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  1. #1

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    Hi fellas. I had a freak accident while heading to a gig this weekend. A rock fell down a mountain ledge and smashed into my car, knocking out my passenger window with a gun-shot like blast. In my panic, I reached out toward the broken glass and seriously cut my fingering hand "birdie" finger (on the joint between the birdie and the ring finger). The cut was deep in the artery and severed the nerve running by the artery causing loss of all sensation in that side of the finger -- finger tip on down.

    Sorry for the gory details, but I want you to understand the nature of my injury.

    I saw a hand surgeon today and she says I will not regain sensation in the finger unless I have surgery and reattach the nerve endings. Even then, it could take years for the nerve to regenerate (if it ever does). As for mobility, she says it will come back to what it will be and the nerve surgery should not further impact mobility.

    Even though this was just three days ago, and the wound is being held together by stitches, I can gingerly play the guitar. The missing sensation from the finger tip makes it difficult to tell when that finger is on the finger board. (For example, an F bar chords "feels" the same as a Fmin bar chord whether I put down or lift up that fingertip from the fretboard).

    I am scheduled for surgery in two days. So my question is -- should I or shouldn't I get this done? I'm leaning toward doing it but I'd like to hear some other opinions.

    Do any of you suffer from dead nerve endings in your fingertips? I'd appreciate your thoughts on how it affects your playing.

    (I know this isn't specifically about "gear" but I also know more people read this section. Given my short turnaround time until surgery I posted it here to get the most initial views. If the moderator wants to move it to another section, I understand).

    Thanks - Archtop Eddy

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  3. #2

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    I think you should ignore any opinions on here and listen to the doctors! Nobody here will have any real knowledge about this unless they are a medical doctor! Even if someone 'thinks' they know, odds are that there are enough unique facts to your situation like your age etc to make the comparison worthless. Personally, I would like to retain the feelings in my fingertips...I can tell you that! But that doesn't make it the correct choice since one must also consider the risks of any surgery.

    Good luck! Listen to the medical professionals!

  4. #3

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    The only thing I'd say is, apparently, unnecessary. That is, have an appropriately trained hand surgeon do the surgery if you go ahead with it. Apparently, other surgeons sometimes do hand surgery, but, according to a doctor I trust, the specific training hand surgeons receive is worth something.

    If there isn't a real rush, you might consider a second opinion from another hand surgeon.

    I saw three hand surgeons for opinions about some issues with my thumbs. There was a good deal of variation in they way they did the exams and the treatment they recommended.

  5. #4

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    Ed, sorry that this happened and I hope you make a full recovery.

    If I had a similar situation and the docs told me that without surgery, there was no chance of improvement and that with surgery there was a 10 percent chance of improvement, I would do the surgery. They have made great advances in micro surgery to repair and reattach nerves in recent years and this does not seem like the sort of surgery that has any significant risk.

    My 2 cents for what is worth, after all, while I have a Doctorate degree (JD), it ain't in medicine.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  6. #5

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    ?I wish you the best of luck.

  7. #6

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    Wishing you all of the luck!

    I had a similar situation about two years ago. While making dinner I slipped and ran my down the length of a chef's knife. It sliced the base of my thumb, right where it meets the webbing and severed my flexor tendon, meaning I could no longer bend my left thumb at the first knuckle. I ended up having surgery. The tendon had snapped back and they had to retrieve it from the middle of my forearm. It sucked for a few months during rehab, but ultimately it was well worth it.

    I know that's not exactly what you're going through, but things worked out for me and I hope the same happens for you. Good luck and keep us all posted!
    On the Turntable: Wes Montgomery - Back on Indiana Avenue, Paul Motion Trio - It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago
    Guitar:
    Fender AVRI '59 w/ TI Swing 11s and Tyson Tone pickups
    Through: Polytone Mini Brute II

  8. #7

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    Holy hell, man, listen to coolvinny.

    You might consider a second opinion from a doctor, but you should not consider any opinions from the Internet. Even this one.
    Jay

    'boobadoobadoobaooababop!'

  9. #8

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    I'd ask you why wouldn't you get it done?

    It's a low risk procedure and the nerve is highly unlikely to regenerate on it's own if you've transected it ( it would need the ends of the sheath to have been correctly aligned ). It will take awhile to regenerate after the procedure.

    Best of luck with it.

  10. #9

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    oh man..terrible story...best of luck..hope you are able to make a wise decision

    any day any one of us can play our beloved guitars unencumbered by hand and/or health issues is a blessing...(or whatever else you want to call it...)

    all the best

    cheers

  11. #10

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    Sorry for your situation.

