Bowling With Middle Finger Pain – Get Relief Now!

I have been bowling with middle finger pain for some time now. In my youth, I injured my finger while at work. Now that I am older, arthritis is making the bowling middle finger joint pain worse. This became even more apparent recently, when I quit bowling for the summer months. 

A few weeks before the start of the fall league, I wanted to throw some practice balls. However, I was experiencing difficulty holding my ball properly. Even potting my fingers into the ball hurt! Why was bowling making  my middle finger pain worse than ever?  I had to find out why.

Bowling With Middle Finger Joint Pain And How I Cured It

Normally, I bowl all season in both summer and winter leagues, at least two times a week. Since my bowling was fairly constant, I didn’t realize the problems developing inside my bowling ball. I had always felt the holes were angled to far back on my ball, even before i learned the term for that was the fInger pitch.

Because I happened to take 3 months off, the problems became apparent as soon as I picked up my ball at summers end to prepare for the new season. I always like to get some tune up shots in whenever I haven’t been bowling for awhile. It helps with my confidence, and it’s a chance to loosen stiff fingers and hands up for hooking the ball.

All of a Sudden, I Had a Problem!

So,I got a lane, put my gear on, and grabbed a ball. I noticed my fingers felt awful stiff and didn’t like being crammed into my bowling ball. I was puzzled by that, and thought my ball felt kinda strange, and I couldn’t remember having that feeling before.

As I threw the first ball, I knew I had a problem. I felt this intense pain in my middle finger, I had to let go of the ball because it hurt so bad, and the ball went right into the gutter immediately. I was in shock! What happened?

I could no longer tolerate the feel of holding the ball. I tried several times, but I could not hold onto the ball.

Did Someone Switch Bowling Balls With Me?

I knew something had changed and it had changed big time. Did I suddenly have middle finger arthritis so badly now,  I could no longer bowl?  Maybe this was someone else’s bowling ball?

I started to look things over more closely. It was my ball alright, but what happened? Hook bowling requires a fingertip drill. That means just the tips of your fingers are inside the holes, up to the first joint. You can read more on that here Hook Bowling and Getting Started.

When I placed my fingers in the ball, I couldn’t bend my fingers enough to feel the back side of my inserts. The only way I could get my fingers to bend enough was to literally squeeze or clench the ball hard (which you are NOT supposed to do).

You can’t get a clean hand release in bowling  when you hold the ball too tightly, you have to lighten the pressure, before you let the ball go. Not to mention, clenching the ball while bowling, increased the middle finger joint pain as well.

Thumb Adjustment For Bowling Middle Finger Pain

I noticed I could pull my thumb out of the ball a half inch, and that would allow my finger enough slack to relieve the finger joint pain.  But, my thumb was not seated properly when I did that. I did realize that I could also shorten my span.

However, that raises the middle joint, and because I wear an extended wrist support, that may be uncomfortable.

My ball-driller took a look at my ball, and helped me figure out what happened. This problem had me questioning if my ball had been drilled improperly some how? Well, That was not the case.

I Am Not a Conventional Style Bowler, I hold My Ball Down

Personally,I bowl a bit differently than conventional bowlers. I had developed some elbow tendinitis a long time ago, maybe 20 years ago. My elbow was so sore, I couldn’t hold the ball up by my chest, so I just held it straight down.

Now, I continue to bowl that way and I am comfortable with it. My elbow no longer hurts, and I want it to stay that way.

But, like I said, I have my ball drilled for a fingertip style of grip to be able to hook the ball. So, When I hold my ball down, that style now puts all the ball weight on the first finger joint of my middle finger as well as my ring finger.

Also, the edge of my finger insert was pressing all that ball weight in the small area on my finger joint. That felt like a knife edge on my sore finger!

So, considering all that with all the weight of the ball in line across my joint finger, and the swelling in the finger joint. It was impossible to continue, I needed to find out what I could do.

Have Your Ball Driller Check Your Ball Fitment First

So, the problem is, what can we do about it. I felt I needed my finger hole changed. It was apparent my finger did not bend as much any more. The arthritis has stiffened it significantly.

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You can also read about some other bowling finger injuries in my previous post.

In this case, I didn’t think my Arthritis was causing the problem, So I discussed the problem with the pro shop.

My ball driller agreed we could pitch the finger forward, or shorten my span to free up my finger and allow more movement. This would also allow me to keep my thumb seated properly in the ball.

I decided to move the finger pitch forward at least a half inch, mainly because my finger had stiffened enough to require it.

Change Finger Forward Pitch To Relieve Middle Finger Pain

It was explained it was better to go a quarter inch at a time until it fit better. Since he couldn’t see my finger inside the ball, he couldn’t visualize I needed as much pitch as I did.

