Severe hand pain?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by will_shred, Jan 10, 2016.

  1. Science_Penguin

    Science_Penguin Regular

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    Nov 18, 2013
    I've experienced a great deal of wrist pain and general discomfort in my time playing guitar. I dunno if its the same kind of pain you're experiencing, but maybe the solutions I found for myself can help you too:

    First and foremost- my guitar needs to be well-balanced. My first guitar was TERRIBLE in this respect, and as a result, one morning after practising I woke up with my fretting hand almost completely numb and I couldn't grip anything all day. It healed after a day or two, and I can thankfully play just fine now, but even to this day it feels a little numb sometimes.

    Fretting quickly is a difficult enough task for your hand without also forcing it to hold your neck upright, and sadly, even a Strat-shaped guitar isn't perfect. You're gonna want to make sure it stays put. For this, a leather strap goes a long way. Doesn't have to be super-wide as long as it grips your shoulder well. Of course, some guitars really can't be helped, so I'd say avoid anything with severe neck dive regardless.

    Second, I no longer try to force myself to "get used to" a neck.

    I have rather small hands. As I've discovered, this means playing those wide, flat Ibanez/Jackson style necks is a bad idea. Even if I keep my guitar strapped pretty high up I still hurt myself trying to wrap my hand around one of those things. My LTD EC, though, with its nice 42mm wide C-shaped neck, fits perfectly in my hand. I'm even playing slung down at Punk Rocker height and it feels fine.

    Sadly, though, this means I'm using my seven string a lot less, but as time has gone by, I've begun to truly appreciate what can be done with a measly six... not to mention, for a gearhead like myself, there's a LOT more options for parts available than there exist for any ERG. But, I can still use it sparingly for a song or two without hurting myself.

    Bottom line, you need to find something that feels comfortable in your hand. Maybe you're like me and need something smaller, or maybe you just need a chunkier neck that you can wrap your hand around instead of a flat plank... or maybe a flat plank is exactly what you need and you just don't have one yet! Experiment a little with different guitars. Do some research into what widths, profiles and scale lengths tend to feel best to you, and go from there.

    Hopefully that helps.
  2. will_shred

    will_shred Wannabe audio engineer

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    Sep 18, 2012
    Rochester NY
    little update my dudes, the problem pretty much didn't change until i actually injured my hand from playing an acoustic with too high action. After that I took two weeks off playing more or less entirely, after I started to get some motion back in my left hand I scheduled an acupuncture appointment. And so far that's the only thing that's had a pronounced effect on the pain, I still take neproxin sodium every day, and that plus the weekly acupuncture has really helped. My therapist said I should only need one more appointment before I can stop going weekly. After that I think i'm going to go on an as needed basis.

    If anyone is in my position, acupuncture is worth a shot. It seems to have helped me. But its to work in conjunction with sensible practice routines, you still need to give your hands time to heal.
  3. Nicki

    Nicki Regular

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    May 27, 2012
    Toronto, ON
    I'm no doctor, but I believe Thrashman hit the nail on the head. Repetative Strain Injury. I get it too but only because I constantly do big stretchy scales.

    It could be that the scale length of your guitar is too long which is making you stretch your hand further than what it's capable of doing. You should try a drastically smaller scale like something on a EBMM/Sterling. You should also take more frequent rests. Play a passage or two, rest for 3 to 5 minutes, repeat. It's like weightlifting. You tire out the muscles and perform worse if you don't rest in between sets ;)

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