    I'd try to find a hand doctor who specialized with musicians. I'll bet there is at least one in the Denver area.
    I guarantee the Denver Symphony string players will know. Best of Luck and God Bless

  12. #11

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    Thanks everyone for your inputs. As coolvinny so wisely noted, "Listen to the medical professionals." And I will do just that and undertake the surgery on Wednesday. I think I just needed someone to talk to about this that could understand the trepidation and urgency I feel as a guitarist and you guys were who I turned to. I'm just a bit jumpy about it, but I know the right answer is to get the procedure done. Your answers have helped me to find comfort in my decision. I will keep you all abreast on how it goes.

  13. #12

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    A second opinion from another surgeon might be appropriate, but ransom strangers on the internet is not an appropriate source for reliable information about anything, and especially medical issues. Listen to the doctors, and then make your own decision. I would almost certainly have the surgery, but I'm not you, and I'm not a doctor. Nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, or any night.

  14. #13
    Wish you luck. I would definitely get a second opinion at least before surgery. If I learned anything from guitar related hand problems over the years is to talk to proper professionals, although sometimes the differences in their treatment suggestions would be confusing. I had nerve entrapment a few years back, had two fingers go numb in my picking hand. Managed to avoid surgery and when I saw I was in a healing situation I started playing again. It took about 18 months for it to completely go away, but I could play normally during that period. We find a way.

    Also, two weeks ago my car door completely closed getting my picking hand index finger caught by accident (the nail area). Now I can play, but I couldn't hold a pick for that period, and probably it will take a few months to be able to play fingerstyle with this finger. Nail might still drop off, it is black and all. You said you can also play, so at least it is not a devastating injury. Get the best medical treatment you can, and adjust from there. Best of luck!

  15. #14

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    S
    Quote Originally Posted by archtopeddy View Post
    Hi fellas. I had a freak accident while heading to a gig this weekend. A rock fell down a mountain ledge and smashed into my car, knocking out my passenger window with a gun-shot like blast. In my panic, I reached out toward the broken glass and seriously cut my fingering hand "birdie" finger (on the joint between the birdie and the ring finger). The cut was deep in the artery and severed the nerve running by the artery causing loss of all sensation in that side of the finger -- finger tip on down.

    Sorry for the gory details, but I want you to understand the nature of my injury.

    I saw a hand surgeon today and she says I will not regain sensation in the finger unless I have surgery and reattach the nerve endings. Even then, it could take years for the nerve to regenerate (if it ever does). As for mobility, she says it will come back to what it will be and the nerve surgery should not further impact mobility.

    Even though this was just three days ago, and the wound is being held together by stitches, I can gingerly play the guitar. The missing sensation from the finger tip makes it difficult to tell when that finger is on the finger board. (For example, an F bar chords "feels" the same as a Fmin bar chord whether I put down or lift up that fingertip from the fretboard).

    I am scheduled for surgery in two days. So my question is -- should I or shouldn't I get this done? I'm leaning toward doing it but I'd like to hear some other opinions.

    Do any of you suffer from dead nerve endings in your fingertips? I'd appreciate your thoughts on how it affects your playing.

    (I know this isn't specifically about "gear" but I also know more people read this section. Given my short turnaround time until surgery I posted it here to get the most initial views. If the moderator wants to move it to another section, I understand).

    Thanks - Archtop Eddy

    Surgery.

    Ive had two pretty bad hand injuries (break and a bad cut), and I can play this shit out of a guitar. However the cut was a big scare. Honestly thought I would never play at my level again. But it healed, and I’m better than ever.

    However

    i missed the big nerves. I cut the micro nerve (I believe) and eventually the feeling all came back. That’s what the doctor said would happen.

    if the doc told you it won’t come back, he’s probably right.

    Get the surgery, work hard for a year and a half. You’ll be ok.


    best wishes

  16. #15

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    I won't give you advice as to whether or not to have the surgery. That is best left to a qualified hand surgeon. That said, I will relate my experience. 18 years ago I severed the tendon and nerves in my left hand (fretting) ring finger at the base of the finger in an area hand surgeons called at the time the "No Man's Land". I severed all the digital nerves and the tendon when cut snapped back to the base of my palm necessitating a zig zag shaped incision that ran from the base of my finger to the base of the palm.