Over the course of several months, I finally got the ball to a point where I can actually feel the  back of the finger hole again. And my finger finally does not hurt as much. Mainly because i don’t have to clench the ball tightly to keep a good grip. Now, I relax my hand and throw a comfortable shot.

My middle finger hole had to be changed to add 5/8″ forward pitch. I also moved the ring finger to add 1/4″ forward pitch. I also found some help for my my finger as well.

Here is a video I found showing how to help release stiff tight fingers.  I tried this and I can tell you this works as well. It helped improve the range of motion on my finger! Take a look!

Finger Joint Pain Relief – Do it Yourself

You can also visit Gary Crowley’s website DIY Joint Pain Relief. com

Gary’s information is free, and it is very helpful for pain relief! I certainly gained some range of motion, and that is a good thing!

Finally, My Finger Pain Is Gone

It was a long journey, but middle finger joint pain is gone and my bowling is much more comfortable! I don’t have to clench the ball, and I have a much better release. I don’t drop my ball and the ball no longer goes into the gutter. And most importantly, my scores are improving!

If you have problems with your fingers hurting you while you are bowling, talk to your ball driller, and let him know. You fit must be comfortable, and if your ball driller doesn’t understand that, you need a new ball driller.

The Comfort Of The Fit Makes The Difference 

You have to make the ball driller understand what is happening inside your ball, before you can get it fixed. All ball drillers want you to think they are the best.

But, you need him to help you, by not changing everything all at once. Unless you are going to start over with a complete new fitting, then do that. I know it will make a drastic difference.

if you are not considering a complete new drilling layout, go slow, change one thing at a time if possible. If you change a couple things and it causes another problem , you won’t know what caused it.

I used an older ball to make the original changes, then had a new ball drilled with the changes we made.

You may need your span shortened, but that may help or cause issues with your release. Then, if that happens, you know what change to reverse the situation.

In that case, you will have to change your hole pitch for your finger to fit properly. or you may want to try shortening your span. That will help your finger to fit better and may be all you need. Then, if it is an improvement, you could then change the finger pitch.

What I did was changed just the middle finger pitch first, several different times on an older ball. Currently, it is pitched 5/8 of an inch forward and is working well.

Change Your Inserts, The Easy Fix

Try the oval end of your finger inserts. Some finger inserts are made as a 2 in 1 Power Lift and Oval Finger Inserts with an oval end and a square grip on one side for generating better revs.

If you are using the square lift side, you could try a new set and turn the insert around and use the oval end. You can’t use the same inserts, because they usually have to be trimmed to fit your ball, so you will have to buy a new set.

Just this change alone will make the finger inserts much more comfortable!

They also make 2 in 1 Oval and Power Oval Finger Inserts to help relieve the pressure on painful  finger joints. The Power Oval side is more oval shaped than straight across, and the other side is just oval shaped.

So, If you have middle finger pain or ring finger pain when bowling, you can give that a try also. I really depends upon how much pain you have and what is causing it.

Get Your Span Checked

You may also have a span issue. Our hands change over time, and you need to adjust your ball fitment from time to time. It is amazing how the pain just disappears when you get properly fitted.

Talk to your ball driller, and have your local pro shop make any adjustments you may need.

Older fingers are stiff and don’t bend like they used to. Senior bowlers could benefit by a span and finger pitch adjustment. Keep in mind, if you wear an extended wrist support, a shorter span will create a higher position of your middle finger and ring finger joints.

It will take some time, and maybe a few ball drilling’s to get it straightened out. But, once you do, you will be on your way to bowling without middle finger joint pain.


If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I answer all my readers as promptly as I possibly can.

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Thanks for your support!


22 thoughts on “Bowling With Middle Finger Pain – Get Relief Now!”

  1. Well I can say from a newbie’s perspective This is great info. For someone like myself, who maybe isn’t as experienced as you and is just starting out, pain and discomfort may deter them to just quit and pick up a new hobby instead.  

    You have provided solutions to the problem which allow them to continue pursuing their interest. Honestly, I didn’t know you could adjust the holes in a bowling ball after they have been drilled…again, new to this bowling thing. 

    Do you have any advice for those of us who are new in regards to what things to consider to determine if a ball is a good fit or not?

    • Hi Amber,

      It could happen for sure. When a bowler decides to bowl regularly in leagues, the are encouraged to buy their own ball and get if fitted to them. This would correct any pain issues. 

      If you are considering a new ball, check out How to Buy a Bowling Ball Made Easy

      This may answer many questions for you. Good luck!

      Thanks for leaving a comment,


  2. Thanks for sharing this article and your experience on bowing. Am sorry about the pain you felt and I as well appreciate the steps you took in eliminating the pain. It is obvious that it is the middle finger that works the most during bowling among the five fingers we have. 

    My observation about your case is that, probably you ignored or didn’t take notice of the finger from when the discomfort started. 

