Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Posts 1 to 24 of 24
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    I've recently gotten much more diligent in my guitar practice, and with that comes... wrist pain. I'm trying to play faster, so I've been using a metronome to run through chromatic exercises, scale shapes, etc. After unusually excessive use of my pinky especially, my wrist is slowing me down. I went a full day without practicing at all, and when I came back to it today, it's still a problem. guitar ringtone

    So any advice on overcoming the pain? Any kind of wrist band or something that will help? Any kind of treatment? Or is the answer simply practice less? I would like to practice as much as possible...mp3 ringtones free at:
    Last edited by MLeonard; 05-14-2021 at 03:13 AM.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    Here is something to review.

    Musicians' occupational injuries are often complicated. Improper technique for your specific anatomy can be the source of pain. Your anatomy will change over your lifetime as your joints age. It can be a good investment to see a physician who specializes these issues. They are all over the country.
    Musicians get hurt a lot: Paging Dr. Serap Bastepe-Gray | Hub

    Most people rely on music teachers and fellow musicians for advice. That usually works. When it doesn't, there are true experts who can address your unique situation.

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    I was having trouble with wrist pain and bought a pair of these about a year ago. They've been a big help.

    Why WristGrips?

    Tips for dealing with wrist pain while practicing?-wrist-grips-pic-jpg

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    you want to avoid developing chronic tendonitis. Its really difficult to get rid of..The older you are, the longer will be recovery.There are a number of strengthening routines you can do . I am dealing with a thumb issue now and about the only thing that seems to be actually helping ( besides ice and heat) is reducing playing time and wearing a brace...I wish there was a simple solution, my research has not found that to be true...

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    You can't be assured of proper treatment without a proper diagnosis. The best way to do that is with a Board Certified Hand Surgeon. Not just an orthopedist, but a hand surgeon. In cities where there is a symphony, there will be a hand surgeon, or a few, that deal with musicians' issues.

    In my case, wrist pain turned out to be from sleeping with my wrist in a curled position and I solved the problem by wearing a loosely fitted wrist brace at night. Your case may be different.

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    Stop playing and see a hand specialist. The last thing you want is permanent damage. Have the situation assessed and addressed. The body has a capacity to heal, but there are limits. Speaking from experience.

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    General Practitioner was unable to help me when I had this problem.

    I solved it myself by reading up on wrist anatomy. My problem - which might not be yours was inflammation caused by my tendons rubbing on the inside collapsed carpal tunnel which was caused by a bent wrist when playing demanding classical stuff (poor posture.) I remember it being painful and stopping me playing for some weeks.

    I corrected my technique and never had that problem again.

    Is your left hand wrist bent when you play, especially when making stretches etc? I don’t mean the natural graceful curve it makes normally with the arm, I mean actually bent.

    If yes, that might be it. If not see a specialist obviously.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    I had a similar issue years ago. Specialists insisted it was carpal tunnel and suggested an operation.
    I struggled to get thru a song.

    I found that using a strap on the guitar and holding in a more classical style (body between legs and neck pointing up) dramatically relaxed and straightened my wrist and the pain instantly disappeared.

    Can play all day now without any issues at all.

    its well worth a try.

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    that is a very good Idea.....simple yet possibly effective

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Typical things that happen when you learn new things and try to pick up speed are tension and problems in technique.

    Take your time and try to really observe where the tension comes from, then resolve it. Practice with the goal being effortless, fluid and perfect technique, not speed.

    Take breaks, warm up. If the pain insists, visit a specialist doctor.

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    I have had bouts of tendonitis in my wrists. One of the biggest things that helped me was practicing in 30 - 40 minute sessions MAX. Playing for longer would cause pain. I practice for 3 hours every day, but not all at once. Give your body some breaks. Another thing is posture. Make sure your wrist is straight. If your wrist is bent, you will get hurt. I have also found that if I slouch too much, my wrists start to hurt more. Everything is connected. You also want to make sure you are playing without any tension. If your pinky is sticking out (or any finger not even with the rest), you could be playing with much less tension. I went to physical therapy for my wrists, and found that using grip trainers helped me a lot -- now just because it worked for me does not mean it will be good for you. Exercise of any kind helps too. Good luck.