    The tendon and nerves were reattached by a very good hand surgeon who I was extremely fortunate to find in a small town like Savannah GA. Had this happened 10 years earlier , I most likely would never have use of the finger. Today, surgeons are better equipped regarding micro surgery. Despite having the digital nerves reattached, I never fully regained feeling at the end of my finger tip. It improved over the past 18 years but not at 100%. Unfortunately in my case, I never regained full use of my finger and due to a build up of scar tissue in the tendon sheath, this finger is bent at 15 degree angle from the knuckle closest to the palm. It is really amazing how one's body is spatially aware of it's space. For several years afterwards I was always catching this finger on closing doors etc until my body/mind became adjusted to the finger protruding.

    I did a lot of very painful hand therapy after surgery which was more painful than the cut or post surgery healing. So follow to the T whatever your hand therapist/ hand surgeon advises. If it was me I would definitely get the surgery as I know how much of a of a inconvenience it is playing guitar with out feeling at the tip. In my case the whole experience forced me to change everything regarding my playing the instrument and caused me a lot of mental anguish until I finally accepted the fact that I wouldn't ever play the same way again. I'm not saying that will happen to you, but stay positive and adapt.

    One result of the hand problem i.e. the bent finger is that I have had to have guitar built with wider string spacing. Because my ring finger can't approach the string dead on from above but instead off at a slant I found I needed a wider spacing to give me a little more room so that the underside of my ringer finger didn't hit the other string. I visited a very qualified hand surgeon two years ago to see if he could improve on the range of motion and flexibility and he said he couldn't do anything and I was lucky to have the range of motion that I had considering where the injury took place.

    I had bought a brand new GBAA just 3 months prior to the accident and it was delivered about 3 months after the injury and for nearly a year all I could do was basically look at it. One thing that kept me going when I contemplated quitting for good was to keep in mind the greats like Django Reinhardt or Pat Martino whom came back from worse and kept their flame alive. Good luck. rob

  17. #16

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    Follow the advice of the doctor. Get a second, doctor's opinion if you want to.

    We'll tell you what guitar to buy, how to play a 12-bar blues, etc. Otherwise, what we got ain't worth spit.

  18. #17

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    +1 for a second opinion from another surgeon, hand specialist, orthopedist etc. There could be some conflict of interest sometimes with surgeons. They tend to be a bit too eager for surgery. It's like asking a musician, "Should I have live music in my wedding and hire you or you think it's not necessary?"
    Of course they aren't lying but there might be other options.
    Hope you recover quickly.

  19. #18

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    you should get it fixed you should get opinions from several surgeons. I knew a coworker that didn't have feeling part of his hand and he often had trouble with injuring that part of his hand, a lot of burns because he couldn't feel how hot something was in that area.

  20. #19

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    I see that you are from Manitou Springs. I am up in Vail. I had some major surgery on my right hand. (I looked like Edward Scissor Hands from all the steel rod sticking out of my hand.)

    The surgeon I used is excellent and specializes in hands. I would recommend him without question. The group he is with are also great surgeons. One great thing about them is they all listen. (I have also had knee, shoulder and ankle surgery.)

    If you decide on surgery, let me know if you are interested in talking to them. (Vail-Summit Orthopedics.)

  21. #20

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    As others have said, and you've acceded to, please follow your doctor's recommendation. If you have time to get a second opinion, that 's also a good idea.

    Also, ask about potential residual issues or side effects of any surgical procedure.

    Ask about post surgery physical therapy. PT is often the most important aspect of recovery.

    Ask about medications that can help with your recovery. Often with nerve damage, physicians recommend Gabapentin. Read up on this and ANY other medication she recommends.

    Gabapentin Oral : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing - WebMD

    Finally, check with your health insurance carrier to be sure you are covered for all possible issues.

    Stay positive and...
    Good luck.

  22. #21

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    Oh man, sorry to hear that Eddy! I hope you are back to full capacity in no time! Let us know how the surgery goes as well as the recovery.
    Doug Martin
    www.dougmartinguitar.com

    "Live life and play music like it's your last day on earth. One day you'll be right" - Russel Malone

  23. #22

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    Sorry to hear about this. Best of luck!
    Best regards, k

  24. #23

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    Best of luck...besides the advice given above I would ask your Dr. if he/she done your particular surgery many times before. If not perhaps look for one who has.

  25. #24

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    Hey fellas,

    Here's a follow-up on my hand surgery. (I hate it when threads like this one drop out without conclusions)

    First, I want to say THANKS! to everyone for their suggestions and support. It meant a lot to me.

    Now the bottomline: The finger surgery went well; recovering nicely.

