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Old 09-26-2023, 09:18 PM
para_adams para_adams is offline
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Default Early 60's with persistent left hand pain

I'm looking for things that have help other older guitar players who've dealt with persistent pain or soreness in their left (fretting) hand.

Early 60's, playing 3-4 times/week for 20-30 minutes, plus one 3+ hour jam every couple weeks. I'm loving my current level of play and am making strides in my skill level after 49 years of off/on play, and I love my guitars now. So I'm very happy playing and want to keep it up.

Unfortunately, ibuprofen is not my answer...My cardiologist says I can't take it.

Are there exercises, stretches, supplements, other things that would likely help?

Thanks
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Old 09-26-2023, 11:02 PM
Ryan51 Ryan51 is offline
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Assuming the pain is caused by inflammation try Earthing. This is basically spending time barefoot while in direct contact with grass, soil, sand, rock, or gravel. Studies over the last 20 years have found that being in direct contact with the ground quickly reduces inflammation in many areas of the body. I have been doing this nearly every day for the last month or so. It seems to be relieving knee pain I have had for years. My left thumb has been swollen for a few years and now seems to be getting better so maybe I'll once again be able to play bass notes with my thumb. Earthing (or Grounding) is simple and doesn't cost anything so it is at least worth a try. You might try vigorously rubbing your hand on the grass to target the problem area directly. For more info look up Earthing and The Earthing Movie.
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Old 09-27-2023, 04:30 AM
RomanS RomanS is offline
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What kind of pain do you experience, and what kind of guitar do you play?

I'm quite a bit younger than you (early 50s), but I've been diagnosed with arthritis (seems to run in the family), and if I play for a long time (I try to get in at least one hour of practice per day, and my band often plays 3 one hour sets per gig) - on guitars with the wrong neck profile (too thin, requiring extra pressure from the left hand thumb; the Martin modified low oval profile seems to be the worst for me), the base joint of my thumb will start to hurt, and eventually cramp up.
What helped for me was switching to really thick necks that nicely fill the palm, so that very little counter pressure from the thumb is required when fretting strings (I have to mention I never ever use my thumb for fretting the low E).
With nice, full, round necks (just form a fretting hand shape with your left hand, and look at the void between the thumb and palm - imagine that void solid, and you've got the ideal neck shape), I can play for hours before feeling any joint pain (my fingertips will go sore before that).
I switched all my Telecasters over to 1" thick "baseball bat" necks, those are the most comfortable; unfortunately, with acoustic guitars, unless you're going custom shop, most contemporary offerings have either thin or super-thin necks (Martin and Taylor being the worst offenders), I managed to find an Eastman with a neck that's at least .93" at the first fret, that's OK, though thicker would be better; makes playing much more painless.

Of course everyone's hands are different - but I've heard similar stories from quite a few people! So, if you play a guitar with a very thin neck (.85" or less at the 1st fret), try to find something with a chunkier neck to see whether that alleviates your problem.
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Old 09-27-2023, 06:17 AM
Jamolay Jamolay is offline
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I would also consider how you hold the guitar. I found the standard guitar waist over the right thigh sitting very stressful for my shoulder and wrist and wound up finding a different playing position that works for me. Turns out to be pretty much a classical position, with shorter neck guitars (12 fret,ss).

I would suggest, with an assistant, play around with positioning the guitar to such a place you still can comfortably play it and there is the least stress on your left hand. Then find a way to keep it there, a strap or lift, whatever. Compromises will need to be made, but if you donít resolve this issue, your playing days may be limited.
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Old 09-27-2023, 06:24 AM
T.Lime T.Lime is offline
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Hi.. I am in the same same age range as yourself... I had the same thing... turnded out to be mild erosdion of the wrist bone, ,affecting my whole hand,, it is a bit like arthritis... Methotrxate was the answer,, had an immedeiate effect, ,took first pill s in the morning, wand was good within a couple of days... BUT you do have to keep taking it, and folic acid alongside.. ask your doc for info
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Old 09-27-2023, 07:04 AM
slooky slooky is offline
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Go see a physio-therapist. Worth every penny! A physio-therapist will give you exercises and stretching based on your pain. Ice helps too.
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Old 09-27-2023, 08:18 AM
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Where is the pain at?
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Old 09-27-2023, 08:49 AM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
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I also found neck shape has become very important as I've gotten older (I'm 66) Don't like think necks because it puts my hand in an over-closed position. Don't like much shoulder it hurts at the base of the thumb. Mt favorite and most comfortable shape is the shallow v.
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Old 09-27-2023, 09:02 AM
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My story is informational is all. Several years ago, I had a fall where I slapped my hand on the ground and broke it. I went to the doctor, and they didn't really do anything but monitored my healing. My ring finger does not ride where it used to now. I have never had strong hands and my guitar playing issues sound like how you described your guitar playing and hand issues. Three months ago, my fretting hand swelled up, painfully, and some of my fingers went numb. I am scheduled for Carpal Tunnel surgery in November. Oh, and our health care system is broken.
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Old 09-27-2023, 09:11 AM
para_adams para_adams is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SFCRetired View Post
Where is the pain at?
It is deep in the joint from the base of the thumb to the middle wrist.
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Old 09-27-2023, 09:12 AM
6L6 6L6 is offline
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I'm 77 years old.

