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  1. #1

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    Is there a doctor in the house?


    For most of this year I've suffered from pain in my left-hand index finger. For the first four months or so it was extremely sensitive to cold - cold water especially. Truly agonising. But I got by through always using warm water. There was no pain at other times, and I could play guitar without a problem.


    Then recently that disappeared, to be replaced by swelling, stiffness, and constant awareness that if I moved it a certain way, or banged it, the pain would be intense. I can now only play for 30 minutes or so a day.


    I'll go to my doctor, who might refer me to a specialist, but I'd like some ideas first of what might be going on so I can discuss it intelligently. So if any of you have specific experience and advice, I'd be happy to hear from you.

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  3. #2

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    No idea, Rob - but I hope that you can get this sorted out soon and it's nothing serious....Best of luck!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A long journey starts with the first step...and although I have long forgotten about my destination I'm still enjoying the journey.

  4. #3

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    Sorry to hear this, Rob!

    Well, we'd need much more information about your finger pain, its exact location and trigger, the swelling, restriction of motion (functio laesa), pre-existing condition, etc., to be able to guide you to the most precise diagnosis, sine qua non for any efficient therapy, if necessary. Even then, you can describe the painting of the Mona Lisa, or look at it in the original. You understand the difference …

    In the German Banana Republic, as a doctor, you still move in a legal gray area when giving individual medical support online. Nevertheless, we can and do assist as far as possible. I'd google some pics of 'index finger anatomy' and try at least to localise your finger problem, which according to your current information suggests an inflammation of unspecific or unclear kind, presumably starting from the MCJ, middle or end joint.

    Sure it would be the best to see a specialist, but I know these are unfortunately not wider spread than fine archtop guitars … Best wishes!

  5. #4

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    Ah, we do have a doctor in the house. Excellent. I'll be as specific as I can.

    Left-hand index. Middle joint. Not sure of it's the flexor digitorum profundis tendon or the collateral ligament. When I bend the finger, the top part between middle and tip joints feels tight and a little painful.

  6. #5

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    Pre-existing condition: never had a problem until the start of this year, with pain when in contact with cold water. Otherwise I could still play without pain.

  7. #6

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    See your doctor, they should take hand injuries seriously. My wife injured her finger recently and the doctor got her seen by a consultant very quickly. The NHS website says hand injuries should be looked at soon as possible.

  8. #7

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    Thanks. Managed to get an appointment for early tomorrow morning...

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    … Managed to get an appointment for early tomorrow morning...

    Great! So the first step would be the differentiation between hand maladies afflicting the joints, or not.
    The big problem dealing with such discomforts, on an online basis, is that the tactile sense, the feeling of the sliding tissues and anatomical structures is missing. In addition, anatomical structures are related to each other or can even interfere with structures at a distance. Then, there is often a considerable number of misunderstandings between the patient's / doctor's communication.

    According to the information given above by Rob I'd suspect the main problem area of his index could be on the palmar side, not primarily joint-related, more between the PIP and DIP joints. Might well be the area of the insertion of the deep flexor digitorum tendon / tendon sheath and the A4 annular pulley. However, both the deep and the superficial flexor tendons have one tendon sheath in common. The A4 pulley is nothing but one of the many annular reinforcements of the tendon sheath, though it is important: without the A2 and A4 pulleys the finger tips can't be actively bent down to touch the palm wrinkle, even with fully intact flexor tendons. The tendons and their sheath is provided with a tender soft tissue called Tenosynovium, essential for a low-friction movement of the tendons and their nutrition by diffusion. Any problem there will result in local swelling, pain and other inflammation signs.

    The collateral ligaments are lateral reinforcements of the joint capsules. They commonly react in combination with a joint affection. If there was never an adequate trauma or a rheumatoid disorder, the collateral ligaments should be ok.

