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I have some carpal tunnel evidenced by a perpetually swollen left ring finger and some hand numbness. I just bought a guitar and I have trouble positioning the ring finger on the first string on a G chord. It's because my ring finger won't bend enough. I can work around this but I'm wondering if guitar playing will exacerbate my hand conditions. Thoughts?

  • Sounds like you need to find a good teacher - if only for a couple of lessons. – Tim Dec 10 '19 at 15:57
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    I'd see a doctor. Having had both wrists operated on for CT, your 'swollen finger' symptom bears no resemblance to any symptoms I ever had. BTW, if it is carpal tunnel, the longer you put off the op, the worse your hands will be afterwards. You never get back all motor function. afaik, nothing you do will exacerbate it, though it will never get any better on its own, only ever worse; by the time it gets really bad you simply won't be able to play for more than 5 minutes before your hands stop responding to your will. – Tetsujin Dec 10 '19 at 16:53
  • Until you solve the issue of your swollen ring finger you might try playing the first position G chord the way I like to play it as mentioned here (music.stackexchange.com/q/28817/16897). Other alternate methods of playing the G that don't require you to bend the ring finger so much are shown here (music.stackexchange.com/a/31061/16897) – Rockin Cowboy Dec 10 '19 at 19:15
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it is possible that using it will exacerbate the problem. I'm not a medical expert so I cannot tell you exactly about anything. My best suggestion is to go talk to a doctor about it, they can both help you with the medical problem and at the same time you can ask them if it is safe for you to be playing guitar.

That set aside, generally if using something that is injured is hurting it more it might be doing damage, and you should maybe work it a little less. So if you are doing it and it's not causing extra pain it is probably fine, but if you're at all unsure see a medical expert who can give you a professional opinion.

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I would say the opposite. Heavy computer use is bad for a guitarist, I am such a guitarist. I have answered other questions about this topic, but from a different perspective. If you already have the CTS you need to see a doctor and get treatment. I wear a wrist brace when working on the computer and that has helped tremendously. You can also do physical therapy and there's surgery for correcting the issue.

In my personal experience I find that guitar playing is therapeutic and helps reduce the effects of CTS. However I play with near perfect hand posture form decades of private lessons in modern and classical guitar. If you just pick up a guitar and play Jimmy Page style (wrist bent in with thumb over the edge of the finger board) you will definitely make is worse of develop a new set of disorders. Many musicians suffer from micro trauma injuries but in my experience this is usually due to poor posture and bad technique. This is probably what led to your CTS. If you are typing with the correct hand posture in theory it shouldn't happen.

So my advice, after seeing a doctor, is take lessons and learn proper technique and posture. It pays!

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  • RSI &/or Tendonitis is not CTS. Each may give symptoms similar to the others, but they are not the same thing. Your description doesn't sound like CTS. CTS can be measured quite accurately, electronically. RSI & tendonitis can't. – Tetsujin Dec 11 '19 at 16:14
  • I never said they were the same thing. And in my case I have had an emg so I know its cts. I was describing other things that can happen with poor hand posture. – ggcg Dec 11 '19 at 16:27
  • OK, cool Thanks for clarifying. I'm just always worried if someone gets the two mixed up without a doctor's opinion… as one needs rest, the other needs an operation. – Tetsujin Dec 11 '19 at 16:29
  • Still not true. Been (and still am) a programmer for 25 years. Never hurt my ability to play guitar. Nor did it bring upon any impairments. "Doing X hurts Y" is to simple a causal relationship in this case. I have arthritis in my top pinky joint. Didn't come from computers, didn't come from bad technique, didn't come from over use. All three? Possibly. The symptoms between CTS, arthritis, and any other joint / muscle / ligament disease are extremely similar. Only a proper and qualified diagnosis can tell. – Willem van Rumpt Dec 11 '19 at 17:27
  • What part of any of this us not true? Give an example. – ggcg Dec 11 '19 at 17:30

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