Steve Vai reveals he held a chord so long he needed surgery

He “was meditating” on the chord in an awkward position.

Steve Vai

Image: Tim Mosenfelder / Getty

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Steve Vai has revealed that he’s currently recovering from surgery to repair a case of trigger finger, meaning the virtuoso won’t be able to play guitar for a while.

Speaking on an episode of the Guitar Villains podcast, Vai explained what led to the injury: “I was doing this fun thing, and I had to put my thumb in this really weird position. I had to kind of hold this chord really for a long time – I was meditating on it.

“I knew it was a hard position, and I just kept sitting there and playing it and playing and playing, and 20 minutes later, I’d kind of come out, and I [felt pain]. So I kind of sprained [the hand].”

“Then, all of a sudden, I developed trigger finger,” he explained. “My wife said, ‘Don’t show anybody,’ because they do that operation and they cut in there, and the guy’s fooling around with everything in there, and it’s really bizarre.”

Thankfully, Vai’s fretting finger will recover, as he explained: “it’s all fine – it’s something very simple that they can fix. But I won’t be able to play for a while.”

Trigger finger is the result of a tendon becoming swollen or inflamed, meaning it can no longer freely move through its tendon sheath. This can cause difficulty and pain when moving the affected finger or thumb. Various treatments from anti-inflammatory medication to the surgery Vai underwent can relieve it.

See the episode of Guitar Villains below.

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