    Since educated patients (docs too) are always and anywhere preferred (the first at least being less prone to medical quackeries), here some anatomical illustrations for the OP:

    Finger Pain-anatomy-finger-extension-lateral-view-jpgFinger Pain-anatomy-finger-collateral-annular-cruciform-pulleys-ligaments-jpgFinger Pain-anatomy-hand-flexor-tendon-sheaths-jpg

  10. #9

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    That's great, Ol' Fret! I might even take that along to the doc. I think you might be right about the PIP and DIP connection, and it is indeed almost impossible to curve the finger to meet the palm crease. Actually, none of my RIGHT-hand fingers can do that either, but I don't seem to have a problem playing.

    So, what's the solution other than ibuprofen?

  11. #10

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    Rob - best wishes for a resolution of your finger pain. My own case was no fun and in any case has been well controlled for many years now. Do take care!
    Best regards, k

  12. #11

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    Thanks, k. Appreciated. I'm glad yours is manageable now.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    ... it is indeed almost impossible to curve the finger to meet the palm crease. Actually, none of my RIGHT-hand fingers can do that either, but I don't seem to have a problem playing.

    So, what's the solution other than ibuprofen?

    Don't worry! The range of joint / muscle motion is an individual thing - medicine tends to think in statistical numbers. Comparing individual qualities to the average is sometimes unrewarding, only leading to upset. Not everyone can play guitar that well as you do with your hands … or as Django Reinhardt did.
    Many different smaller and larger muscles are responsible for the power of finger joint motion: Motion of the Fingers - Hand - Orthobullets
    If the joints, tendons and tendon sheaths are allowing, simple active hand exercises can help: HB Hands: Tendon Glide Exercises


    It's good to see a doctor; only he/she will tell if a medical treatment is promptly inevitable. The big rest of disorders will heal by nature, or by a gentle corriger la nature; of course, the application of anti-inflammatory substances will be the first choice.

  14. #13

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    Thanks again, Ol' Fret. I'll see the GP armed with at least a little understanding.

  15. #14

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    If it's OA, Voltaren Gel works wonders for me. It's a NSAID, but very little is absorbed into the bloodstream given that it's topical and applied to very limited areas. I have been advised to rub a little on every four hours - if playing. Otherwise I don't need it at all.

    There may be a few over-the-counter alternatives, perhaps less strong (Blue Emu? I don't know). Also, Voltaren Gel is over the counter in some countries.

    You may also want to consider lighter, lower tension strings. And, you should ensure that your nut slots and action are not set too high.


    Good luck!

  16. #15

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    Well, the doc has organised an x-ray and a blood test - she wants to cover all bases. Thinks it's probably osteoarthritis.

  17. #16

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    Voltaren Gel is ok. If conventionally applied, most of the superficially applied gel is metabolized in the cutis and subcutis. To bring it effectively and deeper to soft tissues and joint structures, you can put it under an "occlusion" bandage, before going to bed: rub the gel gently into the skin over the painful structures for one or two minutes, put one more dose on the skin, cover the whole with a household foil, finally a gauze bandage around the limb. Remove the bandage the next morning.
    Don't do this if you're allergic to one of the ingredients of Voltaren gel or if you have a very sensitive skin, neurodermatitis, etc.!!

    Anti-inflammatory drugs should be taken in recommended dose. The body (liver, kidneys) tolerates it much better if it gets a pharmacologically effective dose for eight days, than ineffective reduced dose over several months. This applies the more if you have to take in cortisone: better to apply really strong initial dose (so scaring in popular belief - indeed it isn't ), then reduce gradually and as fast as the clinical and laboratory findings allow.

    Since the OP seems to have a concomitant cold temperature sensivity, which might be sort of a neurovascular reaction, before playing it could help to put the fingers into a warm substrate like sand or rice or whatever is available, and move the fingers around for a some minutes. The Scottish Highlands are lovely and certainly musically inspiring, but maybe would a move to Florida or, at least, South Italy, help also ...

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    Well, the doc has organised an x-ray and a blood test - she wants to cover all bases. Thinks it's probably osteoarthritis.
    Well, statistically, in most cases such discomforts are joint related; let's see what the x-ray shows.
    If this is also the case here, it proves once more that online medical communication is often vague and, um, a bit unproductive.

