During an interview with Bass Player magazine, Cannibal Corpse’s Alex Webster discussed his battle with focal dystonia. That condition is a rare neurological disorder that involves involuntary spasms in small muscles in the body.
Webster said the following:
“Focal dystonia is essentially an injury, but not the kind of injury that people would normally think of — it’s not carpal tunnel, or a tendon problem, or something like that. It’s essentially a neurological problem, and it happens in a lot of disciplines that require precise, repetitive movements, and not just in music.”
He continued when asked about the symptoms:
“The normal fingerpicking that I would do would become very strained. It seemed as if my pointer finger would be going left instead of down. When I first noticed something was going wrong, it was very confusing and frightening. I was, like, ‘What’s going on with my right hand? Why isn’t it behaving the way it’s behaved for the past 30 years?’
Basically, the signals from your brain are going wrong on the way down to your fingers. Imagine your legs walking. What if the signal from your brain was telling both legs to go forward at the same time? That’s not exactly what was happening with my picking fingers, but certain signals were definitely getting through and certain signals weren’t.”
Webster also added that natural therapy helped solve his issues:
“I saw a specialist named Joaquin Farias, who helped me out very much, and I also spoke with a classical guitarist, Apostolos Paraskevas, and the bassist Scott Devine, who gave me tips on their bouts with this. It’s something that can often be resolved, which is good news for anyone who gets it. You just have to work through it, learn what you need to correct, and then take the time to correct it.”