    The finger surgery involved inserting a 1 cm "tube" between the severed nerve endings in my middle finger. At the slow rate of repair, it could take two years before I'll know if the surgery works. Something obvious to many people but not to me was that the nerve ending will only grown from one end to the other, meaning from the nerve end in my hand to the severed end in my fingertip.

    Meanwhile, I have no feeling on half of the tip and down the inside edge of the finger between the middle finger and the ring finger. The injury is on my right hand and since I'm a lefty it is on the hand I use on my fretboard. Some chords and solo techniques feel weird and some require minor fingering adjustment, but as a whole I can't complain. I have most of the mobility back and about 85 percent of my previous playing skills.

    Following this injury, I realized how much of my playing is based on super subtle finger sensations and movements. The relationship between muscle memory and nerve sensation is fascinating. Without the nerve sensation, when I place my finger in the right spot on the neck I still have these micro-moments of hesitation and doubt. I think I will get used to this in time, but for now it's like taking a hike with a pebble in a shoe: I'll get the walk done, but I'll think about the pebble the entire way.

    I've played several gigs including a four hour Gypsy Jazz gig, played at several practices and played many more hours at home. The finger has handled it all just fine and keeps getting better. Funny, but the harder thing for me to do is typing on a keyboard...

    (It's not as bad as it looks!)
    Attached Images Attached Images Hand injury: Surgery or Not?-ae-missing-finger-jpg 

  26. #25

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    Thanks for the update Ed. It has been a long time since you, me and Ross Bliss jammed for hours at the Langley Motel. It is good news that a strong player like yourself is able to work through a major obstacle and keep the jazz guitar going strong.

    Here's hoping that you make a full and fast recovery!
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  27. #26

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    Great news to hear and go with the proper rehab. Seems that playing the guitar like many athletic endeavors is very similar. Given the proper motivation and patience you can go a long way. Since it is Easter Sunday I would suggest prayer if helpful, even better if you are a Catholic have the priest anoint you, even after the surgery is ok you got a ways to go. What the human can do is so incredible you wonder who thought up all the movements it can do.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  28. #27

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    Thanks fellas. Really appreciate the support and I agree deacon Mark I have a lot for which to be thankful.

    And Marc (Stringswinger), it was your thoughts about the improvements in micro surgery and that even with a 10 percent chance of recover it was worth looking at the surgery. Those were important deciding points for me. And thanks for the compliments about my playing! Yeah, I miss those days at the Langley Motel -- and remember those great warm-from-the-oven cookies?

  29. #28

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    Very glad to hear of the successful procedure!
    Best regards, k

  30. #29

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    Yes, thanks for the followup and glad to hear that your playing.

  31. #30

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    Good move. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! When I think of hand injuries and guitar players, I think of Django. It's the kind of inspiration that helped me push though a finger injury 25 years ago. You play with what you've got, a lot of which is in the heart and soul!

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by skykomishone View Post
    Good move. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! When I think of hand injuries and guitar players, I think of Django. It's the kind of inspiration that helped me push though a finger injury 25 years ago. You play with what you've got, a lot of which is in the heart and soul!
    +1.

    Aside from the obvious example of Django, I also came to think about Lester Youngs solo on Billie Holidays "Fine and Mellow" from the Sounds of Jazz 1957 television show. Lester was ill, short of breath, in bad shape fitness wise and clearly had problems blowing any kind of powerful tone. For all the other music recorded at that day, he laid out. Nevertheless, with few notes and low key dynamics he played one chorus of the bluest blues saturated with honesty, heart and soul - and Billie Holidays facial expressions while he played reflected that. It's still moving to hear and see today 62 years later.

    Last edited by oldane; 04-22-2019 at 10:01 AM.
    "But if they all play like me, then who am I?" (Lester Young)

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldane View Post
    +1.

    Aside from the obvious example of Django, I also came to think about Lester Youngs solo on Billie Holidays "Fine and Mellow" from the Sounds of Jazz 1957 television show. Lester was ill, short of breath, in bad shape fitness wise and clearly had problems blowing any kind of powerful tone. For all the other music recorded at that day, he laid out. Nevertheless, with few notes and low key dynamics he played one chorus of the bluest blues saturated with honesty, heart and soul - and Billie Holidays facial expressions while he played reflected that. It's still moving to hear and see today 62 years later.

    Oh, so true Oldane. So true. In my mind, this short solo is one of the great moments in recorded music.

  34. #33

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    Good to hear you're back playing. Best wishes sent.

  35. #34

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    Great news, glad to hear that you're recovering and actually playing the guitar! Godspeed.