sports massage folk and physiotherapists, some of whom have been excellent - but again you need someone who goes beyond the basics.

Do see someone though. If it's carpal tunnel then carrying on using it in this way may will cause permanent damage. You'll need them to work out whether the pain stems from a single event which has become exacerbated and can be treated, or whether it is the BBF itself causing the issue.

If the latter then you're going to have to change something. It's possible that stretching and strengthening the appropriate soft tissue is all that's required, but you'll need some kind of physio to teach you the correct exercises. You may need to change your grip, or the problem may stem from your stance. Yoga or Alexander Technique can both be very useful but they're long term investments.
 
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#11
Utter codswallop. Should sportsfolk who get injured stop playing their sport rather than get treatment so they can carry on playing?

I've had my fair share of wrist & shoulder injuries. If you can afford it then find a good osteopath. The better ones tend to be exceedingly good at diagnosis of injuries like this as well treating them and making suggestions for how to mitigate the problem. Or recommend appropriate exercises, physiotherapy, injections or surgery, as well as sending you back to a GP if required.

A GP is more likely to suggest rest & anti-inflammatories but that's only any use in the short term.

IME Chiropracters have been less useful than osteopaths.
I've also used sports massage folk and physiotherapists, some of whom have been excellent - but again you need someone who goes beyond the basics.

Do see someone though. If it's carpal tunnel then carrying on using it in this way may will cause permanent damage. You'll need them to work out whether the pain stems from a single event which has become exacerbated and can be treated, or whether it is the BBF itself causing the issue.

If the latter then you're going to have to change something. It's possible that stretching and strengthening the appropriate soft tissue is all that's required, but you'll need some kind of physio to teach you the correct exercises. You may need to change your grip, or the problem may stem from your stance. Yoga or Alexander Technique can both be very useful but they're long term investments.
Will you read the OP's and my posting again.

Basically the OP has changed his technique which is now causing damage. As a sportsman you wouldn't continue with a technique if it was causing damage, common sense tells you that you fix the issue.
I'm perfectly aware of the majority of treatments available.
 
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Mark
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#12
Quote" At an event (commercial or public) Im taking between 1,000 and 3,000 shots in a day"

Sorry to hear about the pains etc, but on the technical side, how long to cameras last at this usage rate??

How long does the camera keep its shutter speed accuracy etc?

Assume people avoid buying 2nd hand cameras off you...:):):)

Can't offer a solution, but assume if you continue using a painful technique, the problem will get worse. Pain is telling you there is a problem, but good luck ;);)

Mj
 
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#13
Will you read the OP's and my posting again.

Basically the OP has changed his technique which is now causing damage. As a sportsman you wouldn't continue with a technique if it was causing damage, common sense tells you that you fix the issue.
In addition, I'm perfectly aware of the majority of treatments available. However if the pain is situated just below the elbow on the outside of the forearm and you suffer the same pain when using a screwdriver, you need to purchase one of these.http://www.bauerfeind.ca/en/products/supports-orthoses/elbow/epipoint.html

Trust me it will work
If he'd described the pain as minor I'd agree that a support may be a good idea but he didn't. Common sense would tell me that I need to see a medical professional, not take diagnostic & treatment advice from a photography forum.

With the right treatment the OP should be able to carry on using BBF.
 
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Craig
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#14
I've had problems with RSI and tendonitis in past best advice would be see your gp if it's getting really bad. A lot of mine came from bad posture and technique playing guitar.

It's likely being caused by gripping too tightly while holding back button. Long term you need to adjust how your holding the camera / how tight your squeezing to reduce the tension when your using back button focusing. Look at trying to turn your wrist in slightly rather than out when gripping the camera which will shorten the tendons and reduce tension on them when holding the camera. Get a good strap, I love my black rapid, so you are comfortable letting the camera hang when you're not using it so you can take breaks from gripping it regularly.

Short term if you can take a break, the best way to sort is to rest your arm for at least a few week do as little as possible with it, especially with the camera and take ibuprofen regularly for a few days unless your gp gives you a better ani inflamitory, to help it along.
 
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#15
If you know the problem that has caused the injury you stop doing it, especially when you have a choice. If not get on with it.
 
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#16
Hi Carl that sounds like a nightmare :(
Definitely see your doctor and also try to change the way you operate the camera
I can't remember if it's the 7 d mk 1 or 2 that you have but could you try going back to shutter button focus and focus and recompose
You can quickly move the focus point around to help with this on the 7d :)
 
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#17
When I injured my right hand so that holding my camera and operating the shutter button was painful I managed to devise a completely different method of use. I held the camera with the other hand and operated the shutter by pushing it with my middle finger or using a remote trigger. It took about a year to lose the pain and recover strength with exercises. I can now use the camera normally again, but must remember to switch mode of operation when my hand starts feeling tired.
 
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Carlh
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#18
Can BBF be reallocated to a different button? Do any of the Ibuprofen/Diclofenac gels/creams relieve the pain?
am going to see what buttons i can assign it to, something for my left hand would be good though Im think all the buttons on the camera may be all on the right hand side. Will check - thanks for the idea.