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    Yes - my advice is to maintain a straight wrist.

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    Which wrist? The specifics are different.

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    I have left wrist pain at the base of my thumb while playing for the last year. I tried various things, including not playing for two months. Nothing helped. The pain is not disabling and doesn't interfere with anything else I do, but it is distracting while playing.

    I thought it was tendinitis due to its location. De Quervain's, which is common, and common things occur commonly, as they say.

    I saw a good hand surgeon yesterday. Within a few minutes he convinced me it's isolated arthritis between the trapezoid and trapezium bones. This is a bit unusual. He suspected it strongly on exam and confirmed it by x-ray. This is likely from many thousands of bag punches in karate over the years.

    We discussed hand positioning changes. There is no point in splints, injections or surgery.

    I tell my story because it may help someone else. If your pain or any other dysfunction associated with playing because troublesome, consider going to a specialist in musician's medicine. The family doc usually won't help much. Other musicians can give suggestions that could work. If you want to get serious, then get serious. For guitarists, a smart hand surgeon (not a hack) can be a godsend.

    Here is a nationally known center.

    Treatments for Musicians and Dancers

    Hand surgeons are in almost every medium and large city.

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    Back to basics of biomechanics :
    Tendons connect muscles to bones
    They slide in a sheath like bicycle cables ; so friction issues happen when bending angle increases, with inflammation, swelling etc..
    Carpal bones make a U on dorsal side of the wrist and the carpal ligament closes the top of the U. Inside there are finger flexor tendons and medial nerveTips for dealing with wrist pain while practicing?-structures-wrist-carpal-tunnel-syndrome-jpg
    So it is in your interest to make those structures work with the least possible strain.
    First of all "do not play through pain"
    this article summarizes rather well the basic preventive tips for musicians :
    I would add that, for guitarists the neck of your instrument is something to consider : width, scale, string gauge, action...
    Anything that can help reducing the strain on your upper limb is good .

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    If you were UK based I'd recommend BAPAM. Their function is matching performing artists with GPs and specialists with an interest and expertise in treating these sorts of issues. Their website is here: BAPAM | Performing Arts Medicine

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    If you can read French :
    Sante des artistes, sante du musicien, du chanteur, du danseur, du peintre - Medecine des arts
    in Paris multidisciplinary consultations with surgeons, rheumatologists, physiotherapists etc :

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Lots of good advice here, and I have my own story of tendinitis, too. In my case it was caused not by playing guitar (which I did for 8 hours a day, every day, for years as a music major in college) but by improper ergonomics when mousing and typing at the day gig I took after graduating. My story has two takeaways:
    - See a doctor to get a proper medical diagnosis and treatment of any underlying medical issue.
    - See a competent teacher for evaluation and correction of mechanical technique that may be causing the physical issue.

    I'm not drawing a hard and fast connection between mechanical technique and all pain. This is why you want to see both a doctor AND a competent teacher. Arthritis is not going to happen because of bad playing technique but tendinitis or carpal tunnel most certainly can. Absent some preexisting physical issue like arthritis or untreated tendinitis, carpal tunnel etc. many people can play for hours on end daily without doing damage that causes pain. Once my tendinitis was resolved and my office ergonomics were corrected, I had no more issues with pain, even if I played long hours after working long hours.

    OTOH, I once bought an archtop that caused me pain within 45 minutes of picking it up. That went back to the seller. Another of the same model causes me no problems to this day.

    I've also found that grabbing my weighty Les Paul in hard case at arm's length will yank my shoulder in a way that causes extreme pain for a few days. Took a while to learn to break that habit, but now that I keep my elbow close to my body and lift carefully instead of grabbing and running for the gig, I haven't had that injury in a long time.