    Most of us older persons will show radiological and clinical signs of finger joint osteoarthitis (consider it a normal fact of life). Many will suffer from short periods of discomfort for this reason, though most people find a healthy way to get around minor ailments. So much musicians showed a very respectable performance even being in their eighties or nineties - just think of Mundell Lowe (RIP).

    Good luck!

  19. #18

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    Thanks again, Ol' Fret. We have no plans for moving to Florida, haha. I've taken to immersing my hands in very warm water for a minute or so before playing, and find it does help for a while.

    I'm imagining I will suffer from such ailments over the coming years, but as long as I can keep playing at least for myself, I'd be happy with that. I don't do concerts or recordings these days, just a few videos from home. That will continue, I'm sure.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    I've taken to immersing my hands in very warm water for a minute or so before playing, and find it does help for a while.
    I believe Segovia used to do that before playing, I'm sure I read that somewhere.

  21. #20

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    Well, he WAS one of my students...ahem...

  22. #21

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    Well you did a good job...I understand he became quite successful.

  23. #22

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    As a person with pinched nerves that almost ended my playing days and a family history of arthritis, I can say that getting to the bottom of it with a doctor is the right thing to do. Along your path of exploring this I also suggest you look into all the self help methods to keep you body in playing condition. Heat pads, stretching, etc. are all little things that can extend your life on the instrument.

    Best of luck on this.

  24. #23

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    I fractured my LH pinky about seven years ago, and since it was the least of my problems at the time, never got it looked at.
    I just played right through it.
    It started bothering me last year, so this time I went to a doc, and he said it was traumatic arthritis, and all i could do for it was take an ibuprofen before I played.
    I played a duo concert the next day and the ibuprofen worked very well. Since then, I haven't taken anything for it, even though I'm in the middle of a month where I've got 26 gigs. The pain is so familiar, that I think of it as part of my playing.

    However, I've got to do some recording 7/9 and the week of 7/16, and the pain prevents me from doing five fret stretches, so I'll take some ibuprofen before playing.
    If you get used to the pain, you can tolerate it up to a point, but if it prevents me from being free to do anything on a jazz recording, that's the tipping point

  25. #24

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    Good luck with that. I asked my doctor about ibuprofen, but she said paracetamol was easier on the stomach.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ol' Fret View Post
    Don't worry! The range of joint / muscle motion is an individual thing - medicine tends to think in statistical numbers. Comparing individual qualities to the average is sometimes unrewarding, only leading to upset. Not everyone can play guitar that well as you do with your hands … or as Django Reinhardt did.
    Many different smaller and larger muscles are responsible for the power of finger joint motion: Motion of the Fingers - Hand - Orthobullets
    If the joints, tendons and tendon sheaths are allowing, simple active hand exercises can help: HB Hands: Tendon Glide Exercises


    It's good to see a doctor; only he/she will tell if a medical treatment is promptly inevitable. The big rest of disorders will heal by nature, or by a gentle corriger la nature; of course, the application of anti-inflammatory substances will be the first choice.
    I've had lots of hand, finger and wrist issues and pretty much cleared them up with many of the exercises mentioned above. Including the ones with the weights and theraband. This was all done with a Dr's supervision

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ol' Fret View Post
    Voltaren Gel is ok. If conventionally applied, most of the superficially applied gel is metabolized in the cutis and subcutis. To bring it effectively and deeper to soft tissues and joint structures, you can put it under an "occlusion" bandage, before going to bed: rub the gel gently into the skin over the painful structures for one or two minutes, put one more dose on the skin, cover the whole with a household foil, finally a gauze bandage around the limb. Remove the bandage the next morning.
    Don't do this if you're allergic to one of the ingredients of Voltaren gel or if you have a very sensitive skin, neurodermatitis, etc.!!

    Anti-inflammatory drugs should be taken in recommended dose. The body (liver, kidneys) tolerates it much better if it gets a pharmacologically effective dose for eight days, than ineffective reduced dose over several months. This applies the more if you have to take in cortisone: better to apply really strong initial dose (so scaring in popular belief - indeed it isn't ), then reduce gradually and as fast as the clinical and laboratory findings allow.