Back in 1985 I had left hand pain so bad I couldn't even swing a golf club (my favorite sport). A surgeon thought it was a muscle issue he could fix...

The doc opened up my hand, took one look, and closed me back up. He told me I had major arthritis and there was nothing he could do about that other than give me a cortisone shot. Tried that but it only lasted a couple of days. Long term use of cortisone is not recommended.

As for ibuprofen, be careful. Too much use of it can damage your liver.

The night after the surgery I got my latest issue of GOLF DIGEST magazine. A feature article covered Sam Snead's dealing with arthritis while still in his 20's. It was so bad he thought he'd have to quit playing.

His solution? SPRING GRIPS! He got weak grips and slowly worked up to strong ones. Not only did it make his hands so strong that it no longer hurt to play golf, he said he put 20 to 30yds onto his drives.

I went to my local sports store and bought some weak grips. I could feel my hands getting stronger. Worked my way over the years to strong grips. To this day I do 50 reps/day, twice/day.

I've never had another problem. In short, I got my hands so strong that swinging a golf club, skiing, or playing a guitar gave me zero pain. It sure worked for me and it might work for you too. Just remember to start out SLOWLY and build up from there.


Last edited by 6L6; 09-27-2023 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 09-27-2023, 09:25 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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When I started having problems with pain in my fretting hand, this is what helped me:
- I stopped playing
- Found a physical (or physio) therapist that specialized in hand issues and got some specific exercises
- Adjusted my posture and how I was holding the guitar. Learned how to engage the larger arm and shoulder muscles while relaxing my hand
- Decided to have the necks of my two guitars shaved down a bit
- Did an inventory of all of the other things that I was using my hands for and quit golfing

I didnít play the guitar for 5 months while my hand improved and pain completely subsided. This was about 8 years ago and I have had no problems since. Our problem might not be the same but I think some of what I ended up doing might help you.
Best of luck!
Jayne
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Old 09-27-2023, 09:38 AM
Annie B Annie B is offline
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[The pain] is deep in the joint from the base of the thumb to the middle wrist." Yeah, sounds like you have arthritis in your CMC, or basal thumb, joint, between the wrist and thumb. Very, very common. I have it in both hands. The first thing is to get a cortisone shot, which I've been getting for a couple of years. Alleviates pain for a good 4 months of regular playing. (Insurance pays for it.) The next step is surgery, which I'm getting this year for both hands. I could continue with the shots but at 70, I want my hand to be stronger than it will be in 2-5 years, for a faster recovery time. My doc says I won't be able to play the guitar for about 8 weeks after each operation. So, fortunately, there are solutions and one of them is permanent. Good luck.
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Old 09-27-2023, 09:56 AM
DaveWilliam DaveWilliam is offline
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I started having left hand pain about 6 months after I started playing. I am retired now, and I played quite a bit when I was in my 20's. I tried resting it for a week, I tried ibuprofen and doing stretches. Didn't go away, so I made an appointment with a hand doctor. 2 cortisone shots, 6 weeks apart got rid of the pain completely. I was told if the second shot didn't work I would need a small surgery.
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Old 09-27-2023, 10:32 AM
Matthew Sarad Matthew Sarad is offline
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Pain in.my left hand index finger was the reason I sold my Lowden.The wide flat neck exacerbated the pain.
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