    It has been a reoccurring issue with me, when feel pain, I stop bowling for a time to get better, but the pain still comes back but I think I will go with your solution to be perfectly okay.

    Thanks a lot. 

    • Hi Olalekan,

      You are welcome. I wanted to share my story with my readers. I think I was actually clinching my ball too hard to try and hold on to it. This increased the pain in my hands! I really didn’t think it was something I could correct right away, I thought I was doing something wrong with my bowling mechanics. 

      Now, the finger is feeling fine! So, if you are experiencing this and it goes away, yes you should have your ball driller check your fit on the ball.

      Thanks for leaving a comment,


  3. Great post and good info.

    I had an accident in the school, which made my middle finger lose contact with my hand, a very serious if you can notice. Now I have it all back, but still the pain is sometimes there, like with bowling. I try to play with the other hand now, to solve the pain and enjoy the game. 

    Im happy I see your post I’m going to try the same thing that you’ve done and hopefully this helps. 

    Thanks for this info! 

    • Hi Emmanuel,

      It sounds like your issue is a finger tendon issue. That would not be caused by an incorrect drilling. But, I do know many people with fingers that are deformed, will get balls drilled to fit their hands, and enjoy bowling. maybe you should talk to a ball driller and see if he can help relieve the pain you experience when bowling.

      Thanks for leaving a comment,


  4. Your article is simple but very informative. I usually ignored such things as middle finger pain, when I was bowling in my college. I’m literally surprised by your analysis in such a detailed manner. 

    I no longer play a lot these days, but your article has given great precaution for safety measures. Video shared by you is very useful indeed. Have you experienced any more pain after making the changes in your ball? 

    Thanks for sharing this informative article. 

    • Hi Akshaysaxena,

      Many of us do ignore the small aches and pains we get every day. But, whenever you get an arthritis condition, you can’t ignore it, and it gets worse and worse. I had to determine what my issue was, and correct it, so it took some trial and error until it was resolved.

      I have not had any pain at all with my fingers since i corrected the issues and had the ball plugged and redrilled correctly.

      Thanks for leaving a comment,


  5. I can’t believe I never thought to look this up sooner. I’m in the military and all of the bases have bowling alleys so I decided to take up the hobby. My dad has bowled for years and is currently in four leagues but lives too far away to show me the ropes. 

    I started getting middle finger pain after about two weeks of bowling and just thought it was because I had to get used to movements and suck it up! Finally I decided to check online and see if this is common…after reading this, it’s clear to me that it is probably a fitting issue.

    I’ve been playing with the balls at the lane and was already thinking of getting my own ball. Now I realize that when I do, I need to let the driller know up front about this pain so he can drill the holes to fit properly..

    • Hi Eric,

      You could very well be experiencing an incorrect fit, especially using the house balls found at the bowling alley. One other thing is that the ball weight may be too heavy as well. my article Bowling with Middle finger pain, is aimed primarily at experienced bowlers, who have had a ball drilled the same way for years, and now are experiencing middle finger pain. It is common with people who have arthritis forming in their fingers also.

      Once you get the ball drilled to fit you, these issues should disappear.

      Thanks for leaving a comment,


  6. This is an informative and educative article. You have thoroughly put everything in perspective for anyone reading this post who is having issues with middle finger pain.. I have also been having similar issues with the middle finger because of bowling. I never thought of the ball fitting being the problem.

    I appreciate the fact that you provided solution to this which is an eye opener for me. I am absolutely having my ball fitment checked out. Thank you!

    • Hi Wealthfather,

      Thank you, and I am glad you found the article useful. You can try changing your finger inserts if you have them, you didn’t mention if you use inserts. If you don’t, then certainly have your ball driller check your finger pitch and hand span. You may need the span shortened slightly.

      Thanks for leaving a comment,


  7. Hi Chas! I can imagine your surprise when that ball went right into the gutter immediately. And you were left with that intense pain in my middle finger. I picture you checking your bowling balls to make sure nobody had switched with you. 🙁

    Thank you for sharing your experience and also detailing how you solved the pain issue. Talking to the local pro shop to make adjustments when required can make a huge difference. I’m glad to hear your scores have been improving!

    I have a question for you: What do you and a Thanksgiving guest have in common? You both want a Turkey! 🙂

    • Hi Henry,

      I was shocked to say the least! That never happened before with that intensity! it was a learning experience for sure. I can see that you know about the difference that the pro shop can have on your bowling game. I was sure that others must also be thinking it is just them getting older, and they can’t do anything about it. But, that is not true, they just might be able to correct the problem of bowling with middle finger pain like I did! 

      Lol  Thanks for the turkey joke! Just so the readers know, a “Turkey” is a string of 3 strikes in a row!