    Since the OP seems to have a concomitant cold temperature sensivity, which might be sort of a neurovascular reaction, before playing it could help to put the fingers into a warm substrate like sand or rice or whatever is available, and move the fingers around for a some minutes. The Scottish Highlands are lovely and certainly musically inspiring, but maybe would a move to Florida or, at least, South Italy, help also ...
    It's more than "OK" for me. It keeps me playing, period.

    I don't have to do any of that bandage ritual that you mention either. And "before bed"? No, I don't play the guitar in my sleep. I apply it right before playing the guitar (well about 15 minutes prior, to let it dry and I rub off the side of my fingers with a wet washcloth to remove any stickiness, while leaving the gel over the top of the PIP or DIP joint). Good for 4 hours of playing, and can be repeated multiple times per day!

    This is precisely what my arthritis doctor advised. My family doctors were/are very good but ignorant about this topic. "Worthless" might be a good word to describe their "help" with this. So, I strongly advise seeing an arthritis doc if one has arthritis (Rheumatologist).

    In summary, if it's OA it's here to stay. We all know that one can't keep taking cortisone shots, and shouldn't rely on frequent and extended use of oral NSAIDS either. Those may be fine for an initial booster but then what? I love the warnings for continued use of oral NSAIDs - sudden death from your esophagus tearing itself in half, without warning. Nice.

    Some people say that Turmeric/Curcumin provides some minor relief as well. Can't say, might be worth a try.

    I have noticed that slinky stringed electric guitars are not much of a problem, but classicals with somewhat high action and archtops with 12s drive me to use the gel. Light strings and low action are something to keep in mind as you age....
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 07-05-2018 at 12:56 AM.

  28. #27

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    Hi Rob. I do hope you find a combination that works for you. Getting used to OA takes time in many cases, and it may have a somewhat ambulatory quality in the pain sector which is, in my case, difficult to understand, at least at times. I have used Ibuprofen, which I find does no better or worse compared to the other NSAID agents of comparative dose I have tried. I tried, several years ago, 5 or 6 of the most common brands in order to: 1. compare their effect, of which I found them all to be good, 2. to compare whether one was milder on the stomach in as I reacted with discomfort in a way that I imagine one has with an ulcer. As far as the second point is concerned, all of the med´s gave stomach discomfort of roughly comparative quality. I find that when forced to use ibuprofen now days, if I take a Omaprazol ( Losec) about an hour prior to the ibuprofen I no longer have discomfort. This may be a issue for you, and then it may not. An abrupt awakening to the effects of ageing, having to take a pill in order to take a pill.

  29. #28

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    Thanks, Ozoro. Yes, we have reached that age! Thanks for your top re Omaprazol, which I'll make a note of.

  30. #29

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    Rob, I have told this story here elsewhere but it is worth repeating.

    After 45 years of daily guitar playing without a lick of trouble, a little while back I found I was feeling a pain in the most distal joint of my left index finger. It only hurt when I made a particular motion where I held it to the finger board rather flat in order to move between notes on adjacent strings at the same fret, this only hurting when done above about the 15th fret...

    Since it came rather suddenly and was so specific to one finger joint, I looked for any changes in my routine that specifically involved this finger - basically I ran a little program in my mind's background to detect anytime I used that finger so I could stop and determine if I was doing something new.

    That little trap caught two new things; the first was that I had recently "repaired" my toilet so it would flush right, but the repair was incomplete and required me to hold down the flush lever for about 5 seconds to get the thing to work... good enough until I could revisit the problem someday and complete the fix... I was holding it down with my left index, not pushing very hard but slightly bending the joint backwards. I changed my flushing method to not stress anything and in a few days my finger was much better, but the joint still had a lingering ache.

    The little trap's second catch was noticing that I had switched coffee cups to a heavy porcelain one given to me by my niece as a birthday present - painted by her with my name, my guitar, etc. This cup was big and heavy but only had a small loop handle that I could only get one finger through - I drink left handed and that finger was my left index, bearing the weight and bending that joint. I switched back to lighter cups with bigger handles and in a few more days all was well.

