Possible Trigger Finger and Guitar Tendonitis symptoms from starting to play guitar again

by Joe
(Saginaw MI)

Hello Joshua,

I have been playing guitar for about 10 years now, practicing at LEAST 3-4 hours a day and never had a problem with my hands.

That is until I slowed down a few months ago and did not practice as much as normal (due to me taking on a second part time job).

Well now I am back to practicing as normal and very recently noticed a tightness in my index finger and knuckles on my left hand(fretting hand). It was my last band practice, 3 days ago that my index finger went numb and I experienced a warm sensation in my knuckles, this comes back every time I play, when I use my hand to grip certain things, or even type with all the fingers on my left hand.

I wouldn't describe it as debilitating pain but as a very weird feeling tightness and warm numbness.

I tried to research the symptoms myself and it seems Trigger Finger describes it best except for the "Trigger" or "Locking and Release" part of it.

My index finger doesn't get stuck in any one position but I do notice a minor swelling right under my index finger on the palm side of my hand and the tender pain when I massage it, followed by that warm tightness around my knuckles on the other side of my hand when I try to extend it all the way.

I already read your section on trigger finger and you describe that no therapy or massaging can help if that nodule is too big already, but I haven't noticed that sticking or locking of the finger when the tendon is getting stuck in the sheath so do you think I am past the point that anything other that surgery will help?

I have been super icing and ice massaging for 2 days now and plan to get some magnesium supplements asap.

But the tightness seems to get a little tighter every time I ice dip(but the inflammation is down substantially!), I am worried that it may be tightening to the point where it gets stuck in a fist or triggers the "trigger finger".

Can the ice speed up the process or make a problem that was already there more apparent?

....thank you for your time and this wonderful site.


Joshua Answers:

Hi Joe.

It sounds like you're at the very beginning stages of Trigger Finger, which also just so happens to be the beginning/middle stages of Tendonitis......which also happens to be a form of Tenosynovitis.

See: What Is Tendonitis?
That's a lot of different 'T's, but really, it's all about tightness and irritation/inflammation.

Are you icing the forearms too?

The tendons controlling the fingers are getting unhappy, the finger joints are getting compressed, and it's all from TOO MUCH TIGHTNESS in the forearms.

You need to counter the Process of Inflammation that is enlarging and stiffening the finger joints and tendons connected to them, BUT you also have to deal with forearm muscle/connective tissue tightness.

My Reversing Guitar Tendonitis ebook is a good choice for you. You're already doing a lot of the right stuff, it's just a matter of A. Doing the RIGHT stuff and B. Doing it enough to counter, and reverse the physical (and chemical) changes that have been taking place.

Overall, the key you HAVE to add in is opening up the forearms.

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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Comments for Possible Trigger Finger and Guitar Tendonitis symptoms from starting to play guitar again

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Apr 19, 2018
index finger
by: khenn

I play guitar and learning how to use barre chords. The guitar action is high and I need more power to press the strings. Then when I wake up my index finger hurts and when I make circular motion in counter clockwise a popping sound occurs. As I watch my hands I notice the tendon above my knuckle is the cause. I hope you could help me.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Khenn.

The tendon is not the cause, though that may be what's 'popping'.

If the tendon is popping, it's because the muscles attached to that tendon are too tight, are thus pulling too much on that tendon, so the tendon can't move in it's groove properly.

Proper playing ergonomics is a good/wise thing to learn/do. I don't deal with that, I deal with your body's ability to function correctly.

Basicly over time, things get tight, stay tight, get tighter, and then you start having problems from 'bad ergonoics' etc.

The ergonomics and the tendon (in this instance) get the blame, but the overall function/lack of function is what should get the spotlight.

Oct 11, 2015
Frustrated Guitarist
by: Bill

Hi Joshua.

Three months ago I was diagnosed with trigger finger in my index and pinky of my left hand.

This is a mild case, with nodule swelling, no clicking pain or locking. I had been practicing long hours for weeks, my fault.

In addition to trigger finger my palm below my pinky is swollen. Again, no pain there. I do have mild soreness in my index finger and thumb. My hand doctor could not explain the additional pain. I also seem to be inflamed in the muscle between my thumb and index finger.

