Guitar injury...?

This is probably one for a doctor really, but since getting an appointment in England is near impossible at the moment unless you’re half-dead, I thought I’d ask in case there are any physicians out there. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve been doing a lot of guitar recently. Not overdoing it per se, but certainly putting the hours in. For a couple of days I was focusing on scales, and trying to get them faster and faster. I woke up on the third day, stretched, and when I flexed my hand I felt and heard a “crunch” from a joint in my little (pinky) finger on my left hand, one up from the knuckle. Note that it is not the usual “crack” you get when clicking your joints… it’s a definite crunch.

Since then the same joint periodically “crunches” numerous times per day, usually after the finger has been relatively straight for a while, and I flex it. There’s no real pain with it, just a very, very mild soreness which is barely detectable. Flexing my finger doesn’t hurt at all, and neither does poking and prodding the joint itself. Movement is unrestricted, and I can press down with the finger no problem to play guitar or whatever. The crunch feels almost like something is getting crushed between the joint, of as if the joint is out of line and grinding back into position, but this doesn’t really explain why it doesn’t happen all the time. It’s been a few days now and I did take a break from guitar, but no change yet.

It’s kind of hard to explain, but there we go. Anyone got any ideas what’s going on? Or am I destined to wait months to get an NHS appointment?

Hi Goffik,

What do you mean when you say you flexed your hand? I guess the issue is with that motion rather than playing the guitar. Just think of classical players who practice scales several hours a day for years. They get through those practice sessions without injury. If your finger doesn’t get better in a few days, I think you should see a doctor as a precaution.

Also, try to focus on using the scales rather than getting them faster and faster for the sake of it. I’ve heard Justin mention that you should increase the tempo by 2-3 BPM only when you are really comfortable with the tempo you are at.

Hi Jozsef,

I probably should have said flexed my fingers. I flexed them all at once, from fists to open hands to fists again. I do it every morning.

The motion is simply moving my finger from straight to bent, so it’s nothing unusual. But guitar is the only thing I’ve really been doing that has worked that joint recently, so that’s why I think it may be the cause.

Haha, I’m not doing it for the sake of it, I’m doing it for a reason, as Justin teaches. :wink: I’m building precision and finger speed/dexterity, in preparation to start learning some rock/metal solos from my favourite songs. I got up to about 300bpm at once point. I was comfortable and didn’t feel like I was straining myself, which is why I was surprised at this apparent “injury” the next morning.

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I think I sprained a finger trying to imagine playing at 300 bpm.

Sounds like the old “trigger finger”, where the joint is a bit swollen, and clicks, or crunches. Happened to about 8 months ago. Mine was actually pretty sore for a couple of weeks on a few fingers. I’d been getting into some gruelling finger exercises and probably over did it. Was about to seek medical advice, but it just resolved one day and never came back.
Everyone’s case is different though. Best of luck with it.

Cheers, Shane

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Thanks Shane, that’s reassuring. This was the first time I’d put intensive effort into speed exercises, so perhaps I did overdo it without realising. I’ll give it a week and see if it sorts itself out. :+1:t2:

Is it a cornflake crunch or gearbox crunch? j/k

My hands and other joints click all the time. Not crunch though. What I’ve been told the general rule for acute injuries is back off, allow to heal and use gently for a while. Gentle stretches. Once an injury becomes chronic it’s much harder to get rid of.

Not major pain but mild soreness means there’s been some kind of injury.

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Haha, it’s definitely more akin to a cornflake crunch! :grin:

I’ve avoided all speed training and pretty much anything that requires that finger over the last couple of days, and there does seem to be improvement. The soreness has pretty much gone and the crunch is reduced. Looks like I might be all good by the weekend, hopefully. :crossed_fingers:t2:

So yeah, looks like I just overdid it. I know Justin promotes time boxing when working on technique, but sometimes my determination gets the better of me and I end up plugging away for hours. Lesson learnt!

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Seven weeks on and my finger is still “crunching”. I’m guessing it’s an inflamed tendon which is swollen and catching when moving, and is not healing because it’s in constant use. I had a similar issue in my shoulder some years ago, which took a long time to heal due to the impracticality of immobilising my entire arm. Immobilising one finger is a little easier though, so it’s time for a home-made splint.

Of course, it means no guitar for me for at least a couple of weeks. It’s only been three days and I’m missing it already… :sob:

Hi Ross, although I can’t give you any advice for your finger, I wish you a speedy recovery. Maybe you can use the time for some other guitar related learning :slightly_smiling_face:. All the best.

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If you are right handed, it would be a good time to explore slide ! Hope it heals soon.



Yes indeed, it seems like a good time to finally make a start on the theory course I’ve been avoiding. :wink:

Ha, I hadn’t thought of that, what a good idea! Buying something guitar-related will cheer me up too! :grin:


I hope you have a speedy recovery, Ross and the rest solves your issue.


When I started playing at age 66, I bought one of those finger exercises that are spring loaded and I overdid it. Took a nerve in my elbow and a couple of my fingers about six months to recover from the stress injury, but they did recover on their own, could be a matter of time, and just overdoing it a bit.

It’s been over six months since this started and so far no improvement whatsoever. It still crunches regularly for reasons unknown. As expected the useless healthcare system here isn’t overly interested in anything non-life threatening, and I don’t have months to wait for an appointment because I’m emigrating.

Some of my wife’s family are in healthcare, so perhaps I can get in to see someone about it after our move. I hope so, because living with the thought that this could get worse and prevent me playing guitar at all is extremely unpleasant.

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Ross, it’s not clear to me whether you have resumed normal practice or not.

I re-read your original post, and the “crunch” did not seem to be causing either pain or problems with your playing - it was just disconcerting, correct?

Is this an accurate recap of your situation then, and is that still the case now?

PS I sympathize with your gripes about the NHS. Here in Canada, we are having similar problems…mainly extremely long waits for non-life threatening conditions. Not fun.

After taking a break for a number of weeks and splinting the finger achieved nothing, I did resume playing again. I generally go careful with anything that requires the finger such as scales and even F chord, and I did not start learning other barre chords as intended last Summer. So while it isn’t completely stopping me playing, it is seriously hampering my progress.

Yep, that’s pretty much correct so far. Occasionally there is a bigger, louder “crunch” or even a “crack” (similar to cracking your knuckles) which causes a momentary, mild pain but normally it doesn’t hurt and isn’t sore.

Ross, I’ve had this crunching in my pinky in the past. I recall catching a cricket ball and my pinky being bent back too far. I suspect it tore some ligaments. They take forever to heal. I wasn’t playing guitar then. It eventually went away.

If it’s any consolation, I doubt there’s anything the doctor would be able to do for you anyway. Hopefully the medical system you are emigrating to is better!

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I’m no doctor, but I suspect if you gently ramp up your practice, your body will tell you if it’s ok or not.

If the pain or other symptoms do not increase, you are not doing any damage.

As @jacksprat says, it’s unlikely that a doctor is going to be much help unless your symptoms become chronic. And maybe not even then.

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You guys are probably right. The reason I’m wary is because I have a few other joint issues that have in fact gotten worse over the years following injury, despite not being initially painful. But it is what it is I suppose. I’ll just get on with it and see what happens. :+1:t2:

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