Obviously its the position of the buttons in relation to the size of your hands. However its not sense to pursue something which is causing injury. Blaming an action that you can stop immediately, doesn't warranty wasting the doctors time and money or thinking you have grounds for a claim. (I take you meant the latter tongue in cheek?)
;) yep, just a reflection on how sad todays society has become in claiming for "anything". Its self inflicted, so my fault. I'll live with it :)

Quote" At an event (commercial or public) Im taking between 1,000 and 3,000 shots in a day"

Sorry to hear about the pains etc, but on the technical side, how long to cameras last at this usage rate??

How long does the camera keep its shutter speed accuracy etc?

Assume people avoid buying 2nd hand cameras off you...:):):)

Can't offer a solution, but assume if you continue using a painful technique, the problem will get worse. Pain is telling you there is a problem, but good luck ;);)

Mj
lol, yes, i wouldnt buy a camera from me :) My kids will be having them when I can upgrade.

I've had problems with RSI and tendonitis in past best advice would be see your gp if it's getting really bad. A lot of mine came from bad posture and technique playing guitar.

It's likely being caused by gripping too tightly while holding back button. Long term you need to adjust how your holding the camera / how tight your squeezing to reduce the tension when your using back button focusing. Look at trying to turn your wrist in slightly rather than out when gripping the camera which will shorten the tendons and reduce tension on them when holding the camera. Get a good strap, I love my black rapid, so you are comfortable letting the camera hang when you're not using it so you can take breaks from gripping it regularly.

Short term if you can take a break, the best way to sort is to rest your arm for at least a few week do as little as possible with it, especially with the camera and take ibuprofen regularly for a few days unless your gp gives you a better ani inflamitory, to help it along.
super, cheers matey (y)

Some good information. Going to try switching bbf button as that seems to have caused it. If I cant, then I'll just put it back onto normal shutter - I managed with it before and I can do that again. Some really good info everyone - thank you so much for taking time to comment
 
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#19
I think you're doing something many of us are guilty of and that's not taking enough of the weight in your left hand. I wonder if a hand strap would be worth trying to reduce the increased stress in your palm and three fingers that are desperately clutching the grip.
 
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#20
I had a similar issue. For years I've carried my camera (film and dslr) over my shoulder but a couple of years ago I was doing a lot of street and documentary photography and found I'd get an ache in between my shoulder blades after about an hour. Something to do with perhaps involuntarily lifting my shoulder to ensure the strap didnt slip off?

I swapped to a hand strap from peak designs which stopped that immediately, then bought their longer slide camera strap so I could wear the camera diagonally across my body yet still have slack to pick it up and use it.
Worked a treat for me. The hand strap is brilliant, you can carry the camera with little pressure from the fingers. I use it this way all the time at events, only using the strap for walkabout/holidays etc.
 
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#22
@Carlh have you tried using a battery grip with your camera?
If so, have you tried it without.

They change the ergonomics somewhat, and might relive some of the problems you are having.
 
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Terry
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#23
Most back buttons seem to need some contortion to reach them. which is bad news as you tend to stay in that position for some time.
I know wishful thinking will not help. but it would be good if one hand could press a convenient button and the other do the shooting.
 
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#25
2p

my left arm is weak following a big OFF on the bike onto my shoulder
presently doing physio exercises to re-gain strength

anyway - a good 'interim' pain reliever is ''Voltarol Pain-eze Emulgel''.....................(y)
 

odd jim

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#26
Are you sure it's using BBF that's causing this? I honestly can't see how moving your thumb up an inch would cause you issues here? I'd go to the GP to make sure there aren't any other underlying issues.
 
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Phill
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#28
As mentioned above, it might be worth a consultation with an osteopath. GPs may frown on them, but I find that they can work wonders.

Was the pun intentional when you described them as shooting pains?
 
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Carlh
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#29
I shot an equestrian event yesterday - used shutter AF and my hand isn't any worse than before, so I think it is the BBF. I'll stick to shutter af for events (where I shoot thousands) and change it to BBF for portraits etc.. where Im taking a lot less images. Thanks everyone - I'll try out some of the medication(s) mentioned and if it does get worse, pop along to my GP if I can get an appointment within my lifetime lol
 
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#30
Are you using a monopod for equestrian stuff Carl?

As someone else mentioned (and I know I can be guilty of) we sometimes take too much of the weight in our shooting hand. That will really add to the stress, a monopod would help, maybe even a remote release.
 
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#31
A bit late here, but I have RSI from typing too much (previous job) and using the mouse to edit !!!

I've done the medical bit, but a change of position has helped a lot and I've finally bought a tablet too, which should help a lot too

Doing the same that got you the injury, however convenient, is NUTS

Enjoy the new challenges :)

Dave
 
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#32
I'd guess this a a combination of factors, and the BBF thing has just been the tipping point. Sorry if this sounds a bit patronising to a seasoned photographer, but back to basics ;)

With an AF camera, ALL the weight should be carried in the palm of your left hand. Stand at an angle to the subject, and pull your left elbow to the side of your body, gently but firmly, to form a supporting triangle.

