Guitar Tendonitis, or It Hurts When I Play Guitar.
(Santa Cruz county)
Hi, Joshua, I think I've developed tendonitis from repetitive picking of the guitar in my right hand.
I spent last summer playing 4 to 6 hours a day of pure up and down picking trying to get faster.
I felt pain in my thumb on the inside part of my wrist and up the arm. and it hurt to grip a pick.
I've rested and have not played for very long now months and months.
So according to your advice I should ice like crazy. I also plan on practicing on different guitars and in different positions and often as possible so i stay ahead of the "ergonomics" thing.
How long should I ice before I start playing again?
And: if the tendon has microscopic rips does the ice thing help your tendons heal faster? Unlike the usual wait months and months that they tell you?
Thanks, any help would be great appreciated.
P.S. I've also been taking Glucosamine.
Hi Joel. Thanks for asking your questions.
We all have hobbies that we love, and sometimes they can cause us some problems.
Answers to your questions in no particular order:
1. "They" say to rest for months and months.
Unfortunately, Rest just doesn't work.
It's predictable that -anyone-, and certainly any guitar player with your symptoms and story could take months off, get back to playing, and start hurting again, pretty much right where they left off.
Rest does not reverse the Pain Causing Dynamic.
2. Glucosamine: Great. It can't hurt and can only help. Results vary.
3. If you do have true Tendonitis, with little micro rips and tears, then yes, Ice Dipping will essentially help you heal faster.
4. How long should you ice before you start playing again?
It really depends on how 'crazy' you go with the Ice Dipping.
I say 10x for 10 seconds over a two hour period. That provides a lot of bang for the buck. If you want to get out of pain faster, double or triple the number of dips.
If you go crazy, then you can start playing guitar a little on the 4th day.
You will need to continue Ice Dipping as you help your hand into an Upward Spiral.
Playing guitar and your current physiology will try
to make it a Downward Spiral.
Ice Dipping will combat all the negative variables.
So, the more you play/want to play, the more you will need to Ice Dip.
Does that make sense?
5. Switching up guitars and playing styles/positions is A GREAT IDEA!
You got it!
6. You may have some Tendonitis.
You certainly have a Tendonitis dynamic of tightness and pain all the downsides of that.
The muscles there in the thumb pad, and the forearm muscle that helps curl the wrist, are definitely WAY TOO TIGHT, stuck in a way too tight mode.
Ice Dipping will help that, and start reversing the Pain Causing Dynamic your hand is stuck in.
You can also help it by regularly, throughout the day, reaching to that thumb pad area and just massage it for 10-30 seconds.
Squeeze the dry crunchy sponge of the muscle, and help it become a wet, squishy sponge.
In other words, little bits of repeated squeezing will help you out more than you can imagine.
7. In the near and far future, after you get your hand healthy again, you can play guitar as much as you want.
You will want to keep in mind that the more you play, the more your hand and forearm want to go into a Downward Spiral.
Learn how to play guitar as much as you want without pain by learning how to counter the downsides of lots of play with Ice Dipping.
Feel free to ask any other questions, and keep me updated.
Let's get you out of pain and back to doing what you love.
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Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert