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I really need your help and opinion. I've been playing guitar for about two years now. I started in high school, and now I'm in colledge, and because of that I dont have that much time to practice, but despite that, I made some decent progress in my playing.

Recently, I had some trouble with my back and neck, probably because of bad posture while studying for hours. The pain still bothers me, but I don't have the time to go to the doctor because of my exams. I've noticed that my hands hurt also, and feel stiff. This goes on for about a month. I've felt sharp pain in my palm, and elbow of my left hand. My forearm muscles tend to burn and get tired fast, so I can't play for long, or too fast.

Today I've played some heavier stuff and I'm feeling a mild pain in my finger joints while moving. I've also experienced sharp pain going from my elbow to my pinky and ring finger, mostly at night before sleep. I did my blood tests and it came back negative on AST-O and rheumatoid factors. I also feel pain in my wrists, and probably my tendons when it's possible to locate it precisely. All in all, my arms and hands are messing with me.

I was wondering, is it possible that it's all because of my screwed up back? I'm really scared that it may ruin my playing, and that's a big part of my life. I'm sure you are in love with your instruments too.. Thanks for your help, and sorry for the long text. Greetings from Europe.

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    I don't know the answer but I feel for you - but seriously: See a doctor!! This is your health you're talking about, and although it might not seem so at the moment, that's much more important than your exams. I know you can get pain in all sorts of weird places when your nerves are messed up, and back pain may be a factor in that, but I'm no doc. It may be other things though - eg. I get a weird cramp in my hands if I'm dehydrated when playing, so I have to watch that. I really hope it works out for you. Once again: See a doctor! – user2808054 Jan 7 '15 at 14:14
  • Forgive me, but I'm going to add that as an answer – user2808054 Jan 7 '15 at 15:05
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    You say you don’t have time to see a doctor. Rethink that, because random people on the internet really aren’t qualified to give a diagnosis. And from personal experience, getting a problem checked out early can save months of therapy (or worse) if you wait until it’s really bad. – Karen Jan 7 '15 at 18:22
  • If you don't get enough magnesium in your diet, you might try supplements. Low magnesium can lead to inflammation and joint disorders. Worth a try if you don't plan to see a doctor or chiropractor. – Rockin Cowboy Jan 17 '15 at 0:00
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1. Stop Playing

2. Go to the Doctor

Seriously, your health is more important than your studies and your playing. Why potentially damage a half century of playing guitar and your career to save a few hours?

What you describe doesn't sound trivial to me and could be indicative of something more serious that could affect all areas of your life, not just your guitar playing. It might just be something a physiotherapist could sort out with posture or it could be any number of things, every time you play you might conceivably be doing more damage.

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I don't know the answer but I feel for you - but seriously: See a doctor!! This is your health you're talking about, and although it might not seem so at the moment, that's much more important than your exams. I know you can get pain in all sorts of weird places when your nerves are messed up, and back pain may be a factor in that, but I'm no doc. It may be other things though - eg. I get a weird cramp in my hands if I'm dehydrated when playing, so I have to watch that. I really hope it works out for you. Once again: See a doctor!

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. – MrTheBard Jan 7 '15 at 18:22
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    The question - are the pains in his extremities caused by his back troubles - calls for a medical opinion. So I believe advising Bosnian to consult a physician is appropriate. I sincerely appreciate the discipline that you mods bring to this site and support it 100%, but I am sure you share everyone's compassion for the suffering musician. Things we do for love. – memphisslim Jan 8 '15 at 0:06
  • @MrTheBard "I know you can get pain in all sorts of weird places when your nerves are messed up, and back pain may be a factor in that" alludes to the question "I was wondering, is it possible that it's all because of my screwed up back?". Meanwhile, the answer to the question isn't the most sensible answer. The most sensible answer is "see a doctor." – user2808054 Jan 8 '15 at 9:59
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    memphis - empty and bard are not mods, just members of the community like any other. (you can spot mods by the blue diamonds) Flagging as Not an Answer is a perfectly reasonable privilege the community has when they feel it doesn't answer the question. In this instance, I think that while it doesn't actually answer the question, it is still the correct guidance, same as Mr Boy's answer. – Doktor Mayhem Jan 8 '15 at 10:49
  • Related discussion: meta.music.stackexchange.com/a/2053/104 – Doktor Mayhem Jan 8 '15 at 11:15
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I'm not a medical doctor, but I am a middle-aged guy who's played both keyboard and guitar for years, and I have found that shoulder and back issues definitely affect the way my hands and forearms feel, to the point that whenever my fingers tingle or my forearms ache, I reflexively think about keeping the shoulders back and low and making sure my posture is correct.

If you think about it, all the nerves that transmit sensations from the fingers, wrists, forearms, etc. have to pass through the shoulder girdle and along the collarbone up to the spine before getting to your brain. So, if you are holding your shoulder or back in such a way as to pinch some of those nerves (so easy to do), you can lose sensation, function, etc.

I agree that seeing a doctor is a good idea. A chiropractic appointment might be an easier temporary fix; sometimes manipulation of the shoulder, back, and neck can free up nerves and have a radical effect!

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