Guitar pain

Guitar pain

Hello everyone,

I apologize for likely re-starting a topic that’s been discussed many times before, but my few searches didn’t yield much, perhaps for bad wording.

Now… I’ve been dealing with a pain in my right arm for awhile now, not sure when it started but I’ve noticed that it’s been getting more persistent when I play guitar, and it’s getting to be harder to ignore.

I think I can safely assume that it’s as a result of how I play guitar… The pain is right at the elbow joint, and gets worst when playing polkas….

Any of you doctor types, or people who know about this stuff please hit me with any info you have about this issue…

Also, please note that I also work at a well-known ice cream store down here, and all that scooping might affect it.

Thanks!

-J

Re: Guitar pain

I’m not a doctor, but I have seen several episodes of House, MD.

All that scooping is bound to affect it. The first Rx is always rest. Ice, two or three time a day, would probably help. Can you scoop left handed?

Re: Guitar pain

I could try to scoop left-handed, though it may result in a few unhappy customers for the first month depending how much ends up on the floor or on them….

The thing I can’t remember is if I was dealing with this before I started working there or not, though.

Re: Guitar pain

It’s almost certainly the result of tension. Try searching discussions specifically addressing fiddle players’ tension and the effects it has on their playing. There are some excellent techniques to help minimise the bad effects it has on one’s playing, and I’m sure most fo them have been written up here in response to fiddle players and their many issues…

Re: Guitar pain

Maybe take some mini-breaks while practicing. Drop your
arm down and let it swing loose from your shoulder for a few
seconds, then resume playing. Do it every five minutes or so.
I seem to remember John Entwhistle of the Who taking that to
the extreme - bet he never had that problem

Re: Guitar pain

repetitive strain pain at the elbow joint is where the tendon from your wrist joins the elbow area. The cause would probably be at the wrist and the pain exhibits at the other end of the tendon.
Try to keep your wrist straight, flexing it repeatedly like that especially with load-bearing work is causing it to take all the strain. I would see a Bowen therapist with that sort of thing, they have a direct therapy for that. Hold your arm a cm or so just below your elbow joint placing your index finger at the back of your elbow and gently press it across the front of your forearm just below the elbow joint. It is those tendons there that are the problem.

Re: Guitar pain

your ice-cream employer actually should have an occupational health and safety procedure in place for that sort of work to prevent that sort of thing I would have thought.

Re: Guitar pain

Regardless of specific injury, the rule-of-thumb if experiencing pain whilst playing is to stop playing.

Re: Guitar pain

Yeah, but what’s the rule-of-elbow, Rick?

Re: Guitar pain

There are a number of threads you can search out here at the Mustard dealing with finger/hand/wrist issues and where to get help or advice.

Most of them will at least mention the uncomfortable, miserable, unreasonable demand that the sufferer take a break from whatever is hurting them (Outrageous!!). They are then advised to begin again, this time without the bad habits or techniques, or adding therapies that will minimize the wear and tear on their limbs (Ridiculous!!).

Quacks, all of them, unquestionably.

Good luck.

Posted by .

Re: Guitar pain

It could just be improper technique.
Try holding the guitar a little differently, loosening your grip on the pick, changing playing angles and whatnot.
It might not help, but couldn’t hurt much worse.

Re: Guitar pain

Also, check you spine/neck position. I have a bad disk in my neck and the pain is in my forearm when it flares up.

Re: Guitar pain

On the plus side, at least it’s not someone else’s guitar playing that’s causing your pain, so we won’t be having THAT discussion again here.

Re: Guitar pain

Could be tennis elbow. I had it for a while, caused by frantic mandolin playing aggravated by gardening. I played more fiddle and less mandolin, put lots of diclofenac gel on it, and it went away, but it took about 3 months. It’s OK now touch wood.

Re: Guitar pain

If the pain is sharp and acute at the upper spur of your elbow joint when you press on it, radiating down the outside of your forearm, tennis elbow could well be the problem. I’ve suffered from this several times. It could take 18 months to go if you do nothing about it. Carrying on playing probably won’t make it worse but it’ll hurt. See the doc. He/she may recommend physio, but this was a waste of time for me. A bit more drastic but an almost instant cure is a cortisone injection into the joint. As I said, see the doc. Pain in the lower spur of your elbow joint could be golfer’s elbow. Similar considerations. Again, see the doc!

Re: Guitar pain

You don’t give a lot of information.

How do you hold your guitar? Is the neck near you or away from you?

Where do you place your right hand? On the bridge? Above the strings? Above the strings, but with your pinky resting on the guitar?

Do you flat pick, play finger style or what?

I assume you are sitting, but thought I should inquire anyway.

I play 4 or 5 times a week plus practice time, and do not experience any pain other than my age.

And finally, what level of fitness are you. Are you in good shape? Do you exercise? etc. The answers to these questions and assumptions would provide some clue as to what the problem might be. You’ve gotten good advise from the board, but I’d like to dig a little deeper.

Re: Guitar pain

If the pain only comes when you’re playing you could blame your technique, but if it’s there in between times too…see the doc! You can be helped. Someone mentioned those anti-inflammatory gels in tubes. Send me an sae and I’ll post you mine. They’re a bloody waste of time.

Re: Guitar pain

To the OP:

For what it’s worth, here’s what I have done to relieve stress in my right arm.

I have played guitar (and other instruments) in dance bands for over 30 years.
There is plenty of stress in the right hand, wrist, arm of a right handed guitar player, mainly due to repetitive motion and pick holding.

Simply, in order to relieve stress on my pick holding hand, I use a cake of inexpensive violin rosin, rub my index (pick) finger into the rosin until it powders, rub my fingers together, then rub the rosin into my pick (usually a red Dunlop Tortex).

This relieves the tension in my right hand, elbow, and arm, as I’m not concentrating on holding the pick or concerned if it’s moving, shifting, as I’m playing.

The only issue with this technique is when I pick up a flute or whistle, my right index finger is sticky (but, over time I’ve come to see that as an advantage to my "highly" ornamented style)

Also - try to get used to ambidextrous scooping. It’ll be good for your guitar playing.

Re: Guitar pain

You may not find this helpful, but here is how I dealt with polka accompaniment. I never enjoyed accompanying polkas because they move so fast. But the melodies are very simple, so I learned to play them on my whistle and haven’t accompanied one in years.

Re: Guitar pain

Showing my ignorance about strumming ~ why not cut the strumming in half?

Posted by .

Re: Guitar pain

sounds like golfers elbow. There are several threads here with links to explain it and physical therapy sites with stretching and strengthening exercises. Use the search function

i have been wreslting on and off with it for a couple of months.

Re: Guitar pain

I got a lot of shoulder pain as a cub guitar player till I down-sized from a dreadnought to a OO-size guitar, elevated the neck, used a comma-shaped guitar support, and learned to relax and minimize the movements.

Jaime Andreas has a book that might help.
http://guitarprincples.com

Having pretty much blown out my right shoulder in college playing softball, I have to pay a lot more attention than most to this unwelcome side-effect of guitar playing.