Wrist and Thumb pain !

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lentini
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Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by lentini » January 9th, 2012, 5:13 am

Hello there - I haven't really found too much in the forum about this problem- And I wondered if any one else had experienced anything similar with pains in their thumb and wrist ( fretting hand ) and what they did to alleviate it... I have been learning acoustic for approx 6 months. I can remember when I first started learning open chords that I would get a pain in the base of my thumb the morning after practice..This eventually went away. But..... It's back again ( mostly whilst trying to perform Barre chords.) I'm fine during practice and after but the next morning my fretting thumb / arm kills ! ( I sometimes practice 2 Hrs ) Eventually I had to give it a rest and went to see the doctor. He told me that there didn't appear to be any lasting damage or signs of anything serious and sent me packing with some anti - imflams and instruction to rest. This I did and after approx 2 weeks I picked up my guitar and resumed practice. Everything was fine and even my Barre chords seemed better and less forced with no pain ! I thought that maybe because I was concentrating on my posture / hand position that I had corrected whatever was wrong...But NO after about a week the pain came back ( I was practicing songs with Barres again ! ) The pain seems to be centered in the base of my thumb and slightly in the wrist / arm sometimes... The thumb also "cracks" like crazy after a session....Just for info my tutor has monitored my hand positioning and is happy with it. I've also read and studied images and my hand placement looks fine....( It doesn't hurt at the time it's the morning after ! ) Sorry for the long post but it's really p#####g me off as all I want to do is practice....I'm hoping as I'm now mixing up my practice sessions with a smaller amount of time spent on individual techniques that my barring etc will eventually become less of an effort and thepain will go away.... That's what I'm hoping anyway !

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kent_eh
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by kent_eh » January 9th, 2012, 8:09 pm

lentini wrote: I'm now mixing up my practice sessions with a smaller amount of time spent on individual techniques that my barring etc will eventually become less of an effort and thepain will go away.... That's what I'm hoping anyway !

I'm no expert, but that sounds like a good strategy.
Take your practice in several shorter sessions. instead of 1 30 min session, do 3 10 min sessions spread out throughout the day.

Optionally, try lighter strings, or an electric guitar. That takes a lot less hand strength.
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep

Cat
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by Cat » January 9th, 2012, 8:41 pm

At 38 I had keyhole surgery on my left thumb joint. It was 100% from my guitars. Now I'm 60 and they are coming back to plague me again. This was one of the factors that got me into very light strings and very light fingerings. But on an acoustic??? I use .009's on my Epi dreadnaught. The sound is way less intense...but so are my own pain-generated sounds!

Oddly enough (or not so odd) fish oil caps actually make a noticeable difference...especially to my breath. But...whaddya 'spect from a cat??? :roll:

Cat
"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"

lentini
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by lentini » January 10th, 2012, 12:30 am

hey . thanks for your advice. I did downsize my strings from .012's to .010's when first attempting Barre's.. This did help initially but I'm finding the pressure I need to apply to to "sound" the barre fully is still high.. Anyway I'll persevere with mixing things up etc & Cat I hope that wasn't a premonition! I'm 38 tomorrow - Spooky ! :shock:

Cheers Len

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Crow
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by Crow » January 10th, 2012, 11:20 am

I live with arthritis in my picking-hand thumb & tendinitis in my fretting hand. It helps me to stretch before playing & ice down afterward. Also consider one of the squeeze-toy gadgets for hand strength -- NOT TOO HEAVY as you're already having pain. My squeeze toy is a soft foam thing....

Image

...from a mental-healthcare provider in Portland, OR. It seemed appropriate. :)
"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa

Cat
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by Cat » January 10th, 2012, 11:53 am

Hey, Dogbite...don't you have a set of those rubber squeezy things? Think this'll help this young fella out???

Cat
"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"

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dogbite
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by dogbite » January 12th, 2012, 8:16 am

Cat wrote:Hey, Dogbite...don't you have a set of those rubber squeezy things? Think this'll help this young fella out???

