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pcalia davegross GypsyBassGuitar Sultan_of_Swing

LH tendonitis, thumb/hand joint. Remedies?

PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
in Technique Posts: 1,468

All right, gone and done it. Ignored my age, I guess, practice too long, and ignored developing tendonitis where the thumb meets the hand. Do a lot of stretching routines, but it's only getting worse - probably a "duh," as I play through it as it's an obsessive nature I will probably have to contend with till I turn to wormfood.

Any recommendations for dealing with this? I've had a ton of injuries but never anything quite like this, so not sure if among you wizened players you have some routines that work well for you to ameliorate the inflammation. The likely, I know, is probably stop until it goes away, but I'm hoping that's not the case and someone among you has a diamond routine.

Many thanks.


pas encore, j'erre toujours.


  • mac63000mac63000 Tacoma, WANew Geronimo Mateos Jazz B
    Posts: 189

    Dang, that's never pleasant. As someone who also deals with joint issues (knee injuries from soccer, plantar fasciitus, similar hand issues from guitar, typing at desk job... Shoot, and I'm only 32 in September), managing the inflammation is really important to sort of get things "under control". Ibuprofen or Aleve were what I took for knee inflammation along with ice, physical therapy, and more ice haha. I would say if you haven't started, add regular icing to your routine, typically after using the sore joint or at the end of the day. Twice daily is what I usually do. As for the otc pain relief and PT exercises, I would suggest consulting a more professional opinion than my own!

  • mac63000mac63000 Tacoma, WANew Geronimo Mateos Jazz B
    Posts: 189

    Should add that I hope it subsides soon for you! Best of luck!

  • Hi,

    Long time reader, first time poster.

    I’ve battled tendonitis for 25 years. It’s been especially bad this June. Here's what I do:

    1. Chromatics up and down the entire fretboard. This also allows me to work on my picking at the same time. Start slowly, and don't play so fast you miss out on the natural stretch as you come back down the fretboard.
    2. Stretch. Extend your arm and hand straight out, palm down. Let your wrist hang down and then gently push it further with your other hand. Then stretch up. The second time, instead of pushing with your other hand, curl the fingers of the hand you're stretching under your wrist. This is the good stretch.
    3. Advil. If it's bad, take it every 4 hours.
    4. BioFreeze after playing or just when it hurts. I use the roll-on. I put it all around my wrist and my elbow, where I also feel pain. I find it works better than ice, if only because I don't have to do anything but apply it. It does have a smell, but it's a small price to pay.
    5. If it hurts, don't play. If it hurts while I'm playing, I stop.

    Back to lurking.


  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Altamira M10
    Posts: 692

    Paul, remember that putty stuff that I said I got from my physio I recommended for you? It was for this same issue. Didn't warm up. We were recording in the living room. Started with Daphne at a really fast tempo. All those changes using "thumb" chords and I knew I was playing through pain but didn't stop because of the recording. Still hurts me to this day.

    Remedies for me:

    1) Yes, warm up before playing. I think Yaakov Hoter has a stretching video on youtube. That putty is good for this too. Then start in gradually.

    2) I stopped playing thumb chords for a long time. For sure none for the 7th chords with root on the 6th string. I used to play A7 with my thumb on the A (5th fret) and then my first three fingers to play the D chord shape so 5x565x was played with fingers like Tx132x. It was great because I could hit the #5 as a hammer-on. I switched voicings to now play 5456xx w/ (2134xx) if you can make sense of that notation. A bit crunchier sound and better for rhythm. G6/9 with thumb 355455 became G6/9 as 3x2233. I've slowly introduced some back into my playing but it (my thumb) doesn't like going in and out of them quickly.

    Also used biofreeze, ibuprofen (or as the military calls it, "Vitamin M" in Motrin) and had the hand therapist massage it with ultrasound and physical massage for several sessions. I don't know if it will ever go away, but it is now controlled.

  • QuadropentaQuadropenta New England USANew
    Posts: 108

    See a Rheumatologist to determine whether you have arthritis. Instead of trying to diagnose & treat yourself.

  • ChristopheCaringtonChristopheCarington San Francisco, CA USANew Stringphonic Favino, Altamira Chorus
    Posts: 122

    @BlankandtheBlanks Just a note, and you and to anyone else who takes over the counter pain meds to help bodily aches: get Tylenol Arthritis. Has a dual acting agent, so it lasts 8 hours instead of 4.

    Plus, acetaminophen (tylenol) has nearly no serious repercussions from long-term usage (unless you're a poor soul who can't take it), vs ibuprofen (Advil & Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).

    Source: work in pharmaceuticals, and verified with multiple physicians. Obviously consult your doctor for serious pain or long-term issues though.

    billyshakesBlankandtheBlanksPassacagliaBucoBill Da Costa Williams
  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Altamira M10
    Posts: 692
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,182

    Paul, I have chronic pain in the same area but I'm pretty sure mine is arthritis. I think they call it "skiers thumb" or something like that. The arthritis shows up later in life due to a previous injury (I broke that wrist years ago). I may have some tendonitis mixed in, who knows. It gets sore if I play too much so then I lay off for a day or a few and be careful with it and thankfully the pain goes away. But it always hurts to some extent if I play but usually manageable. When I am laying off playing I try to be careful with it and keep it tucked in and not do anything that wrenches it outward and that seems to relieve it. Ice helps too. Try taking it easy on it for a few days and no guitar and see if you can get it to calm down???

  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2020 Posts: 1,468

    Thanks very much guys - all this is really helpful stuff to put in place. I've always been lazy with ice, despite some pretty brutal training back when, that demanded it. And you're right, dumb move as I paid for it. Living in a martial arts/zen temple as an "uchideshi," yeah, swallowed ibuprofen like candy - I don't even want to say how many. I know that does a serious number on your....liver, is it? try to avoid NSAIDS whenever possible. Thank you, Christophe, for the tylenol arthritis note, and tylenol generally. Wasn't aware of that. Always took ibu for pain and tylenol for headaches (unless it's a hangover - that's on me, lol), but wasn't aware of the long term use info, so yes, thanks.

    Billy, your 7ths info is great. Yes, I tend to fret the same way, with T at 5, as that also allows me to pull the good old Nous'che pinky for added flavor. The other way I like to do 7ths is with a barre, 1st. 2nd and 3rd fingers (A7: 57565x with T3121X). Generally it feels fuller to me, though the standard 5x565x 1X243X I also like for the easy change to the Maj6th. You're right - either T or esp. the barre is not kind right now.

    Thanks you guys. Because it's tetchy, will lay off for a couple days and nurse it, I think, and be smarter going forward. Great time to work the first section of Gypsy Picking, which I just started back into.

    By the way, I do actually do wrist and finger stretches prior to practicing. They come from Aikido, which is what I taught. My Master's was of the frisky end of the Aikido continuum, so we got beat to crap. Tons of joint locks and throws or takedowns using the joints, and the wrists especially take some abuse. So, we took a lot of time devoted to warming them up. In case they're useful, I'll take some pics and post them here.

    Edit: Forgot to add, Bones and Quadropenta, thanks for the note, possibility of arthritis. Yes, a different ballgame. I'll get in touch with my doc.


    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Altamira M10
    Posts: 692

    If you were doing that barre with your thumb for the 7th chord already, I was also shown it so A7: 57768x with T2214x where you put the 7th (G) on the top. Many times, you might not want to play that high note if it would interfere with the soloists register but it is also a nice voicing to try if you don't mind those middle finger double stops.

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