Fingerpicking doesn’t rely on elbow movement. Maybe try that for a while?
Been struggling with my left elbow for a year or more but gradually getting better and no longer preventing me from playing daily. So there is hope.
Took a month off from playing that helped some.
Pain, swelling of forearm muscles and stiffness were my symptoms and quite possible different from your injury being on the opposite side.
Used hot/cold and massage to get the muscle swelling down.
Got it checked out finally now that the virus has abated here .
Doc put me though some lower arm strength tests such as gripping and twisting left/right up/down kind of thing.
He wasn’t too alarmed about anything but
gave me an elbow compression sleeve and some topical cream for the pain.
Joint issues can be slow to heal , years in some cases but If you can get it checked out it might just speed up the process as well as give you some peace of mind.
Good luck with it.
Search Amazon for “tennis elbow strap”. you strap it on below the elbow as close to the joint as possible and pull it tight without being too uncomfortable, all day every day for about 6 weeks, and it will reduce your symptoms markedly, possibly even cure them. I was recommended to do this by my GP, and it worked. I noticed improvement as soon as I put it on, but it was probably about 12 weeks before I could do without it and be pain free
Tennis elbow is often a wrist, rather than an elbow problem, but could be either.
Look carefully at your right hand wrist and elbow ergonomics and try not to be twisting, over flexing or making excessive movements. Most importantly there should be no lateral flexion at the wrist, it should be pretty straight, perhaps just a touch flexed forward, but not much.
Good luck and speedy recovery!
The best advice I have is to not use your guitar as a tennis racket, or vice versa. Otherwise, if it hurts --rest it.
Had tennis elbow in both arms a few years ago. Wasn’t playing tennis, but was trying to play guitar at the time - barre chords, specifically.
Never saw a doctor, but did online research, and tried all the methods already mentioned above.
None of them worked long term for me. If I started playing again, my fretting hand elbow would start hurting again - often, the same day.
What did work was this book.
Basically, it’s self treatment by deep tissue massage with a hard rubber ball.
I noticed reduced pain within a few days, and complete recovery after about a month.
I eventually figured out that the problem was caused by one of the fingers I wasn’t using to fret the chords. I was lifting it up off the fretboard with way too much tension. The muscles that flex and extend the fingers are near the elbow, and can refer pain to the elbow if they are overstressed. I never would have figured this out without the book.
These days, whenever I have pain anywhere in my body, I dig out my book, do the massage, and almost always get some immediate pain reduction.
Self treatment is not for everyone. I’ve suggested this book to at least 10 people with pain issues, and only one or two of them actually tried it. But it worked for those who did.
Note that a lot of massage therapists can do trigger point therapy, so this might be an option if you don’t want to self treat.
Also note that most doctors don’t know anything about this…at least that was the case a few years ago.
I used to get tennis elbow a lot (almost every year) as a result of rock climbing.
I recommend the BandIT strap.
Don’t ignore it, it wont go away without rest or improved technique.
If you keep getting it there is something wrong with your technique.
It can also be a finger problem, as it was in my case. Many of the muscles that move the fingers are near the elbow.
Ice and compression sleeve. Rest as well but you may not want to stop playing for as long as it might take to completely heal. Also, sounds like it might be or become a recurring issue. If it were me, I would ice the elbow for 15-20 minutes before playing to reduce inflammation then wear a compression sleeve while playing. And maybe ice again after playing. If you’re not taking any supplements you might try something with glucosamine and chondroitin as those are supposed to help joint tissues.
too right @CT . Maybe I should take up air guitar instead! Thanks for the ideas and @woodroe glad to hear you are playing daily again, so yes that does give me hope.
Thanks for all the ideas for treatments - I’ll try one of two of those and see how it goes. Also it sounds like it is worth looking at my technique, once I get back to it, but I have learnt that you have to rest it until you are sure before playing again. I wish I could windmill like Pete Townsend! but yes minimal movement does sound sensible for a lot of reasons. I have seen Justin’s lesson on that.
The irony is I used to play lots of tennis and never got tennis elbow, but then I picked up the guitar…
Then is it really tennis elbow?
I can sell you some strings.
This is spot on. I am a doctor and everything I know about muscle function and manual therapies was NOT learned in my doctor training. I learned it in my previous career as a massage therapist.
Tennis (or guitar) elbow is a muscle tension problem that can often lead to a true tendonitis. Massage, trigger point therapy and gentle stretching along with rest and modification of the offending activity is how it is best handled.
If you are failing to recover, see your doctor anyway. The most valuable thing they can do (other than making sure no larger problem is occurring) is to send you to an occupational therapist.
Sound advice Jamolay IMO.
As to the jokers who are piping in here this wouldn’t be a laughing matter if it were you’re problem.
Been there and when it got bad enough a Cortisone shot helped quite a bit.The problem came back ,and Guitar is so difficult,and my personality is such that I would practice same thing for too long.Older now( waaay) and Iave learned to approach this it like any physical discipline…Find a warm up routine/excercise 10 15 minutes a day,for its own sake…I extend arms to sidearm do “Windmills” forwards and backward SLOW,start with 10 and increase.Then with arms still outstretched turn palms up 10 ,returning to original position, then opposite direction…I have unfortunately had much Physical Therapy due to multiple Surguries so I have become a real believer in this approaching,it’s working for me. Don’t underestimate the stress long practices put on your arms . Pace yourself and good luck. There are Physical Therapist who specialize in working with Musicians…
I wouldn’t call them jokers.
After all, they are just offering the same advice that most “real” doctors would. Also, I assume they tried these techniques, and that they worked…for them.
But they certainly don’t work for everybody.
And I agree that some of the attempts at humour fall pretty flat when your elbow hurts so much you can’t play your guitar.
Hey - I’m enjoying the humour despite the pain the Cream video took me back to teenager days in the bedroom with a tennis racket pretending to be (yes!) Clapton.
I also suffered from tennis elbow in my fretting hand that came on gradually and got progressively worse until it was really bad. I went to a physiotherapist who advised me to stop playing for a month and gave me exercises and stretches to work on. This helped but never solved the problem. The physiotherapist also told me that tennis elbow was fairly common for the guitarists and violinists that he saw.
I then noticed that I was getting some fret wear on my guitar and realised that I was using too much force when I fretted strings. From that time on I tried to reduce the pressure I applied to the strings so that I only used the minimum to get a clear note. I also tried to consciously reduce the tension in my hand and wrist.
As soon as I started to reduce the pressure when fretting strings my tennis elbow started to improve and within a relatively short time was completely gone. And this was after having tennis elbow for nearly a year.
I still do the wrist and finger stretches that the physiotherapist gave me but I have no tennis elbow problem now.
This might be another option for you to consider.
A good argument that overuse injuries are the result of improper body mechanics, rather than intrinsic to guitar playing.