The Most Common Guitar Related Injuries

Playing the guitar is a great feeling, but it can lead to some nasty injuries. And let’s face it, nobody wants to be cut short when they’re in the zone. To help you avoid some of the most common guitar injuries, we’ve compiled a full list of them below.


Table of contents

1. Tendonitis
2. A snapped string to the face
3. Tennis elbow
4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
5. Back and neck ache 
6. Blisters on your fingertips
7. Tinnitus 


1. Tendonitis

Tendonitis is when the tendon – the thick cord that attaches muscle to bone – becomes swollen, or inflamed.

Due to the nature of guitar playing, you won’t be surprised to read that guitarists often suffer wrist tendonitis.  This causes muscle tightness, connective tissue constriction and pain, and so is described as a ‘dull ache’.

Tendonitis is caused by overusing the wrist muscles – i.e. spending long hours playing the guitar – which produces friction and strain.

If you sustain this injury, follow the steps from Gary Crowley at above. It explains how you can relieve the symptoms of tendonitis.


2. A snapped string to the face

It’s happened to the best of us. You’re tuning your guitar or in the middle of mastering a riff, and a string snaps and hits you right in the face. It’s even worse when you get a string in the eye – this can be a whole other level of pain, especially if you’re leaning over your guitar so that your face is a few inches away. That’s why it’s best to hang back when you’re tuning, to lessen the risk of this happening.

There are several other steps you can take to avoid a string in the face. If you regularly play live, you should restring your guitar at least once a month. Listen to your guitar – over time, you’ll know by ear whether you’re pushing a string beyond its intended tuning, which is more likely to cause it to snap.

It may also be worth looking at your frets, bridge and tuning posts for signs of wear and tear.


3. Tennis elbow

Tennis elbow – or lateral epicondylitis to give it its proper name  – is a condition that causes burning pain around the inner or outer elbow. It can also cause pain in your wrist or thumb.

If you have tennis elbow, you’ll feel stiffness, achiness, and soreness when you play the guitar. You may even feel pain when you lift or bend your arm. In a nutshell, it’s not pleasant.

But how is tennis elbow caused? Well, it’s believed to be triggered by overusing the muscles attached to your elbow which are used to straighten the wrist. So, if you want to avoid sustaining this injury, try not to over-practise on the guitar and put more pressure on the fretboard than required.

If you’re unlucky enough to get this injury, there are ways to get rid of it. Watch the video above for some tips.


4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This injury is arguably the most common to affect guitarists. In fact, it also affects musicians such as pianists.

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you may notice a tingling or numbness in your thumb, or your index, ring, or middle fingers. It’s considered akin to an electric shock and can travel from the wrist up into the arm.  

Given that guitarists use all four fingers to play, and that excess pressure on the wrist is one of the main causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it’s no surprise that guitarists are particularly at risk.

However, if you get this injury,  carry out some of the exercises recommended in the above video, and you’ll be back to playing in no time.


5. Back and neck ache

We’ve all seen Kurt Cobain hunched over his guitar, hair dangling down in front of his face. It’s fair to say guitarists aren’t thinking much about posture when they’re playing. They ought to, though, as back and neck ache arising from bad posture over prolonged periods of playing are among the most common guitar related injuries.

Back and neck injuries are also difficult to treat, so prevention is always the best cure. Good guitar posture is much the same as good sitting posture – keep your back straight as much as possible, with your chest open. It could help to stretch before playing as well.


6. Blisters on your fingertips

Blisters on the ends of your fingertips are the bane of your existence when you’re just starting out. Unless you work with your hands or regularly go rock climbing, your fingertips will be soft and squishy if you’re a beginner.

Plucking or pushing down on a guitar string irritates these soft tips and causes blisters through friction over prolonged periods. Blisters can also be caused by pressing down on the strings too hard and digging them into your fingertips.

There’s no real way to prevent them, as they’re a necessary part of playing the guitar. Just take solace in the fact that the more you play, the more your fingertips will harden, thus reducing the likelihood of you getting blisters.


7. Tinnitus

We know how tempting it is to crank the amp up to 11 (sorry – couldn’t resist), but you’re likely damaging your hearing in the process. A condition called tinnitus can develop when your eardrum is exposed to loud volumes.

This damage can develop incrementally over time or be caused by one single incident. The primary symptom of tinnitus is hearing loss and a ringing in the ears that doesn’t go away. It may be more noticeable at certain times of day, in certain conditions, or when you’re stressed, but there are some methods for reducing its effects.

If you play live or in front of large amps or PA systems without hearing protection, you’re at high risk of developing tinnitus.


Specialist music insurance from Ripe Music

If you injure yourself while playing the guitar, you need specialist music insurance to ensure you’re not out of action for long.

At Ripe Music, we offer Personal Accident cover in case you suffer a serious injury and can’t work or earn money for long periods. We also provide bespoke guitar insurance to protect your guitar against loss, theft, and damage.

Find out more about our cover by clicking the link above, or get an instant online quote and see what we can do for you.

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