    I did not read the entire 145 pages of the dissertation, though it looks quite well researched. I have to wonder whether classical and flamenco technique is harder on the musculoskeletal system than playing jazz on an electric archtop... it seems like the latter enjoys a more comfortable positioning and reduced physical effort; just a guess...

    Anyway, hope this little bit helps. And while you're at it, there is a thread somewhere on this board about tendinitis and supplements like glucosamine sulfate, too. You might want to check that out.

    Good luck... hope you feel better soon!


  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Welcome to the Forum!

    Lots of great advice here! [I work in an occupational medicine clinic, and we see lots of "repetitive stress" problems with industrial and even some office workers!]

    Before getting surgery or anything else drastic, I'd certainly be interested in what your highly skilled and perceptive guitar teacher has to say (assuming/hoping you have one!). A lot of those problems on guitar are from poor posture/position (as others have noted) or unnecessary stress while practicing (i.e., gripping the neck unnecessarily hard, pressing on the frets unnecessarily hard), etc. -- things that you have control over! I've had many students (beginner and even intermediate) with the dreaded "thumb over the fretboard" while they're trying to stretch their fingers on the treble strings, and then they complain of pain ("Move your thumb down!"), and/or they hold the guitar in awkward positions that only increases muscle tension.

    So, what has your teacher told you to change?

    [and I hope you come back here and read all the great info people have posted above!]


  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Someone mentioned ergonomic office setups. I will +1 that. When I got hit with RSI around 2010 I also went to a full ergo setup with a vertical mouse (Evoluent) and a curved keyboard (Kinesis Advantage). Recently I've doubled down on that for my home computer set up since I'm doing much more work-from-home these days than in the past. Still, though I think the most important is REST until the situation resolves and then a straight (left) wrist. Also no marathon practice sessions...take a break every 30 min or so.

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    A couple years ago I was having wrist and elbow issues with the left arm.

    It took two changes ... first, getting the guitar neck more vertical than horizontal was a big help, reduced pain and discomfort dramatically. But didn't completely cure it.

    So on further study of where I was getting tension i realized that the old and very worn-low frets meant I had to squeeze hard to get no buzzing.


    So I had a forum member who's a luthier up in Beaverton look at it. He replaced the neck, adjusted truss, and put good thick frets on.

    Vastly easier to play now. $300 well spent.

    And no wrist/elbow issues since.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    Thought everyone else's thoughts were good, including getting expert opinions.

    Couple thoughts I have from my experience but not expert opinion:

    - Set up a guitar with 8s to practice on. Takes no effort at all to play but sounds like crap.
    - Do strengthening exercises. Can be counterintuitive but guitar is very fine motor and so can stress in very fine ways where the muscles, ligaments, and joints are more susceptible. I had pain in my left index finger from a previous injury and from smashing it down to fret. Started playing bass left handed for a few minutes a day to strengthen the finger. Voila, pain went away.

  24. #23

    User Info Menu

    I have a pinched nerve in my left wrist. I have to literally keep my geometry within a few millimeters tolerance or the pain quickly becomes unbearable.

    Spend some time investigating your geometry. When does it start hurting.

    For me the magic pill is to keep wrist as straight as possible and the left hand as relaxed as possible. That includes relaxing the whole hand for the milliseconds between chords, like a heart.

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    Great advice here, and condolences to the original poster for the pain, that sucks! I've also been dealing with left wrist pain, and when it's bad it's a radiating pain focused at the outside of the wrist but stretching from my pinky all the way to my elbow. It's definitely compounded by my other obsession: rock climbing on very small handholds. I've not seen a specialist yet (just a PT who focuses on pro rock climbers), but have given it lots of rest, ice, stretching and PT exercises.

    No matter how much I baby it, as soon as I have to do something like hold a 6th string 1st fret and 1st string 5th fret at the same time (specifically in Jonathan Kreisberg's arrangement of "Canto de Ossanha") the pain just flares up. I've found that proper posture, back and core engagement, and elbow position like others have mentioned helps.