Surgery Yesterday

Hi everyone,

Just had surgery on my left hand to repair arthritic thumb basal joint. Will be unable to practice or play my familiar songs for a few months. Not looking sympathy but any chance I will forget some of my skills (I’m stuck in Grade 2). Does anyone think it will be best to go back to grade level one and set up practice sessions to regain the skills again? At 70, I’ve been enjoying learning at a slow pace . Thank you for listening.


You’ll be a bit rusty but if you’ve been playing for a little while it’ll soon come back to you. Good luck with the recovery hope it all works out.


I suggest you go back to the Consolidation of Grade 1 and camp there for a period of time and see how it goes. No doubt you will need to remind yourself of some things. Also you will be losing some stamina, strength in that thumb area, etc. Mention to your PT person that you play guitar and see if you can sub in some guitar work for your hand strengthening work so you don’t overdo things. Once the Consolidation of Grade 1 feels as good as it should, move through the modules of Grade 2, even at a quick pace, to again build your stamina and strength back up. It will also serve to fill in any gaps that you may have glossed over. I am also on Grade 2.


This is what I am thinking. after you blow the dust off your memory and fingers, you will need to work on dexterity and strength on the thumb. Your fingertips may need a little hardening again as well, but no big deal there.

Use the time not playing for a few things:

  1. imagine playing, working thru things that are in process now as well as stuff you know well. The “dust” won’t settle too deeply for when you can play again
  2. listen to a lot of music and make lists of stuff you want to learn, be they songs or techniques
  3. follow the PT as closely as you can - not too much, not too little.
  4. maybe ear training or music theory interest you? I have to trade play time with those, so it would be a good choice for me if I couldn’t play.

While you are out of action fretting wise, I’d recommend Strumming SOS with a sock tied around the neck (of the guitar) to mute the strings and practice timing and patterns. Practical Music Theory as well. When you start up again, it won’t do any harm to have a refresher and iron out anything that’s suffered a set back during the time off. I doubt it will take you long through.
Have a speedy recovery !


Hi Philip :exclamation: Sad to read your surgery experience. Give you sympathy even though you don’t want it. Take it… it’s free :smiley: . I’m 65 and in beginner level two and had a bursitis in right elbow. Had to stop completely practicing for 4 months. I was sure it would take very long to get my chops (…) back together. Surprise , it went unexpectedly fast. Even the left hand calluses were coming back faster than expected. I just came back practicing shorter periods, practice to consolidate level 1 first before going to level two, practice slow and insisting on « practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent ». And it came all back pretty well. Surprisingly. Have a great day. Don’t worry be happy :upside_down_face: :slightly_smiling_face: :open_mouth:


Hi Philip, fellow Grade 2 student here.

I had surgery on my left wrist in April 2022, after breaking it in a motorcycle accident in the March. I was unable to play guitar at all for about 3 months, and then only for a few minutes until the pain was too much. I was so convinced that I wasn’t going to be able to play guitar again that, after a brief flirtation with harmonica, I started learning piano - which is something I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn theory, my understanding has advanced in leaps and bounds because of it. However I did start again, and gradually the pain diminished and I was able to play for longer and longer periods. When I started again, I went

and gradually worked my way back to where I’d been before my injury, approximately 12 months after the accident. I’ve since progressed further into Grade 2 (currently stuck on module 19) and next week I’m due to make my OM debut!

What PT person? I got a poorly duplicated sheet of 2 sides of A4 showing the exercises I needed to do. I did mention guitar to the surgeon, but as soon as he established that I don’t play professionally he lost interest. Nevertheless, I did do the exercises religiously, I found little and often to be the key. Similarly with guitar, once I started playing again, I stopped as soon as the pain started, which meant my initial practice routine was literally 5 minutes, some days in the beginning, not even that!

My main takeaways from the experience are

  1. do something to keep your interest in music alive
  2. Do the exercises they give you little and often, stop when it hurts
  3. when you start playing again, same - little and often, stop when it hurts

And finally, if you grow despondent and start to feel that you’ll never be able to play guitar again - as I did at one point - you might like to read this post where I describe what gave me the inspiration to persevere.


Thanks to all that replied . Excellent suggestions. I hope that I can only be out of commission for 2-3 months. I will definitely use that time to review everything suggested. This such a great community to bend an ear. I’ll keep you posted on the progress after I start up again. Thanks again.


I injured the middle finger on my fretting hand a few years back and couldn’t put any pressure on the strings. So I got a slide (tried glass, brass and ceramic) and used open tunings to play the blues. It was a lot of fun. Youtube is your friend.

I have had so many orthopedic injuries I have a room named after me at my orthos office. One thing i can tell you is to hit that physical therapy super hard and get as many at home excersizes as you can. This way you will come back better than before. All you have to do after is get your muscle memory back up to spec. That just requires putting in the practice and you already know how to do that. Injuries suck, but with a successful procedure, strong PT regiment and a determined mind you will be back ripping it up in no time. Good luck.

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Will check that out. Could be fun!! Thanks

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Very determined to get back to where I left off. I am looking forward to the rehab. Definitely not afraid of some pain if it gets me back to full use. Thanks.

I’ve had several interruptions to my learning, often around 3 months long each.
I then have to relearn some stuff, but found that lots of it still sticks in there.
One thing which may help is just visualising the guitar and how you will be playing it. Brain is a weird thing that can translate physical info in as well as imaginary info out.

Just don’t try playign air guitar in the supermarket, you’ll get funny looks!

I just got back from surgery - had a new truss rod fitted in my leg. Trying to figure out how I can use it to excuse my lousy playing when I get to pick it up again in a few days!

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Thanks for the suggestion. Visualization will keep my mind in the game. I’ve been staying positive about my recovery thanks to the encouragement of this great community.

Hey Philip @plagana4, I realize it’s only been a week since your surgery, but: how are you doing?

Doing well. Less pain. Miss using my left hand. Hopefully I will get stitches out on Monday. Rehab to follow. Can’t wait to get back to my practicing. Enjoyed the journey so far. Thanks for asking.

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Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery Philip @plagana4!

You too Andy @AndyTake2!

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Thanks. Stitches out Monday . Rehab to follow.