    I guess the moral of this story is to check for any repetitive new things that might be stressing the fingers and eliminate the new stresses. I was lucky to find them and discover that once they were eliminated the issue disappeared altogether.

    Hope all is well for you and hope this helps anyone else that might find it.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  31. #30

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    Thanks for that, Paul. Appreciated. I'll have a good think. However, the problem dates back to January, with the initial pain on contact with cold water. And it does seem like I have osteoarthritis, though that's to be confirmed. We shall see.

  32. #31

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    I must admit to doubts about mentioning my problem online, but in doing so I've learned so much, and have heard quite a few similar stories from other players. So, any young player reading this far should learn a lesson: take care of your hands, keep vigilant, take preventative measures, and hopefully you will not have any of the problems mentioned here and elsewhere.

    The hands are very sensitive tools, so be sensitive to them.

  33. #32

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    Ibuprofen, naproxen, and others don't do much for my pain. What works best for me is what is sold as "migraine formula", which is a combination of aspirin, acetaminophen (paracetamol over there), and a touch of caffeine. Of course, YMMV, as different products work better with different people.

  34. #33

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    The best advice for younger or beginning players is to work on strengthening your hands before they start to go bad. It's good to do the exercises mentioned above as diligently as you practice playing. Take a tip from dancers. They all are constantly working on keeping in shape and all too often recovering from injuries. As guitar players our fingers are in effect dancing and the athletic aspects of being a musician can't be neglected. As an older player I am as concerned with maintaining my chops as much as I am the musical aspects. One thing I've learned is that as soon as I feel any real pain while playing I stop immediately. I'll rest for as long as necessary and do gentle exercises and stretches and won't resume playing until the pain is gone. Warming up with stretches and warm up exercises on the guitar before playing can help. And strengthening with the therabands and weights is important. If a joint has got problems strengthening the muscles around it can only help. All this should be done under the supervision of a health care professional. You don't want to ''do a
    Schumann''. He made a device with a string a weight and a pulley to increase the range of motion of the ring finger which naturally doesn't lift as high as the others. He over did it and seriously damaged his hands.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrcee View Post
    ...As guitar players our fingers are in effect dancing...
    I have often thought about that analogy. I also agree with your thoughts on conditioning, etc. One other thing is to make sure your guitar(s) are designed and set up for your own particulars. If all else fails, build a Tele out of parts. The combinations of everything that you can get for neck specs alone are probably in the many hundreds. The hardest part is figuring out what works best.

  36. #35

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    Mrcee, I take issue with only one thing you say: strength. We have far more strength that we need to play a properly set-up guitar. A baby could hold down a note on a guitar. What we need is suppleness. Think yoga, not body building...

  37. #36

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    Hi Rob!

    I had a serious tendonitis inflammation few years ago, also made a topic here about that, but I am too lazy to find it, what helped me is the website of this guy;

    Wrist Tendonitis Treatment - A Quick Fix

    You can find here everything what you need to fix your hand. He also mentions that he treated musicians, also.

    God Bless,

    MrBlues

  38. #37

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    Hey Rob,

    I love the crazy wide range of music and instruments that you delve into.
    If I were to live an alternate musical life, the path you have taken would be a fun one for sure.
    Hoping for a speedy solution and recovery so you can continue to actively pursue this crazy diverse musical
    life you've carved out for yourself.

    Best,
    bako

  39. #38

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    MrBlues - interesting link. I'll give it some attention. Thanks.

    Bako - thanks. It's often fun, but there are many times I wish I was one of those guys who has just one instrument, but plays it for life, really getting inside the instrument and it's repertoire. But, as Mae West once put it, I drifted...