A lot of users brought up on manual focus SLRs have their left hand on top of the lens (Don McCullin style!) for easier focusing but in those days the right hand didn't do anything much except trip the shutter, cameras were usually lighter, and we certainly didn't shoot 3000 pictures a day!

I think you can reassign BBF to another button on the Canon 600D listed in your profile. Or change to a body where the back-button naturally falls under your thumb, ie just to the right of the viewfinder.

A battery grip might be good, or a hand-strap adjusted nice and tight, but the button must still be in the optimum position. Or even a chest pod? Eg https://www.novoflex.com/en/products/camera-support-systems/chest-and-shoulder-support/
 
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#33
Good luck with finding a suitable solution. I've got some kind of arthritis or similar in both my thumbs after a decade of Blackberry abuse. When i type on phones i have to change from my thumbs or it's very painful. I can imagine that could be the same with repetition with an awkward shutter placement. It will always be there now for me, I had to adjust my methods to accommodate :-(
 
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#34
Hi,

Since I switched from normal shutter button with AF, to back button AF a few months ago, I have noticed a growing ache/pain in my right arm (Im left handed) - its got to the point now, where I can't straighten my right arm without shooting pains , especially around the elbow and - this is hard to explain "inside the arm" - I dont get pain from it being touched, its not swollen - but christ, it doesn't half hurt. It tends to get better a few days after a shoot but then when I do a shoot, its right back there, worse then previous - its got that bad that Im whinging to you lot! lol

Golfers elbow (http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/golfers-elbow-basics)
Tennis elbow
is more common but affects the outside of the elbow - talking from experience here - it comes and goes and like any RSI rest and anti-inflammatories [eg ibuprofen] makes a difference.
 
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#35
Personally at my age I take a number of vitamin supplements including Glucosamine Sulphate 1000mg twice a day and find that eases quite a few of my aches and pains but it certainly sounds as if you need to find a better way of shooting before you become totally incapacitated.
.
 
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#36
Have you tried physio?

The reason that I ask is that I injured my back a couple of years ago, it sort of recovered but flared up again and I've been referred to a Physiotherapist, who (as well as administering torture massage has given me a set of simple, but painful exercises that have really helped.

Anyway, my hobby/sport is clay pigeon shooting and a few weeks ago I gave myself a belt, no doubt the gun wasn't mounted correctly and it has left me with a shoulder that now won't take the recoil from 100 shots produced by my over/under every Saturday and every Sunday, and I've had to manage with the much lower recoil of my semi-auto, which I'm not allowed to use on my Wednesday night competition shoots, but I'm just about coping with the recoil from the 30 shots fired on Wednesdays with the over/under.

Anyway, to get to the point, my physio seems to know what the problem is with my shoulder and has given me some exercises for that too - too early to know whether these exercises will cure the problem or not, but it's looking promising.
 
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#37

Golfers elbow (http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/golfers-elbow-basics)
Tennis elbow is more common but affects the outside of the elbow - talking from experience here - it comes and goes and like any RSI rest and anti-inflammatories [eg ibuprofen] makes a difference.
I had that when I was younger, but over the last few years it came back. I didn't recognise it but it was due to a lot of office desk work and constant strain on my elbow. I got a better chair, an upright mouse to keep my forearm at rest, and focus on keeping my arm straight so I don't stretch the nerves as much. I can already notice the difference it is making. Still trying to find a comfortable sheepskin elbow protector.
 
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David
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#38
Hi,

Since I switched from normal shutter button with AF, to back button AF a few months ago, I have noticed a growing ache/pain in my right arm (Im left handed) - its got to the point now, where I can't straighten my right arm without shooting pains , especially around the elbow and - this is hard to explain "inside the arm" - I dont get pain from it being touched, its not swollen - but christ, it doesn't half hurt. It tends to get better a few days after a shoot but then when I do a shoot, its right back there, worse then previous - its got that bad that Im whinging to you lot! lol

Seriously, its really annoying and I dont want to go to the docs if I can help it (getting an appointment is a job on its own) - I'd rather not switch back to shutter button for AF as the back button AF is super-useful. At an event (commercial or public) Im taking between 1,000 and 3,000 shots in a day so I know the answer would be - stop using the back button focus - BUT, someone may have a tip to relieve it or prevent it another way.

Yours sincerely, Mr.Ouchy lol
Interesting because I used back button focus shooting football for years and used to get pains on the inside of the forearm, elbow - I actually put it down to holding a 1 series Canon and 70-200 one handed a lot - but since stopping using back button focus a year or so ago I've never had the problem.
 
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Mark D
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#39
I had major surgery on my ulnar nerve over three operations and it was due to my old Canon wedding work.
Now use Fuji and no wedding photography and that's why I went much lighter!
 
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#40
Well that a old topic but I can confirm I have the same symptoms here first it was a pain in the hand (thumb articular and the outside side the the hand) then day after day it was worst, the elbow then the shoulder. It took me 2 week to get better and today I have start shooting again and Boom, problems are back in town! I guess I will have to forget BBF or change for a lighter camera (Sony)
 
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