What to do about arthritis?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by Jelly Roll Horton, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. Jelly Roll Horton

    Jelly Roll Horton Gretschie

    Nov 10, 2017
    Portland, OR
    This is a question for all the older guys here. I’ve got arthritis in my left thumb, which is a problem for fretting barre chords. I exercise, stretch, and take ibuprofen, but sometimes that doesn’t do it. Any other suggestions?
  2. RG7X

    RG7X Gretschie

    Nov 11, 2018
    Los Angeles
    I'm not old (I think) but I have problems with my left thumb after barre chords as well. The best thing I've ever found was a low radius fretboard. My Hot Rod has a 9.5 inch radius fretboard and it makes chording so much easier on that left thumb. I don't know if I'd ever go back to a 12.
    rockinforJesus likes this.
  3. larryr

    larryr Gretschie

    Mar 6, 2012
    Camarillo, Ca.
    Had it, have it . I have two different musician friends that wear the magnetic bracelets. They swore by them. I thought it was Hocus pocus. Contempt before investigation. I finally bought a couple, and wear them at night. Between them, massaging it, glucosamine supplement, and warming up, it helps a great deal. I don't know which practice is doing the most good, so I just continue with all of them.. try it.

    While we are on this subject, has anybody tried compression gloves? Helpful?
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  4. Runamok

    Runamok Electromatic

    Aug 25, 2017
    USA midwest
    Magnets? Really?
    Sorry to go all scientific, but what is it that you believe magnets do?

    Bret Favre is that you spoofing?
    jdto, rockinforJesus and wabash slim like this.
  5. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    The basic premise is that it is believed to stimulate blood flow which can provide relief from pain associated with inflammation. It's for pain management, just as heat treatment or massaging. It's not gonna cure cancer.


    This was done in rats.

    "The mechanism is not fully understood, he added, but he suspects the magnetic field alters the flow of positively charged calcium ions that interact with the muscles around the small blood vessels, causing them to dilate or constrict.
    Skalak worries that his study will be taken out of context and used to boost sales of magnetic gizmos that are not supported by medical evidence. He's probably right."

    He being Dr Thomas Skalak, a bioengineer specializing in cardiovascular research.

    Science is not just being critical, it also requires an open mind.
  6. dak55

    dak55 Synchromatic

    May 31, 2018
    Mills River NC
    I have the same exact problem so following the thread. It really sucks that when I was younger I was too busy at work to play much. Now that I've retired barre chords have been excrutiating after more than about 45 minutes. Was thinking about getting cortisone shots but I hear that's not very pleasant either. Where's @drmilktruck when you need him?:(
  7. dak55

    dak55 Synchromatic

    May 31, 2018
    Mills River NC
    I've got no solution for the left thumb issue, but as I'm sure you've realized you can still do finger or pick practice with the right hand (though tedium sets in quickly for me) and open chords not needing the back pressure of the left thumb are fine. But sometimes you just need a barre if your fingers can't span 5 frets.;)
    Charlie westside likes this.
  8. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    I'm 54, but fortunately, I seem to escape from this pain (osteoarthritis). Since I'm only playing in barre chords for rhythm and chorusing, it would nearly mean a stop in playing guitar for me... :eek::(

    Charlie westside likes this.
  9. swivel

    swivel Synchromatic

    May 13, 2018
    Yep, I'm 71 now, both thumbs at the base of the thumb. Elbows bother me worse though, I think I try to tune out the thumb pain. Ibuprofen for me, if a big long music weekend maybe something stronger, gets me through the night and recover the next day. I'm taking a low lever RA medication but it's mostly to stop further damage.
    I think the most comfortable neck I have for thumbs is the Clapton soft V. I avoid the Barre chord especially at the F to G area.
  10. Mudshark

    Mudshark Synchromatic

    Jul 20, 2012
    I have severe arthritis in the knees (One replaced), back from a sciatica episode and sometimes elsewhere. I took anti inflammatories for years but they only rotted my guts, after my knee replacement I kicked the anti-inflams and am only using CBD oil now. zero side effects.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  11. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Arthritis is God's way of letting me know that I'm still alive when I wake up. If I didn't hurt, I'd figure something was really wrong.