      Thanks for leaving a comment and a bit of humor, Henry!


  8. Thank you for sharing bowling with middle finger pain. I can relate to your pain. I haven’t been bowling in about a year, because my middle finger gets swollen due to arthritis. It sometimes gets to the point I can’t make a fist.>>Thank you for adding the video by Gary Crowley. I was able to follow along easily and I felt a difference right away. When Gary said the pain may not start at the fingers but could be in the palm of your hand, I really felt a release of pressure performing the press pull exercises.>>At first, I thought, this is like putting a band-aid on a deep cut that needs stitches. But then I started typing you this comment and my fingers were speeding along like Data for Star Trek. Ok, maybe not quite that fast.>>I’m going to stick with trying the finger treatment for a while, to see if it release the pain in fingers while bowling.>>Before I stopped bowling I bowled an average game of 189. y last 3 games I didn’t even break 100 per game, I was averaging about 70. It’s ok to laugh. God bless you. thanks again.

    • Hi LeNard,

      I am glad when people tell me that an article helped them. Thank you, it is very rewarding and makes this all worthwhile! I found gary’s site and i noticed it helped my finger, so I had to pass it on! 

      I am not laughing, because my average dropped from 205, to 183…and  am just now getting around 187. So it has been a long road for me as well. Pain in the fingers is not good for bowlers! 

      Good luck with your bowling, and thanks for leaving a comment!


  9. This is really educating post. When bowling, I have always noticed it is the middle finger that works more out of the five. But I think the finger got worse because you didn’t really notice it. I think I have to agree with you the ball  driller should check the fitment of the ball anytime there is discomfort

    • Hi Kehinde,

      I am glad my article is useful for you! Yes, try changing your inserts first, especially if you are using the square power lift inserts, check out the power lift oval inserts, they are really comfortable. Talk to the driller and let him check your span BEFORE you change the inserts!! If you need the ball plugged and drilled, you will be wasting new inserts!! Glad I could help. Good luck with your issues!

       Thanks for leaving a comment!


  10. Dear Chas,

    Thanks a lot for the helpful and informative post. Being a bowler this post means a lot to me and I got helpful insights from your post. And sharing from your own experience adds more value to this post.

    When I get pain in my middle finger I normally stop bowling for few weeks and I will try different home remedies. As a result of taking a break I will lose my rhythm and struggle to get it back. Again after few weeks I will get the pain and I will stop bowling for few weeks, its an ongoing problem. 

    How I wish I had found your article sooner when I first started my bowling career! I had to go through the old way of trial and errors. The video you embedded is super helpful.

    You not only addressed the problem and the best thing is you have provided with the solution as well. I am going to try few things which I learned from your post.

    Much Success!


    • Hi Paul,

      Bowlers need those fingers! I am glad I could help you out! I have stopped bowling and searched desperately for elbow tendonitis braces because my bowling elbow pain got so bad! Elbow tendonitis taks a long time to heal!

      However, I must say that arthritis is a major problem as well when we have the issue in our fingers! That is the main reason for writing the Bowling With Middle Finger Pain article in the first place. And, I found the DIY joint pain relief website as well. I am glad you found it helpful for your finger issues as well!

      If you have ongoing issues, you need to have your ball driller check you fit and see just what is happening that is causing your pain! You will be glad you did! 

      Thanks for leaving a comment Paul and good luck with your issues as well!


  11. I don’t think I ever realized how technical bowling can be. 

    I am so glad you figured it out and are sharing it with the world. I think so many people will be benefiting from this article! I have never been very good at bowling, but I have also never been taught how to! I can tell just by reading your article, that my technique is not very good or sustainable. I always bowled and my ball would land half way down the lane. It was fun and I was okay, but if I ever pursued bowling again I would have to revamp my technique!

    Glad you are bowling pain free now!

    Thanks for sharing,


    • Hi Clara,

      I am sure you have seen the pro’s on tv bowling, and they are bowling for a lot of money! Those balls they use are what the serious aspiring bowlers use in the classic leagues at the bowling alley. The invest a lot of time in leagues as well as local tournaments, and they practice, practice, and practice some more, that is how you get good at bowling. It is all in how much time you put into it.

      I can only guess at what you may be doing wrong, because I don’t know if you have your own equipment or not. If it is the house ball at the bowling alley, the fitment is probably not good at all. You are holding onto the ball too long!

      The best way to learn, is to sign up for some leagues, and have someone give you some beginners pointers. I do have several articles that may help.In my beginners area, Hook Bowling and Getting Started might help if you want to try hooking the ball. I also have Free Advice on Rental Bowling Shoes,

      The best article for solving your problem of throwing the ball halfway down the lane is The Release in Hook Ball Bowling.

      Thanks for stopping and leaving a comment!  I hope I have been some help?

      Good luck with your bowling!



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