Guitar & Osteoarthritis?

Hi all, I noticed some stiffness and discomfort in the pinky of my fret hand (especially when tapping or doing hammer-ons or pull-offs) around wintertime; I had only recently been able to play a lot after a long job search, so I figured it was disuse and kept going. Things didn’t get much better and recently have evolved to the point where even fretting period is painful. My doctor ordered an x-ray which showed osteoarthritis in several places in the hand (especially the tip of the pinky, surprise surprise).

I made an appointment with a hand specialist, whom I expect to maybe refer me to occupational therapy, but I’m wondering if anybody else has had experience with this?

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Sounds tough! Best of luck to you and hope the medical professionals are going to be able to help you!

Hoping I don’t have/get it - but I’ve had pinky stiffness when it’s cold. I sit with a space heater when practicing if it’s cold - also I’ve found that dropping to .08 gauge strings has been awesome for reducing tension. If nothing else it might take strain off of it.

I think what Tommo meant is that you should see a medical professional. Probably someone who either does musician medicine or sports medicine. Seeking medical advice online is not really a good idea.

That’s pretty much covered in the “I made an appointment with a hand specialist” of the original post, I’m looking to hear from other guitarists who have gone through this and what that experience was like, but it seems pretty scarce. I wonder if that’s how Mark St. John felt?

I’m hoping to not have to reduce from .010s, but there are worse things than having to go down a gauge, if that will help.

I’ve had to go down to 9.5s on my 25 1/2 scale guitar, as I’ve reached my late 40’s and I just don’t have the hand strength I used to. I still run 10’s on my 24 3/4 guitar, but I’d rather have 11’s on it. Alas I just can’t use big strings anymore, as I’d rather not have fatigue or pain.

I don’t think I can go lower in gauge, as I start to notice the lack of sustain and low end.