View Full Version : Need advice, i have tendonitis after playing ukulele for two hours

12-25-2013, 09:43 AM
Any doctor here, a uke player, need advice....or anyone have the same problem

Adn i just googled it, im just guessing its the extensor pollicus longus under the section of extensor tendons

12-25-2013, 10:15 AM
Having just recently been through a uke-related injury, I can pass on my doctor's advice: ice it for 20 minutes every hour or so. That part of his advice I was able to follow; the other part was more challenging: take a break from playing :) Good luck!

12-25-2013, 10:39 AM
Consider your technique. I have had to readjust my strumming hand position to avoid problems. Also, try a strap so you don't have as much tension in your hand. Massage is good too. There's a guy in my neighborhood who was an acupuncturist in China who gives massages that seem to fix just about any sore muscle or tendon.

12-25-2013, 10:59 AM
You did not state which hand. One problem might be a really bent LH wrist, and if so, try and keep it straighter.

12-25-2013, 11:48 AM

Not sure this will translate to your problem, but a couple~three months ago I had a bout with what was probably carpal tunnel in my fretting left hand. The recommendation to me was to not play for three months or so and I replied: 'you're out of your mind! That's not going to happen!'

Plan 'B' was to slow down and wear a wrist brace as much as possible during the day and to definitely wear it at at night while sleeping. There is a tendency to bend your wrist in sleep (fetal position?) and the brace keeps you honest during the night. That worked for me after about a month or so. I optimistically pledged to spend time with my right hand working on strums and picking patterns during the interim. Fail.

Good luck. I bet you'll get some good advice here and hope some of it helps.

12-25-2013, 12:26 PM
I'm not a specialist in treating tendonitis but this summarizes what I have read and what I have done in the past.

To treat an acute tendonitis, rest, ice, and NSAID meds are the standard recommendations. Of the three, rest is the most important. If pain is present for longer than a day or so, it is crucial to back off from playing. If one tries to 'play through the pain', tendonitis can become chronic and then recovery is much longer.

To lessen the chances of tendonitis occurring, several approaches might be helpful.
Use proper left hand technique. The wrist should be arched when playing. there is more tension on the wrist when one wraps the thumb around the neck. One should also work toward playing with a very relaxed left hand.
Stretch the wrist before playing, and taking frequent short breaks to stretch and relax the wrist.
Make certain uke action is low. Light gauge strings allow less effort during playing.
Icing the wrist after playing might also help. NSAID meds should probably be taken only when acute pain lasts more than a couple of days.
As suggested above, wearing a splint can also help when pain is present.

Talk with a professional if pain is persists and rest does not result in improvement.

12-25-2013, 03:38 PM
You did not state which hand. One problem might be a really bent LH wrist, and if so, try and keep it straighter.

i strum with my right hand, so its my right hand

12-25-2013, 05:59 PM
You need to stop playing until the pain goes away. Know how I know this? I just had to take a 3 week break for the same reason. But it was my left wrist. The break drove me absolutely nuts. But I don't want to risk any permanent damage. It's not worth it.

12-25-2013, 06:27 PM
i strum with my right hand, so its my right hand

hmm...sound like you might get away with a brace, totally relax your hand and just strum that way.

12-25-2013, 07:56 PM
I've spoken with a professional guitar player who said that he gets it in his fretting hand if he plays long gigs. I had no problems whatsoever, playing uke for a couple of years, pretty heavily then all of a sudden I started having pain in my arm just below my right elbow (my strumming arm). Over a months time it just got worse, to the point that I had to lay off. Pain was radiating from my elbow up to my shoulder and down to my hand. Checked web md, etc. consensus was that there was no definitive treatment. Rest, ice, topical cremes, cortisone shots, heat, braces, physical therapy exercises, surgery and more were suggested, articles said that no one treatment was clearly better than the others, results varied, and none were particularly successful. I tried rest, brace, heat, ice and topicals with absolutely no success. Even quitting playing for a month had almost no effect on my arm, so I started playing again. I've been back playing now for about 2 months and pain remains, some times worse than others but always there, even when I'm completely still. I'm continuing to search for info on this apparent tendinitis/golfers-tennis-ukulele elbow and hope I find something that works. I've read some promising articles on an exercise involving extending the tendon with resistance (provided by foam tube, kinda like pool float but smaller, think I saw them for about$10+ on Amazon or ebay). Gonna try that next, cuz quitting just ain't happening (especially since my month long hiatus yielded so little improvement). Anyone else been thru this?

Johnny GDS
12-25-2013, 09:00 PM
I had tendinitis in my ankle that was in some ways similar. Nothing helped, not time, not stretching, not resting, not physical therapy, nothing. I finally got a round of steroidal anti inflamatory drugs (methylpredneselone or something very close to that) that worked withing a week and I've never had the problem again. Sometimes that is the only solution.

