Ongoing wrist tendonitis for over a year from playing Guitar (and drums)

by Matt
(Australia )

Tendon pain from playing guitar, back of wrist, image picture

Tendon pain from playing guitar, back of wrist, image picture

Hello, I have been playing drums for almost eight years and I have never had problems with my wrists.

I started playing guitar about one and a half years ago, and a couple of months after I started I developed tendonitis in my wrist.

I believe the guitar caused the tendonitis, and more specifically, the pushing on the back of the fretboard with my thumb. (I am 17)

I have had ongoing tendonitis since then, and it is now become chronic.

I have tried to show the pain area in the photo.

It is the large tendon that runs up the arm on the inside of my left arm. The area is not as swollen as it was when it was at it's "worst" and there is a thickening of the tendon in the area.

(I think it is where some of the tendons join) The pain is only mild, and bearable, but i have had it for over a year now and it has not gone away.

There is also a lot of clicking in the wrist when i rotate it, or move it. It feels weird all the time and i have to squeeze the wrist and then move it around until the clicking stops, and then it feels normal again.

When I play guitar for an extended period of time, the underneath of my wrist feels tight and tense, and it can ache.

As I said above, I am pretty sure that it is the pushing of the thumb action (almost like pinching) that is the problem, as well as the bent wrist that is required to play the guitar.

The pain can also extend up the arm as well (almost to the elbow) at (bad) times.

I am not sure what to do. Do you think the ice bath method will help even though it is not acute and swollen? (I have not tried it yet, but i did ice it in the past when it was bad)

Also how many times do
you dip your hand in the ice bath in the two hours.

The tendonitus seems to have settled into a constant state, with no sign of improvement, and I really want to fix it so i can play guitar more.

Thanks Matt


Joshua Answers:

Hi Matt.

Ice dipping will absolutly help. A minimimum of 10 times in the two hours. And, if you're home all day on a weekend, keep an ice bath going and dip all day long.

You may want to Ice Massage as well. I would.

Drumming helped create a scenario such that when you started playing guitar, your forearms started to quickly get less and less happy.

Thanks for the picture. I suspect that part of this issue is not just the thumb action, but I bet you cock your wrist back in some manner while playing, yes? Or potentially forward. Or both, depending on what you are doing.

Pay attention to and modify this action. Don't cock the wrist too much, and don't hold it for too long.

And train yourself to keep your muscles as relaxed as possible while you play.

Too much strain causes Tendonitis symptoms.

Were I you I would also increase my nutritional intake.

Less sugar. (it steals nutrition from your body.)

Supplement with Magnesium for Tendonitis

And Bone Broth as the best Tendon Supplements

Oh, also, regularly massage the forearm muscles throughout the day. Too tight muscles constantly put tension on unhappy tendons.

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

Subscribe to The Tendonitis Expert Newsletter Today!

For TIPS, TRICKS, and up-to-date Tendonitis information you need!




Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.

I promise to use it only to send you The Tendonitis Expert Newsletter.

Comments for Ongoing wrist tendonitis for over a year from playing Guitar (and drums)

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Nov 07, 2009
Guitar posture/technique
by: Anonymous

A short lesson on guitar playing posture

Classical position straightens your wrist angle out, allows wider stretches, and creates less tension. Really helped my left wrist out when I started to get pains.


Joshua Comments:

Thanks for adding that, whoever that was.

Nov 08, 2009
PART 2 - More Questions - Ongoing wrist tendonitis for over a year from playing Guitar (and drums)
by: Matt

I played drums today, and i feel that the tendon i marked in the diagram was heavily in use while drumming. (I haven't played drums very often lately)

There is either a combined problem between drums and guitar, or two separate problems.

How many days/weeks do you think it will take of icing before it is cured. (From past experiences etc.)

What is better ice bathing or ice massage?

And how much magnesium should i take.

Also i am trying to change the position i play guitar in, but i can't tell you if it is effective, because im having a break from it over the next couple of days. But I won't be able to change they way i play drums, because i have been taught the best way to play (flat wrist, with palm down)


Joshua Comments

I wouldn't say it's a combined problem, so much as, you use those muscles/tendons for various actions. Not that the tendon is irritated, etc, anything you do with it is going to cause the sensation of pain.

Answers to your Magnesium question on the Magnesium Dosage page.

Ice Dipping and Ice Massage are both great. Dipping effects the entire ecology of the lower arm, and Massage effects deeper into the structure and allows for more specific work ont he tendon and muscles themselves.

How long? That really depends. It depends on whether you just have a tendonitis dynamic of tightness and pain, or have actual damage to the tendon.

Icing will reduce pain. Will it cure you? Only experimentation will tell. If you hit it hard with dipping and massage, that's the best way to find out, along with my other suggestions.

Consider this a learning experience. It would be great if there was a magic pill or a quick fix, but the body really doesn't work that way.

And if you want to play for the rest of your life, it's worth it now to learn how to deal with the aches and pains issues that come with it.

First things first. Knock down the Process of Inflammation. Once the pain is low/gone, we can more easily identify what exactly is the source of the problem.

Jul 05, 2010
I couldn't relate more - Ongoing wrist tendonitis for over a year from playing Guitar (and drums)
by: Anonymous

Hey Matt, it is crazy how we have the exact same problem. Im 17, played drums for 6 years, guitar for two, even used to live in Australia. Please tell me you solved your problem because I want my problem fixed aswell. I've found icing takes down swelling and pain but after i play guitar again it comes right back.


Joshua Comments:

Hi anonymous. Funny how Tendonitis works the same way in most everyone....

FYI, icing does lower pain levels (and it can make things a lot better) but it's not a 'fix' and it's just part of the self care routine.

Having said that, it's GREAT at lowering pain levels.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Ask The Tendonitis Expert .

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.