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    Mrcee, I take issue with only one thing you say: strength. We have far more strength that we need to play a properly set-up guitar. A baby could hold down a note on a guitar. What we need is suppleness. Think yoga, not body building...
    I hear what your saying but strength doesn't necessarily mean brute strength. Muscle tone and conditioning maybe is a better concept. Yoga is strengthening but it's not a jock strap thing where the goal is to look like the Incredible Hulk and be able to lift weights. Lots of people with big strong hands can't play the guitar, and if they do take it up their strength doesn't help them much, at least at first. A physical therapist told me that there are large muscle groups and fine ones. I'm not sure about the fingers but many if not all joints have these fine muscles close to the bone. These fine muscles may be what in cattle are the filet mignon that is so prized for it's tenderness. The muscle along the animals spine. I understand that these fine muscles don't really get exercised with conventional weight lifting and other such obvious things but are really important to orthopedic health. Resistance exercise is what does it with things like the elastic bands. I don't know if a baby can hold down a note on a guitar, or for how long. I'll take your word for it. And holding down a note isn't playing a guitar. You've got to move your fingers and hand around. You watch a lot of really great guitarists play and their hands and fingers appear to be truly supple but yet some of these same people develop serious problems. If there was an easy answer to health problems we'd all live to be 120. And, conversely, a lot of big strong guys wipe out their backs doing physical labor because they don't have that suppleness you mention, and maybe they don't have well conditioned small, fine muscles. And we all hear about weak abdominal muscles being involved with back problems. I'm not a healthcare professional, maybe one can weigh in.

    My personal experience is having lots of finger and hand issues. I'm missing almost a half an inch off my left hand pinky which throws the geometry of my hand off setting me up for all kinds of problems. I once fell 5 feet and and broke my fall with my outstretched arm, landing on my hand injuring my left wrist. I had it x-rayed and it said it was a bad sprain but another Dr said maybe there was an invisible hairline fracture. It got better with time but not 100% until I started doing strengthening exercises. Now it's virtually completely fine. I've been unable to play too often from a variety of issues until I embarked on a program of stretching and strengthening, under the supervision of a Dr and physical therapist. I stretch first before the gentle strengthening exercises with the elastic bands and a small 2 lb. weight. If one of my hands isn't 100% I'll support it with the other while using the weight. Maybe just holding it or moving it very little. But I'll try and do something. I'm not sure but maybe part of the deal is to increase blood flow to the area.

    But one things for sure. Regardless of suppleness or strength or whatever if a person has an injury or a dysfunction like arthritis they need all the help they can get and do whatever it takes. And don't reinjure or aggravate it through continued playing. This notion that a person can ''work through'' their injury or condition by continuing to do what caused the problem seems foolish to me.
    Last edited by mrcee; 07-06-2018 at 10:45 AM.

  41. #40

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    Rob - if it's OA (meaning some thinning of the cartilage in your PIP and/or DIP joints) then yes, the first finger seems to take the brunt, then the middle, and so on.

    Another thing, if you play in the first/open position a fair amount, that will give the first finger a lot of extra stress it doesn't need, competing with the nut and all. I have met acoustic guitarists in their late 20s who were already complaining about their first finger pain (open position playing, heavy strings, high action, high tension)

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  42. #41

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    Well observed. I have to do a lot of C, F, G7 in open position with beginners, but am finding ways of playing those and others, D, D7, A, E, etc, without using the first finger when the student is too wrapped up in their own problems to notice mine. It's become quite an amusing game I play with myself.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    I've taken to immersing my hands in very warm water for a minute or so before playing, and find it does help for a while.
    Dissolve a quarter cup of Epsom Salts in the (very warm) water. Immerse your hands and gently massage and stretch them for about 5 mins. Then practice. Your hands will feel like they're 18 again !

  44. #43

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    Hope it is OK to revive this thread in the sense that someone may be able to help with my problem.

    In short, around 18 months ago I experienced trigger finger issues with the index finger of my right hand. After X-rays and echography ( revealing a minor old injury ) my doctor arranged a cortisone shot in the palm of the hand on the sheath. This worked fine for maybe seven or eight months. Earlier this year I found myself re-plumbing the pvc waste pipes under the kitchen sink and stupidly tightened the final ring/sleeve on the trap - with my right hand. Since then, my right finger will not fully straighten after say twenty minutes of playing and holding the pick between thumb and forefinger ( I hold the pick between thumb and tip of the finger ). The hand becomes inflamed and although icing +/- Ibuprufen can help they do nothing for continuing practice. The finger locks if I form a full fist. The doctor will not prescribe a second cortisone jab unless trigger finger returns.