On a side note, the mostly likely way to avoid it in the future would probably be relaxing that arm. Its easy to have a lot of tension and not know it. Just let your hand sit on your leg completely empty of tension for a minute or so. Focus on not having any grip or tension at all, then take that hand and strum a little bit being sure to never change that feeling any more than absolutely necessary. It might take quite a bit of effort to make the transition (assuming tension is your problem), but its way better than pain or quitting!

The Big Kahuna
12-25-2013, 10:11 PM
There is one rule, and one rule only, when it comes to injury/illness:

Don't look it up or seek advice on the internet. This is what doctors are for. In an extreme example; you may follow a bunch of well-intentioned advice, most of which is perfectly valid for the person giving the advice, only to find that you have an underlying predisposition to a particular condition, and end up having surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. If it concerns you, go see the doc'

12-25-2013, 10:29 PM
+1 with the Big K. Go and see your doctor. That said of the other suggestions, rest & ice won't do any harm so are worth trying.

If you are new to the uke, it is always possible that it is simply muscles that are not used to that activity being brought into use, in which case it may ease with time but if you are worried you should definitely see the doc and have it checked and while you are accustoming your body to a new activity, don't play too long at any one time. The moment you feel discomfort building, stop and rest a while. I had aches in my right arm but by resting regularly it eventually settled.

12-26-2013, 04:53 AM
Be very careful. If you don't give that injury enough respect, it can get worse and threaten your playing for a very long time. In addition to the many suggestions, here's one..........If you have decent insurance, see a hand specialist to rule out anything more serious than just a little tendonitis. Then receive some physical therapy to strengthen the supporting muscles to prevent it from happening again. Please listen to the other suggestion about making sure you are using proper hand position, a major cause of avoidable hand and wrist problems like yours. Good luck.

12-26-2013, 06:20 AM
i strum with my right hand, so its my right hand

For what it's worth, I just starting playing the ukulele in early November and, within two weeks, developed tendonitis in my left forearm (fretting hand). For anyone who has ever had "tennis elbow", it is essentially the same type of pain. In my case, I've assumed it is from using muscles (and the associated tendons) that were not getting much use. It seems to be gradually getting better.

12-26-2013, 09:54 AM
I second everything that Jackwhale has written in his post below and suggest rereading that post for anyone with a similar issue.

I have also found rest (i.e. stop playing) to be a critical step in recovery, and technique to be a critical factor in preventing recurrence. Fat necked ukuleles (e.g. Pono) seems to have some relationship to tendonitis issues (ie. more tendonitis with fatter necks) based on what others have written.

Again, Jackwhale Jon's advice is excellent.

mm stan
12-26-2013, 09:58 AM
I am no doctor, but I would not push it as mentioned before...go and see a doctor and let it heal..
check to see if your neck is too wide or thick..also get a set up for and drop the action.....good luck and happy strummings..

Captain America
12-26-2013, 05:14 PM
Folks, here's my affidavit:

I bought a new tennis racquet about a year ago: a couple of the same model. i've used the same model for the past 15 years or so, but wanted to move on.

(a) since it was new, I wanted to play as much as I could, so I played a LOT more tennis, but continued playing squash as well;

(b) the new frame was slightly heavier than the one it was to replace;

(c) it had a lower swingweight, so I was overpronating, particularly on the backhand;

(d) I also was working hard at practicing my triple strum on the ukulele!


That's been six months ago, haven't played tennis or squash since. I suffered various muscle strains (which recovered the first month or so) and rebuilt up tendon at the elbow. It's still stiff and I'm set to see a doc soon. Right now, I'm doing exercises and getting a massage. This will take I think about three more months to take care of: tendons are troublesome things when it comes to tendon repair.

It took me a while, once I set the racquets down, to realize that guitar and uke were co-conspirators here. I've been able to uke the past 2 months, but no triple strum and no hard strumming/fast paced stuff.

OP: stop what you're doing. Give yourself two months, then try in baby steps.

12-28-2013, 12:09 PM
I know folks will probably make fun of this... but I've used a chiropractor to get rid of tendinitis in my elbow and feet. I fought both for years, took prescription anti inflammatory meds. ice, heat, stretching, etc. Went to a chiropractor for my back (my general practitioner referred me) and after a few months my back was feeling much better and I mentioned the elbow, he adjusted my arm and within 3 days the pain subsided. I was amazed and told him about the feet, they took a little longer to get right (One Doctor wanted to operate on my feet.) Very few problems after 5 years, but I get adjusted regularly and don't have to take any OTC or Prescription meds. PM me if you want more info.

12-28-2013, 01:19 PM
Take care of it! I was aggressive with shooting slingshots and developed pain in my elbow. I stopped shooting to let it heal but never had it looked at. We are at one year and counting. Kicking myself as I type.