Not the usual kind of finger pain

For at least the last 8 years I’ve been having a lot of pain on the side of my fretting index finger, specifically the largest segment (don’t know what it’s called) from the knuckle down to where it attaches to the palm. It feels very tender when it presses against the neck.

I know that it’s related to some type of tendinitis, but it’s really not the usual joint pain that comes with flexing, bending, repetitive actions etc.
The majority of the pain comes just from the pressure against the neck. My fattest Les Paul neck with rolled edges is slightly more comfortable but it’s more the overall pressure that bothers me than it is just the corner of the fretboard.

I was just wondering if anyone else has this issue, and also if there’s any kind of “proper technique” etiquette that involves minimizing palm/hand contact in favor of more fingertip contact?

Is it something that goes away with rest if you don’t play for a while? Or if you play leads and lay off the barre chords?

No, I’ve taken a couple weeks off and then had the pain return as soon as I play again… And I’ve also played 5 shows in a week and NOT had it happen at all.
It really only hurts badly when I’m playing guitar…I mean it frequently aches a little bit but the sharp pain only comes when I’m gripping the neck, and as soon as I stop I’m fine. So I guess I could describe it as an extreme sensitivity to pressure in that part of my hand. I can usually avoid a problem if I’m extremely gentle with my fretting hand, but that’s not how I normally play so if I’m trying to deliver a good performance there’s a good chance it’s gonna start to hurt, and once it starts I’m pretty much screwed for a few hours at least. Every day seems to be a fresh start though.
Playing leads, where I’m just on my fingertips, tends to be less problematic. But also a full bar chord is usually ok too because my whole finger is straight . It’s more like the partial bar chord, with some twisting, or wide vibrato (with my index finger), that cause the most trouble.
I’m sure I probably brought this on with years of gripping the neck way too hard; my technique is better these days and hopefully will continue to improve but I’m not sure whether I will ever be able to undo whatever damage I’ve done.

I once had an extremely prominent pain in part of my finger that was triggered by the lightest of pressures and it turned out I had a tiny splinter of metal in there that must have flown off a grinder or something, obviously this might not be a possibility for you.

Actually now I type this out I remember another time when I had a similar sensation right at a finger tip and there was only the tiniest visible speck but it turned out I had about half a centimetre of a rose thorn embedded all the way in there.

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Ugh. I get those constantly as well!

See a hand specialist?

Do really light gauge strings help?

Actually, see an Alexander Technique person to debug your grip on the neck?

Have you or anyone else here ever tried Alexander Technique for guitar stuff?
I thought it sounded like a good idea and I actually started with that in 2020 for this exact reason, but I only went a couple times and then Covid happened and derailed the whole thing. Never got around to going back…and I had prepaid for a bunch of sessions (of course) but now it’s probably too late to claim them and I just feel kinda stupid about it.

Call them up and go! I’m sure they’d love you as a regular client and will respect your prepayment.

Not specifically for guitar. I developed chronic tendinitis/tendinosis in both wrists while typing up my thesis as a graduate student. I read several books on the Alexander Technique and took a couple of lessons.

I found it helpful, and I’ve since applied the principles in my guitar playing. I do 20-30 minutes of constructive rest every night before sleep.

I do like the idea, but it’s my understanding that they recommend like 20 sessions to start. And reading several books…hmmm….I’d feel better about 20-30 minutes of practicing guitar every night before sleep.

I know, I know…how badly do you want to heal lol ?

I only took a handful of lessons, I don’t remember the exact number but not more than five. I have read at least three books on the method by different authors.

The 20-30 minutes of constructive rest involves me lying almost totally still in my bed, in a semi-supine position. I repeat some of the Alexander directions and some anchor words associated with parasympathetic nervous response in my mind. I focus my attention progressively from my head to my feet, and then I let my attention wander. I focus on whatever part of my body calls for my attention. This is enough to create local twitch response in muscles (as you might experience from deep tissue massage or dry needling).

If I don’t do it I spend as much time or longer “trying” to go to sleep. This isn’t time that I can spend playing guitar. If I do constructive rest, I fall asleep immediately and my sleep is much better.

In my experience, The Alexander Technique is very much about developing proprioception (sense of position). I’ve read up on the Feldenkrais Method too (though I never took a class), that’s largely focused on developing kinaesthesia (sense of movement). I’ve learned a lot about how to use my body by applying the principles of both.