    Yesterday, I consulted a chiropractor who manipulated hand,arm, shoulder and neck and there did seem to be some improvement. He instructed me to lay of playing or gripping anything for 36 hours and I see him again on Friday. Not totally convinced however, and wondering what to do next. Acupuncture perhaps.

    If anyone has a take on this I really would be grateful for their input.

    Many thanks.

    David

  45. #44

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    I have a similar condition to that of the OP. Nowadays, I perform on an a/e nylon string, using a pick. The low string tension has alleviated much of my left index finger pain.

    Sometimes if I'm feeling pain-free I play a 24-3/4 inch scale flat-top steel-string a/e with extra-light strings, .010 - .050 gauge. I've never been a low-action guy, but I'm into it now!

    I've had some nice archtop guitars - don't have one now - but am I right in thinking that extra-light strings won't hold an archtop guitar's floating bridge in place? Archtops are probably over for me now.

  46. #45

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    Light strings will hold the bridge in place just fine, but they may not drive the top for maximum volume and tone. Amplified, they should be ok.

  47. #46

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    A tip that might be relevant to someone.

    Rheumatologists will tell you that Vitamin D levels are involved with joint pain.

    You can't safely take it willy-nilly. But you can have your level checked and a deficiency, if any, treated.

    If your hands hurt, it's worth asking your doctor about.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ol' Fret View Post
    ...could help to put the fingers into a warm substrate like sand or rice or whatever is available, and move the fingers around for a some minutes. ...
    Anybody with any sense knows Porridge is the one true breakfast of champions - The OP himself has mentioned this in previous threads, when will the world wake up ?

    Hope it worked out...

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    That's great, Ol' Fret! I might even take that along to the doc. I think you might be right about the PIP and DIP connection, and it is indeed almost impossible to curve the finger to meet the palm crease. Actually, none of my RIGHT-hand fingers can do that either, but I don't seem to have a problem playing.

    So, what's the solution other than ibuprofen?
    There is a Gel - I have not tried it but works for many.

    It reduces inflammation but instead of taking it orally - it is applied directly to the joints - it works on joints near the surface - especially fingers .

    Higher blood levels are achieved by topical application in the target area - compared to oral and there's less side effects .

    The chemical name is Diclofenac Sodium ( not to be confused with the Song )
    made also as Voltaren Gel and other Generics with Diclofenac as active ingredient in 1% 2% 3% strengths.

    Prescription only in USA - everywhere else over the counter...

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtfree View Post
    I have a similar condition to that of the OP. Nowadays, I perform on an a/e nylon string, using a pick. The low string tension has alleviated much of my left index finger pain.

    Sometimes if I'm feeling pain-free I play a 24-3/4 inch scale flat-top steel-string a/e with extra-light strings, .010 - .050 gauge. I've never been a low-action guy, but I'm into it now!

    I've had some nice archtop guitars - don't have one now - but am I right in thinking that extra-light strings won't hold an archtop guitar's floating bridge in place? Archtops are probably over for me now.
    Thanks Thoughtfree - appreciated. However, I think that it is the 'act' of freezing the finger in a set position in order to grip the pick ( given my history of trigger finger ( previously released after a cortisone jab ) and internal injury ( indicated on x-rays ) ) over a period of 20 - 30 minutes that encourage it to adopt a fixed/non-straight attitude. Relieved by icing and exercise. Treating the inflammation with Turmeric ( prefer it to NSAIDS ) and arnica. Age, I guess!

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    A tip that might be relevant to someone.

    Rheumatologists will tell you that Vitamin D levels are involved with joint pain.

    You can't safely take it willy-nilly. But you can have your level checked and a deficiency, if any, treated.

    If your hands hurt, it's worth asking your doctor about.
    Many thanks RP. the doc prescribed this some time ago ( no connection with this problem and I take a small phial of the stuff every 3 months. Tested levels indicate that I am up to scratch in that department. I have now been told that it is to do with a flexor tendon but not sure if anything can be done about it other than surgery which I am reluctant to go with.