Discomfort in finger joints when playing.

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by ftr, Feb 25, 2018.

  1. ftr

    ftr SS.org Regular

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    I figured I would go ahead and post this. So, starting like last year, the joints in my fingers (mostly the joints just before my fingertips) started to feel uncomfortable when I would play lead. I really don't know how to describe it, it's a problem I never had before. Worst case scenario, I am thinking mild arthritis maybe? I don't know. I just notice when I do bends and vibratos, especially when I warm up just feels there is discomfort and irritation in my joints. I don't want it to get worse. Thoughts?
     
  2. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    What gauge of strings do you use, and how is your guitar setup? I've had similar symptoms with too thick strings when playing long enough, because of higher tension they usually have. Fix was to use lighter gauge. Or it could be your playing technique, if it isn't something that really needs medical analyzing or help for it.

    Guitar World posted few days ago a good video featuring John Petrucci, it's mostly about bending and vibrato. Look where his left hand movement starts, it starts from the wrist, and the wrist really moves in circular motion counter clockwise or clockwise. If movement starts too much from the fingers and you force just them to bend the string, it might cause that kind of pain in joints.
     
  3. ftr

    ftr SS.org Regular

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    I started using regular gauge (46-10 in E and E flat) last year and just recently switched to an even lighter gauge (42-9). My action is setup to where it's comfortable, pretty low action across the whole fretboard. However, a few years ago, I was using really thick gauge strings which there was no point in me using when I could have easily been using a lot lighter gauge for the tuning I was in. I had this mindset of no pain no gain or something and I was thinking maybe thicker gauge meant stronger fingers. It was pretty stupid looking back. I am considering the possibility that that extra unnecessary resistance of the string gauge might have wreaked havoc. Also, my hands are pretty small so there is that. It might have been too much for my fingers. It's been a while since I switched so I thought my joints would have healed up by now. I am not sure if that's how it works though.
     
  4. Humbuck

    Humbuck SS.org Regular

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    You just gotta play more. You'll be fine.
     
  5. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire grossly incandescent

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    Is this a recurring pain? Is it more of a dull throbbing or is it sharp stabbing? Do your fingers hurt even if you don't play guitar?

    I'd say warm up more and spend some time building up finger strength/endurance. Also try going with lighter strings if this is a recurring problem. You can always go back to bigger strings once you build up the endurance/strength.
    If you want to mitigate the pain just take an ibuprofen as needed.
    I doubt you have arthritis, it usually manifests as a constant dull throbbing pain, with swelling/redness around the joints, which limits dexterity.
     
  6. tuttermuts

    tuttermuts SS.org Regular

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    Something I've encountered that might help=> drink less sodas. Personally I love me some dr. Pepper, but if I drink it too regularly I start feeling that in my fingerjoints.
    Lots of straight up water is always a good idea in general.
     
  7. auxioluck

    auxioluck Metal Teddy Bear

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    I have tendonitis in my left elbow, and it causes the fingers in my left hand to get tight and sore when I first pick up my guitar. Honestly, the only remedy I've found is to just do slow warm ups for a few minutes before I start trying to shred or do any crazy bends or chording. After about 3-4 minutes, my fingers loosen up and feel a lot better.

    Check out hand/wrist stretches for Carpal Tunnel (I'm not saying you have Carpal Tunnel, but the stretches are good for your wrists and fingers), and also try just shaking your hands every now and then to keep them loose.

    You could also try icing your wrists and elbows to see if that helps. And like tuttermuts said, as a general rule, less soda and alcohol and more water is good for your joints as well. If you like tea, Yogi has a great detox tea you can try to see if there's some crap muddying up your joints. If you're having the same problem with other muscles or joints, you could try some B12 supplements to aid in recovery.

    Definitely don't push it too hard without warming up or building finger muscle (either by playing or using hand strengtheners), because then you start running the risk of finger sprains, which really suck. Though that's a pretty rare thing with guitar as far as I know - I got mine from playing hockey.
     
  8. Lasik124

    Lasik124 SS.org Regular

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    If you've been playing for years its quite possibly just some wear and tear.

    You may need to rebuild some muscle. Try a few different things. First try some stretches and exercises that target where your pain is. I bet those gripmaster hand exercisers would help!

    Try lowering your gauge of string. Try being more conciouss not to press to hard on notes or tense up. You may need to adjust your technique slightly

    Best of luck!
     
  9. gujukal

    gujukal SS.org Regular

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    I also noticed some discomfort today when i was practicing sweep picking which i've barely done before, not really any pain but more of a fatiguing feeling, kinda like when your pushing yourself in the gym. I would think it has to do with not playing enough and pushing your fingers to what they are not used to. Do proper warm ups and push lighter on the strings as people mentioned, not tensing up is a big factor i think, which i tend to do a lot when I'm playing slightly above my limit.
     

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