Professional Guitar Player with Mild pain in the wrist

by Attila Tapolczai
(Galway, Ireland)

Hi Joshua,

I'm a professional guitar player, I play 3-4 gigs a week plus practice/record quite a lot. In the last 7 months I played more than in the previous years, I had personal problems too so I had a lot more tension on me than it would be "normal".

Anyway, a month ago after a very busy day (I recorded 7 songs and I had a 2 hours long gig in the evening) I felt tightness in my left forearm and later on I felt mild pain in my wrist on the same hand.

I went to a phisyiotherapist who gave me laser/ultra sound/electric/massage/ice/warmth treatment, then I felt better and I also tried to reduce the guitar playing as much as I could.

I read a huge amount of material about tendonitis, CTS, etc. on the net and I think your website is one of the best source, I strongly sympahize with your approach. I understand that we need to help our body solving the problem, we have to make it live instead of just rest, medicine or surgery. I've also studied the anatomy of the hand and forearm a little bit.

The longs and shorts of it, my problem is mainly in my left wrist. Sometimes I feel as if it's not the tendon but the bone where the pain comes from. It's in the thumb side of the wrist but not where the thumb tendon goes. Often with cracking sound.

I also feel the tightness in some tendons/muscles in the forearm halfway between my wrist and elbow.
It appears mostly (almost only) when I play the guitar, I get tired much faster on the instrument than before the injury.

Also when I do the Carpal Tunnel test, I feel a very light pain in the left wrist and after the test I feel a little tingle in the tip of my first finger. Also when I push the thumb and the first finger together I feel a very mild pain in the shoulder.

I've found stretching exercises recommended by musicians and I also spoke with a friend of mine who's a PE teatcher, he told me about the right stretching technique. I've been doing a set of stretching for a week now, every day. I also do self-massage every day and when
I have to play the guitar I do icing after a few songs.

I read about the possible lack of magnesium I take it now too every day with vitamin D and also B6. All these things feel good especially that the whole problem is not a mystery for my any more that would make me panic.

I hope I do the right things but the problem is not gone although it haven't got worse either.
I'm very interested if you could give me any other advices or could you say anything for these symptoms.

Thank you

Attila from Galway, Ireland


Joshua Answers:

Hi Atilla.

It sounds like you're doing a lot of the right things.

I suspect that you're just not doing enough.

Kind of like tug of war. One side is pulling (and causing pain). You need to pull MORE than the other side to make things feel better, and then you need to KEEP pulling more until the other side falls into the mud. If you stop pulling, the other side keeps pulling and you'll sooner or later be in pain again.

The Pain Causing Dynamic is a mechanism. Understand it.

Tendonitis is a very predictalbe beast. You're learning about it. You're motivated. Great. The more you learn, the better you'll get and making the pain go away, and keeping it away.

See: What Is Tendonitis

Guitar Tendonitis is no different, though it has a couple unique flavors to it.

Just like you've learned to play guitar, it's time to learn to take care of your body (now required to continue to play the guitar).

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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Sep 24, 2014
18 year old professional guitarist with wrist tendonitis
by: Bob M


I'm an 18 Year Old Professional Guitarist in the UK. I've been playing for about 9 years and I've developed tendonitis over the last year.

I have inflammation in both wrists and also slightly below the thumb joints. I've seen a doctor and a physician over the last 9 months.

The physician gave me ultrasound treatment and temporarily 'cured it' (for about 2-3 months) The doctor prescribed me 400mg Ibuprofen (which has given me short periods of it going and generally a reduced swelling.

I'm off to Music School / Conservatoire in a few weeks and I'm really desperate to get rid of it before moving to London!

I regularly use icepacks on my wrists and I'm still taking the 400mg tablets. I've also got a local sports physio place nearby which does tendonitis / carpal tunnel related massage, I was thinking of booking a session.

What would you recommend I do?
I'll be able to rest for 2 weeks if needed.


Joshua CommentsL

Hi Bob.

I would book a session and see how it goes.

But, while skilled massage is excellent, it doesn't fix nutritional insufficiency/deficiency, and may not be able to get rid of the inflammation, depending. Have them assess what your neck/shoulder posture is doing.

Follow the links in this thread and read them.


Inflammation Causes Vitamin B6 Deficiency. Magnesium is a huge player also. And get your Vitamin D level checked.

The Process of Inflammation

Also, using Ice Packs just isn't going to cut it. See How To Reduce Inflammation

See related: Long Term And Spreading Tendonitis From Playing Guitar

See related: Pain IN Thumbs And Fingers When Playing Guitar Especially Left Thumb

Apr 30, 2014
"different" pain
by: Tiago

Hi, thanks for answering.

I rarely do ice.
I don't treat it to well, I guess...
I try to stretch my arm and wrist before I play...

Somedays I just play and feel absolutely ok, others I feel my wrist really weak and fragile... and some pain..

On last two weeks, I've felt a "different" pain all over the arm, from the shoulder to elbow and wrist, like a warm sensation...

what other things should I do?

Sorry my english.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Tiago.

Your english is fine. No problem.

See: Magnesium For Tendonitis

See: How To Reduce Inflammation

Apr 23, 2014
Professional Guitarist With Left Thumb Pain
by: Tiago


Thanks for the opportunity to share all these situations and I hope you can help.

I have left thumb pain since May 2013. I'm a professional musician and I play guitar.
When I noticed the problem, I just stopped playing at home... I just play when I have live shows.

I play A LOT with my thumb on E (low) string, a la Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The pain is located "inside" my hand, between my thumb and index finger. If I press too much I can find the right spot. Sometimes I wake up and the other side of the hand, the "external" feels like it's burning!!! Really strange... I feel really depressed because this is my life...

I spent lots of money in physiotherapy, and they found out I had De Quervain's Syndrome... then I went to acupuncture and the therapist used some needles on my wrist but the pain is always here :(

Help me with this.. I'm confused:
- What is better to help my thumb/wrist? A thin neck or a thick neck guitar?

Hope someone can help me.

Sorry for my bad english :(

Thank you all and I hope you get better!



Joshua Comments:

Hi Tiago.

How are things now? Give us an update.

Dequervains Tendonitis is a fancy label for 'thumb tendonitis'.

That spot you find really IS part of the problem, but it's not the whole problem.

DeQuervain's can however often include elements of Tenosynovitis, which basically means the tendon sheath from the thumb muscle in the forearm gets REALLY inflammed and irritable and stubborn.

Didn't sound like that so much from your description but thought I'd through that tidbit in there.

So. What do you have to do to help it? You have to reverse the factors that make up the Pain Causing Dynamic.

A wide necked or narrow necked guitar isn't going to make a lot of difference, because the PROBLEM is that your hand/arm is not functioning like it's supposed to. Ergonomics can help, but personally I'd rather have a functional body than a not functional body and some crutches.

I do actually have a 'Reversing DeQuervain's Tendonitis' ebook done, but don't have the salespage etc set up. Contact me via the contact form (tab is over on the left of the page) if you want to get that and start that before I get it set up on my website.

Other than that, what have you been doing for self care besides Rest (which doesn't work)?

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