    Aleve, ibuprofen, and others work---somewhat. Alternating hot and cold soaks in water seem to help as well. I've got in in both hands, sacroiliac, and knees.

    I don't think that it gets any better.
  12. drmilktruck

    drmilktruck Gretschified

    May 17, 2009
    Plymouth, MN
    See a hand therapist. They are very helpful. Strengthening the little muscles in the hand can reduce pain and improve function a lot. Sometimes a hand splint is necessary. A cortisone injection in the joint can help temporarily. Otherwise it's rest when really bothering you, ice or heat (which ever you prefer or helps more), anti-inflammatories like naproxen (Aleve). Stay away from hand surgeons unless the pain becomes unbearable. Don't waste your money on magnets, copper bracelets, etc...
    ronbo, rockinforJesus, dak55 and 2 others like this.
  13. Jelly Roll Horton

    Jelly Roll Horton Gretschie

    Nov 10, 2017
    Portland, OR
    What is CBD oil?
  14. thunder58

    thunder58 I Bleed Orange

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    @Jelly Roll Horton , my hands cramp sometimes . I just going to play till I can't play no more . Good luck friend
    nickurso likes this.
  15. dak55

    dak55 Synchromatic

    May 31, 2018
    Mills River NC
    A cannibas product. It did nothing for my dog except suck $60 a month out of my wallet.

    I had no idea there was such a thing as a hand therapist. Never thought of ice - duh!!!
  16. tdtom

    tdtom Gretschie

    Oct 26, 2018
    new zealand
    maybe try a TENS unit. electro shock works for lower back pain... not sure where you would put the patches for your thumb tho...
  17. swivel

    swivel Synchromatic

    May 13, 2018
    It's inflammation, so Ibuprofen or aspirin even when you have no pain keeps it in check a bit.
    rockinforJesus likes this.
  18. panhead6zero

    panhead6zero Synchromatic

    Jan 17, 2015
    The Motor City
    I take an oral supplement for joints called Baxyl. It is a hyaluranon compound. Kind of like the synovial fluid that lubricates your joints. I don't have arthritis, but my joints don't creak a lot and I have less stiffness in my joints.
  19. Jelly Roll Horton

    Jelly Roll Horton Gretschie

    Nov 10, 2017
    Portland, OR
    Yeah, I get hand cramps too, but I can usually stretch those out.
    thunder58 likes this.
  20. Charlie westside

    Charlie westside Synchromatic

    Jul 27, 2018
    Sylmar Califirnia
    The onset is painful. When you have your thumb on the back of the neck and put pressure on the neck with your thumb to make a chord it is painful.
    I was worried for about 4 months, I even went to get a cortisone shot which did not help. I refused to stop playing and started adjusting the way I use my thumb to make chords. It was challenging at first but started getting easier. the atheritis I have is at the base of my thumb. at times it locks up on me. Let me just say that the onset was painful. The pain has deminished somewhat as time has gone by and I can mostly play. There are flare ups where I take tylenol for arthritis and it helps. I also take Glucosamine every day. Stretching, even cracking my thumb knuckle at the base helps it not lock up brfore playing. At 52 I refuse to let it stop me from playing the way I want. I can"t give much advise. just:
    • Stay strong willed
    • stretch before playing
    • keep hands warm before playing, you can get some gloves cut the fingers off, powder the glove so that your hand can glide up and down the neck. The idea is keep your thumb warm but not to restricted.
    • Take Glucosamine every day and have Taylenol for Arthritis at least an hour before gigging or playing in church.
    • Get a lot of movement. look up exercises you can do.
    I know it all sounds very ritualistic,
    I have been dealing with it for about 6 months and these things work for me. It's worth the effort if you love playing. Remember ROCK ON!!!
    Jelly Roll Horton likes this.
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