Can Playing Guitar Cause Arthritis?


When it comes to arthritis, there are many things you can do to treat the condition. But can playing the guitar causes arthritis?

Some people believe playing the guitar can cause arthritis or aggravate it. Luckily these claims are not scientifically proven. The movements of the fingers and wrist on the guitar improve dexterity and strength, which reduces pain caused by arthritis. Even if it causes arthritis, the onset of symptoms will take very long to show up.

Whatever the cause of arthritis, there are many ways to play the guitar if you are affected by it. Let’s find out more about how you can manage to do it.

Arthritis and its effects on playing the guitar

Arthritis is inflammation of joints, which can become disfigured in some conditions. People with arthritis may experience pain, stiffness, and loss of movement. In the USA alone, 24% of the adult population has arthritis, and the numbers are growing.

There are many forms of arthritis, and there are two types of arthritis in adults: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage is broken between the bones of the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis causes damage to the lining of the joint capsule and synovium.

Guitar players with arthritis suffer from finger, hand, and wrist pain. And in some cases, it can be so painful to prevent a guitarist from playing. So playing the guitar might be difficult while you have arthritis, but it’s certainly not impossible.

Guitar legend Les Paul had arthritis and still played for his audience. Similarly, The Rolling Stones rockstar Keith Richards also has arthritis, and aged 78 years, he still plays the guitar.

Can playing guitar helps with arthritis?

Playing the guitar is an enjoyable hobby for many people. Still, when diagnosed with arthritis, they worry about their ability to play. As mentioned above, many famous guitarists play despite having arthritis without many problems.

Multiple studies have shown that playing the guitar is one of the best forms of exercise for arthritis. One such study was carried out by Arthritis UK Sunderland Group in 2014 and discussed the effects of playing instruments on arthritis.

If you are affected by arthritis, your physician will recommend some exercises comprising gentle movements to improve blood flow. You will be surprised to know that most guitar players have found playing guitar releases endorphin, which helps alleviate arthritis pain.

Playing the guitar can be therapeutic when you have arthritis. Still, listening to your body when it requires rest is essential. Going through the pain can do more harm than good and might prevent you from playing the guitar.

Before playing a jamming session or performing at a gig, make sure to get your pain to a manageable level. Otherwise, you might not enjoy playing the guitar at all.

Tips For Playing Guitar With Arthritis

If you have arthritis, playing the guitar may seem like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can do many things to make playing the guitar easier on your body and, in turn, make it a more enjoyable experience.

Here are some of the best tips for playing the guitar with arthritis.

Warmup before playing guitar

A simple warmup before playing the guitar is essential to prevent joint and finger pain. Stretching your fingers, hands, and arms will remove tension and loosen up the joints.

Because many muscles, tendons, and bones are involved in moving fingers, warmup stretching will make it easier to play the guitar. After stretching your fingers and hands, practice moving your fingers on the fretboard before starting to play.

Apart from stretching your hands and fingers, it is better to warm up your whole body. To increase your cardiovascular activity, try taking a fast-paced walk for a couple of minutes and move your shoulders and elbows for strength and support while playing the guitar.

Use a capo and play slowly

Barre Chords are the hardest to play and can prove even tricky if you have arthritis. You can either use open chords or use a capo. A capo will help you avoid barre chords and keep your tune crisp.

If you don’t want to use a capo, you can play the guitar slowly and keep your wrists straight. And by keeping your fingers closer to the fret, you wouldn’t be applying much pressure on the strings.

Use a thumb pick and finger caps

When you have arthritis griping a guitar pick might become tricky. In that case, you can use a thumb pick that will allow you more grip and play the guitar more easily.

To keep your fingers from hurting, you can use silicone finger caps specially designed for guitarists with arthritis. It helps you push down your finger on the string without harming it.

Automatic tuner for effortless tuning

Tuning a guitar requires making many adjustments and twisting the pegs, which becomes problematic with arthritis. You can use an automatic tuner to tune your guitar and do all the work for you.

Use a guitar with larger neck

You might feel lose grip on your guitar is not letting you play it correctly due to arthritis. To overcome this problem, you can invest in a guitar with a larger neck which will provide you a perfect grip and keep your hands from getting tired.

Know when to stop

Playing guitar has its own thrill and excitement, but doing so with painful arthritis can cause damage. You should always listen to your body and stop playing guitar when the pain starts. After a proper resting break, you can continue playing the guitar.


Arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation in the joints and, unfortunately, has no cure. The pain and stiffness can get so bad that you may have trouble playing the guitar. So, can playing guitar cause arthritis? Fortunately enough, currently, no evidence can prove this claim.

But even if you have arthritis, there are many ways to overcome that and keep playing your favorite guitar.

Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

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