Taking time off for injury

Anyone ever have to take extended break from playing due to injury? Been having some wrist pain in picking hand, likely tendonitis or some RSI. Its not super painful but definitely sore and my picking feels weaker. Took 2 weeks off but when I came back still felt off. Planning to take the next 3 months off completely to let it heal which is frustrating but probably best to let these things recover completely.

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Hi Jak,

Please make sure you talk to your GP to confirm whatever injury you may have. By letting it fix itself you might be doing yourself a disservice.

Guitar-wise, take it easy while you follow the right therapy to recover.

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Several questions:

Where does it hurt? Can you post a picture, maybe pointing to the area with the other hand?

What is your preferred picking motion?

I had RSI/tendonitis symptoms for 10 years. I did physical therapy, wrist splints, doctors visits, the whole 9. In retrospect, I was stringhopping with every single pickstroke. My whole mechanism was functioning inefficiently, giving my RSI type symptoms. You can’t rest inefficient technique. Physical therapy doesnt help. Basically, since I switched to a DSX deviation type picking motion, I’ve had no injuries, or symptoms of injuries returning. Because my picking now truly alternates (one side rests while the other works) I am able to play without injury.

I’ve also spent a lot of time making sure it feels like nothing when I play. I used to squeeze the pick too hard, giving me a painful symptom in my thumb tendon. I though I had de quervains tendinosis, but my grip was just too tight.

Point is, if your body is moving efficiently, you (probably) won’t get hurt. Most people don’t use the CTC knowledge to get out of injury, but I have with great success. Before taking a long break that may or may not help, let us take a look!

I hadn’t thought about it, but this is an important point. I’m about 95% sure that some chronic issues with one of my wrists are related to a ligament injury I suffered playing football as a teen that should have been surgically repaired when the injury was fresh (GP prescribed only ice, rest and temporary taping support).

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I’ve had wrist RSI for 15 years due to string hopping . I think its tendonitis of the extensor digitorum tendons and extensor indices tendon, but have never gotten an accurate diagnosis. I have rheumatoid arthritis too, which makes it more complicated. Sold my guitars last year because I can’t play without pain anymore.

You could try 3 months of rest, but if it is tendonitis, it will need to be strengthened at some point with loaded exercise to recover completely. Tendons typically don’t heal with rest alone.

You are going to want to see an ortho doc who specializes in hands/wrists; GPs are pretty much useless for these problems.


I’ve been going through something similar for the past 2 years or so. Basically I upped my string guage to 10 from 9s and played way too much. I’ve got pain in both my arms, hands and fingers. It got worse and even clicking a mouse and typing caused pain. I’ve tried everything and I think proper rest is the only thing that will help.
A GP will generally tell you to take a pain killer and rest. Physio never worked well for me, the stretching aggravated it.
I’m currently resting and using a massage gun twice a day followed by some light stretching, it seems to be getting better now after 7 days of doing very little.
I’m actually having surgery soon as in addition to my tendon issues I’ve got a lump on my index finger tendon which is from a previous guitar related injury and having that removed and the A1 pulley released.

Honestly I’d just try pure rest, no computer use, no games or anything where you are using your fingers, generally speaking things should show an improvement in 2 weeks.

I had the brilliant idea last year to go from playing 2-3 hours 4 times a week to 6-7 hours a day every day. After two months of this while lifting weights 6 days a week, my body told me to take a break. I took 3 months off, during which I consulted a physiotherapist who specializes in treating musicians. I learned effective massages/stretches, when to do hot/cold therapy and warmup arm/hand/wrist exercices.

I’ve re-started playing since 7 months (gradually at first) and with the massage/etc. regimen given by my physio, I’m back 99% and play 4-5 days a week, 3-4 hours per practice. Timing rest periods during practice and off days helped me a lot.

What helped me during the time off was to view it as an opportunity to brush up on some theory. Hang in there man !

Consult a specialist to diagnose your problem and treat it.

I am a physical medicine & rehabiliation physician who often treats overuse injuries and i have to say this post has all my thoughts already expressed.

Super late to this but I had ulnar tunnel syndrome and took 10 years off playing to let it heal, I’m not sure how long it really took but it was at least a couple of years. That was the result of overplaying, tensing up and using bad technique as well as burning the candle at both ends.

This year I found this place through Troy’s youtube channel. I began to play again and I fell into old habits and hurt myself again (this time my pinky on my left hand, and my left shoulder tricep tendon) and I had to take a couple of weeks off of playing, and then 3 more weeks of not using my pinky at all for it to heal up. I spent that off time researching how to play correctly, and another month after that now retraining myself to relax while I play and it’s worked wonders and I’m no longer experiencing fatigue or pain.

So yeah, listen to your body, and don’t push too hard. If you hurt yourself, figure out what you are doing wrong, and see a proper specialist.

I think this subject really needs more attention and proper technique needs to be taught so people stop hurting themselves.

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I’ve never had to take time off due to guitar overuse, BUT, I have had to take long stretches due to being in the military for different periods of time (2 weeks, 3 months, a year…). Also, I have had a few finger / elbow / shoulder injuries from climbing, which meant I couldn’t play or not at the level I’m used to.

Possibly purchase a trackball. I have ongoing (likely carpal tunnel) issues related to computer use from work, and have reduced inflammation/incidents using a trackball for my personal desktop. I hope to eventually, with practice/confidence use one for work.

I went with the Kensington Orbit with ScrollWheel (blue trackball) for starters. I have to use it without the wristpad, otherwise I can feel some possible tendonitis issues and pain in my lower forearm the day after.

If any of you found a doctor who helped on your road to recovery, I’d love to know what kind exactly. My son started playing recently, loved it and was really progressing… then came the wrist pain.

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Not sure if it’s still an issue (to anyone), but I’m very much a believer in trigger points (knots in the muscle). I have this book, but there are free resources online as well.


Here’s one of the most recent (and frequent) areas that I get issues with (regarding wrist pain):


Basically I just find the painful spot near the X’s, press down until I don’t feel the muscle spasm anymore.

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This could be a big help to me. Thanks

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