I've tried massage, OT and acupuncture. No help. I haven't been playing guitar and have done my best to avoid gripping of any kind. The nodules have decreased in size, but because I never had clicking, etc., I'm not sure if the triggering portion is resolved. So now I'm not sure how to proceed with activity vs. doing something else. I'm taking B6 supplements.

Any thoughts? Thanks


Joshua Comments:

Hi Bill.

Read this thread, follow the links.

Come back with questions.

It's all a function of the tendonitis dynamic: chronic tightness of muscle and connective tissue, inflammation, and nutritional lack.

'Trigger finger' is a symptom. Reverse the causes, get the results you're looking for.

See: Pinkie Pain From Playing Guitar

Sep 01, 2014
index finger pain from guitar, going up the arm
by: M.R.

Hello, I just bought your ebook for guitar tendonitis after finding this site.

I have played guitar for 15 years with only minor problems, but recently I have been playing a new song that has a chord structure where my index finger is closed tight and basically curled up the entire song (for guitar players, the chords are Am, F, Dm, C), especially the joint closest to the finger tip. it puts a lot of strain on both knuckles in the index finger.

I practiced this song a lot and had been playing more than usual, and I started getting pain and stiffness in the index finger and index knuckles, and pain along the outside edge of the index finger. now I can't play more than a few minutes without getting a strong ache in that finger and pain/stiffness the next couple days.

To top it off, I think this pain radiated up my arm and started affecting my elbow. I had a large swollen spot in the typical golfers elbow location. Now it has spread to tendonitis in my forearm and thumb.

I tend to tense up while playing, so basically years of tension are finally coming to a head I think.

I've had carpal tunnel and other inflammation in the forearm but this pain in the index finger is what is really holding me back at the moment.

Is there anything I can do to target that area specifically?

I feel like the tendons or ligaments that keep the index finger from moving side to side and curling and uncurling are all sore. also i want to keep playing but have stopped to try and heal. I don't want to make it worse.

Is it best to not play for a month or two or play through it? I started taking glucosomine, multi vitamin, fish oil as well. thanks


Joshua Comments:

Hi M.

1. Glucosamine, a multi-vit (as long as it's a good one), and fish oil are good. Can't go wrong with that (though there's really no reason to take a cheap/low quality multi-vit)

2. "Is it best to not play for a month or two or play through it?"

The only benefit to Rest is that it reduces new irritation to an already irritated ecology.

Would it be a good idea to take 2 weeks off playing an go crazy on the self care? Yes.

Is it necessary or mandatory? No. But the more irritation you add in via playing guitar, the more self care you have to do and potentially the longer it will take to get things back to normal.

3. "I feel like the tendons or ligaments that keep the index finger from moving side to side and curling and uncurling are all sore."

As the ebook explains, that's due to the pain enhancing chemical released by your chronic Process of Inflammation.

4. "I've had carpal tunnel and other inflammation in the forearm but this pain in the index finger is what is really holding me back at the moment."

Good news/bad news, you -still- have the factors in play that caused that 'carpal tunnel and other inflammation'. Pain levels may have gone down, but the other factors stayed in place and continued to get worse.

That's the Pain Causing Dynamic.

5. So now you're feeling it in your finger. All the overall factors are in play, and it's likely that that finger-specific individual factors have been getting worse such that you feel it like you do, due to changes in how you're playing, using that finger more/differently, playing with too much tension, etc.

7. I'm not big on 'proper mechanics', but I am big on A. switching it up and keeping the body constantly adapting to something different (as opposed to constantly adapting to the same thing) and B. reversing any downsides with upsides.

See: New Ergonomics Definition

8. The ebook has what you need in it. And ultimately, you need to do what's in it for 10-14 days of serious self care (plus the nutrition).

Because you'll get a lot of important necessary information from that (how your responded, what you felt, etc) such that you can ask me questions in a couple weeks via email (not here please) and I can correlate what you've done with the results you've gotten.

See: Thumb Tendonitis And/Or Guitar Tendonitis Debilitating Is The Word

See: Guitar Tendonitis, Or It Hurts When I Play Guitar

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