Cat
yeah I do. it is a putty that is color coded for density/resistance. tendinitis is still a problem for me. I do hand stretches before and after playing. it helps, but there is a chronic thing going on. I am seeing a doctor next week, because a new problem has popped up. my fretting ring finger locks; it moves like a stiff hinge with a cam in it.
in the mornings I can't close my left hand, but after warming it loosens.
after a few hours of rehearsal with the band everything moves freely, but is sore.

the original poster said he has problems with the pressure when he forms barre chords. I am of the opinion that most beginners use way too much pressure and fret on top the fret wire instead of behind it.
the secret is to realize the string is bent over the top of the fret, so pressure behind the fret is the trick.

lentini
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by lentini » January 13th, 2012, 1:54 am

Thanks for your replies: I'm sorry to hear of your prob's and hope that all goes well.
To be honest it's not just with barre chords that I get the pain although they do seem to exacerbate it. It appears that although I try and keep my arm n hand as relaxed as possible that my thumb is always tense / rigid - putting pressure on the joints when positioned or resting behind the fret board. (I have weird thumbs that don't bend back at the 2nd knuckle!)
I originally posted to see if anyone had experienced this when starting out (1st year or so) as I'm hoping it's a question of my joints becoming more flexible / stronger and that with time it will pass.
The last thing I want is for this problem to stop me before I've barely started! That's my main worry....
Thanks again -

Cat
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by Cat » January 14th, 2012, 2:59 pm

Reading your last post...it's quite possible that you are just putting too much pressure to hold a barre. I've used my bulldozer-driving analogy a few times over the years here on GN so here it is again:

When my gal came up against an object really tough to move ("lugging") I'd stand up, lean forward, grit my teeth, and push at the controls harder and harder and harder. C'mon...what freakin' good is that???

Get my point???

Cat
"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"

lentini
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by lentini » January 16th, 2012, 4:41 am

Haha! .. Point taken –and a good analogy! Both taken on-board.
From now on I'm gonna relax more and concentrate on getting my technique proper rather than the sound every time... ME. ME! (Minimum effort. Maximum effect!)
As far as my thumb goes - if problem persists, will have to see Doc again as maybe an underlying problem....
Cheers – Len...

MatthiasYoung
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by MatthiasYoung » January 20th, 2012, 10:11 am

Assuming that there is not actually a problem with your hand that playing the guitar simply brought to the surface, let's take a look at some things...

Your guitar - has the action been set up? Are you using the lightest strings you can?

Are you fingers properly positioned for barres? Don't squeeze your chords. Your hand should not act like a vice. Let the natural weight of the arm bring pressure down onto the strings. If your thumb is applying pressure in the back of the neck, then it is pushing in the opposite direction of the strings as they are being pressed down by your fingers.

lentini
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by lentini » January 23rd, 2012, 1:50 am

HI Matthias !
The action is factory set on a Tanglewood TW115as and is quite low already and as mentioned I'm using .010 “extra light” strings....
Your last statement is correct... Although my fingers are correctly positioned I'm still having to use a certain amount of pressure applied from my wrist / arm / thumb ( I did't really notice this at the time and didn't think that the pressure was excessive ) ....But it's become more apparent since my first post as now feeling pain in my elbow ! ..I've decided to take some time off practice in a hope that the pain subsides and when I pick it back up pay strict attention to the amount of “force” I have to use...
Of the advice on the net and what I've received on this superb forum –Thanks guys ! I understand that it's the weight of the arm that should be sufficient to make the full barre and even watched a guy on Youtube playing full bar chords without his thumb on the fret board at all!
What I'm trying to say is.... I now understand that the pain I'm experiencing is NOT normal and that very little or none should be experienced whilst learning / playing.... I hope if anyone else out there is having trouble that they too realise that this is not just a stage in practice! And is something that needs addressing from the start....

MatthiasYoung
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by MatthiasYoung » January 26th, 2012, 8:15 am

Hope the pain goes away soon so you can get back to playing! You can always try 9 gauge electric strings on your acoustic - the tone will be a little thinner due to the metal of the strings, but they will be very easy to play.

Cat
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by Cat » January 26th, 2012, 1:08 pm

All my acoustics use .009's...and YES...they are tinny sounding but if you change them often it's not so bad. Besides...what's the hassle with "tinny", anyway, when you just can't play it strung so difficult as it is? :?: Screw the sound, matey, and set it up so it plays as you see fit...

Cat
"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"

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Crow
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Re: Wrist and Thumb pain !

Post by Crow » January 26th, 2012, 2:27 pm

Hmm... I'm not a physical therapist (or a guitar teacher), but I'm going to go out on a limb & guess that changing your equipment (i.e. stringing with lighter & lighter gauges) to solve physical problems that occur as a result of bad technique is not gonna help in the long run. (By 'bad technique" I mean "technique that causes pain.")

Any PTs or guitar teachers out there are welcome to contradict me.
"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa

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