Finger paralysis when playing guitar and swelling of the finger next to the thumb

by Playing Guitar For 40 Years

Hello, I have been playing guitar for 40+ years and have had a few incidents where my 2 middle fingers have become usless and almost paralized with no feelings at all after playing my guitar at gigs after about three hours (40 minute sets 20 minute breaks) into the 3rd set it happens.

It usually goes away after a few minute rest but also it will linger on longer, it happens during a song. Thank god I have a second rythm guitarist to keep things going. This has happened as far back as 10 years ago to recently last year and has happened a total of about 5 different times.

It is scary to say the least. Usually I feel it about to happen by a sharp tightness in the wrist and about 3 - 4 inches up my arm from the wrist, a nerve or vein I think that is only a second long pain and feels like it will snap and the fingers go dead.

The doctor says to sqeeze a tennis ball and last month I bought a spring loaded finger exersizer that you sqeeze with seperate springs for each finger. I use it less than I should due to memory.

There is not a lot of pain but the finger next to the thumb has swelling sometimes and it will not bend to let the fingertip be able to touch the inner hand.

It is fine at the moment but this swelling has happened more recently and often than the dead fingers issue. Usually just the one finger beside the thumb. The dead finger problem hasen't happened for a good 4-6 months now but the swelling is more often and recent.

Is there a therapy to eliminate this issue from happening in the future. Thank you very much for your expertize.


Joshua Answers:

H Playing.

Well, that's interesting.

The sudden pain makes sense as some kind of spasm. Your muscles are too tight chronically, you play guitar (lots and lots of repetitive muscle contractions) and too tight/already irritatednon-optimalmuscle structures do not like it so they kick into a spasm.

If the 'deadness' kicks in aftet that, that makes sense that the spasm is clamping down on nerves. After a while, muscles relax (some) and nerve
flow returns.

Doctors would call that 'nerve damage', but really it's just a foot stepping on a waterhose.

That's how all Tendonitis works. Muscles and connective tissue gets tight, inflammation process creates pain, lack of necessary nutrition.

See: What Is Tendonitis

The swelling is either (or both) from those tight structures cuttong off return flow (certainly possibly, essentially) but more likely it's due to a heavy duty Process of Inflammation.

Inflammation does two things: It traps fluid in an area, and it releases pain enhancing chemical.

See: How To Reduce Inflammation

Your situation isn't 'the norm', but it's not horribly far outside the norm. Over time, things get tighter and tighter (you don't notice and you don't pay attention), then eventually there's some kind of pain/problem, you keep playing, eventually it gets worse.

'Worse' has a lot of different flavors.

Maybe you have a heart condition, maybe thyroid issues, maybe repetitive stroke (I don't know, but there's other health issues that can do weird things). Point being, the most likely cause is the tendonitis dynamic, and the development of the Pain Causing Dynamic.

You have a specific spot of more intense than usual spasm that causes further symptoms, but until I see differently, you need to do what I suggest everyone do for this kind of scenario: reverse the tightness and constriction, cut down the inflammation, and replace necessary nutrition.

For instance, see: Magnesium For Tendonitis.

Do the work, see what happens, reasses along the way. But without question, your muscles are too tight and that needs to be reversed.

More questions, more answers.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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