View Full Version : Thumb Knuckle Pain

02-19-2012, 03:17 PM
Is there a doctor in the house?

I am experiencing a good deal of knuckle pain in my left thumb. It is likely arthritis related. It is making it difficult to form some shapes. Anyone have any suggestions on relieving, controlling, removing the pain?


02-19-2012, 07:27 PM
Now I live in New Zealand where we don't get sued for crappy medical advice ;-) So...
I get arthritis pain in the knuckles of my left hand after a lot of playing and started taking glucosamine tabs. Have found them amazingly effective (I'm a bit of a sceptic about "natural remedies"). You're supposed to take a dosage every day but I've actually found that if I pop a couple staright after a big session i wake the next day with much less stiffness and pain.

02-19-2012, 07:49 PM
Some people can tolerate DMSO, and every so often, some cannot. You put one drop on the area. If it feels like it is burning, wash it off. Arnica, olive oil, cayenne powder, and a couple of other other natural ingredients are packaged and sell commercially for $50.00. There isn't anything I don't have at home, so I mix my own for my arthritic knee. You can do a Google Search for Soothanol and find out their ingredients and why they are included. If you are cheap like I am, you can pick and choose and mix your own. You can also lay down yer money and take yer chances. Fortunately, I am not allergic to DMSO.

02-19-2012, 07:49 PM
When I switched from a thin necked ukulele to one with a thicker neck, the same thing happened to me. I found out I was using the wrong hand position. I corrected it, and the pain went away.

02-19-2012, 10:59 PM
I think a lot of the problems that people experience
in this area are down to either gripping too hard,or
holding the left (or fretting) hand in the wrong
position.Like Nickie,one of my small herd,has a
thicker neck than the rest,and after a long session
on it,I can feel cramped or slightly stiff; a thing that
never happens on any of my others.Allowing for age
and health (I am elderly and creaky!) experimenting
with slightly different hand positions,and amount of
grip ought to solve your problem.
Just my opinion of course,but after 48 years in a previous
life as a guitarist,I think I have the (potential) problem

02-20-2012, 02:28 PM
Thanks all. I do notice that it is worse on chords that I am barring/gripping harder. Nickie and Luthien, how did you correct?

02-20-2012, 08:36 PM
I think a lot of the problems that people experience
in this area are down to either gripping too hard,or
holding the left (or fretting) hand in the wrong

You are, of course, completely right. I grip the neck of uke as though it's some sort of animal that's going to wriggle away and my technique is atrocious - my finger pain is almost certainly because of that.

02-20-2012, 11:49 PM
Marna, a friend of mine used to grip way too hard on barre chords;
the solution he used was to stand his ukulele on the floor and pick
it up,one handed (left hand in his case,but use the 'fretting hand')
When he did this,just the weight of the uke was in his grip,and if
he picked it up so that his fingers formed a full barre across all four
strings,then he could strum the uke,whilst it still hung suspended
in his left hand,and each string would ring out clearly and cleanly
with no muting,buzzing or otherwise.THAT he decided,was
exactly how tight a grip he needed,to play the instrument.And his
playing,especially his barre chords,improved a lot afterwards!

02-21-2012, 03:17 AM
have the same thing. Dr. said arthritis but I finally remembered carrying a guitar and my uke in one hand with the thumb on one and the fingers on the other. This streched something and I have had pain in the thumb since then. (about 4 months) it is getting better. The thumb joint still clicks but I don't have to straighten it out with the other hand now. I use Blue Emu and it seems to help. I think time is the healing factor though.

Pukulele Pete
02-21-2012, 03:41 AM
When I was 10 or 11 I started guitar lessons ( thanks Dad ) and I had problems with my left thumb and I think it was something I was doing wrong holding the neck. It stopped after a few years and 50 years ( yes,I'm old ) later I dont have any problems ( yet) . What I'm trying to say is maybe you can change your hand position and it will go away.

02-21-2012, 04:45 AM
There's another thread about Ukulele Ergonomics on UU - if you Google 'ukulele ergonomics' you'll find some stuff.

I really want to take a Dave Egan Ukulele Ergonomics workshop now.

Spanky Gutierrez (Omaha, NE) related a story from when he met Bill Tapia. Bill was laid up in a hospital bed. He was propped up on pillows, and even tho very weak, picked up a uke, and Spanky noticed that his right wrist was not bent when he played.

A tip from Pops Bayless (Austin, TX) - when squeezing try to move your thumb away from where you're fretting, towards the headstock, and use your thumb as a fulcrum. Your hand kinda looks like you're trying to hitch a ride. I do this when I'm having trouble with barre chords, and it does help. I need to do it enough to make this a habit.

Hope these help - I have right thumb pain, go figure.

02-21-2012, 07:13 AM
Hey, that's a good tip! Seems the consensus is to change my grip. I'll have to work on that! Thanks.

02-21-2012, 07:19 AM
Thanks Christine. Good suggestions and I'll check out the link.