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Adapting around a hand injury

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bruiser Stone, Oct 10, 2020.


  1. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Tennessee
    On Sept 28, I injured my right index finger and accompanying knuckle. This is my plucking hand. I heard something pop down in the knuckle, and soon thereafter the swelling, tenderness, and diminished finger movement followed. I could move it up and down, but when making a grip, the index would collapse into the middle finger. A visit to the local quick clinic for xrays produced no evidence of fractures. They said I probably just jammed it really bad and that in a week or so I should notice significant improvement.

    The following Sunday, the swelling continued, and though the pain and stiffness subsided throughout the week, that morning when I was to play, all the symptoms worsened. Our pianist is also a local surgeon. He looked at it and said get more xrays from my regular physician. I toughed out the service Jamerson-ing my songs with the index curled up next to my middle finger like a hook. A couple of quick riffs were difficult, but overall, I got the job done.

    I went in for my appointment a couple of days ago and the second round of xrays still showed no fractures. But my primary care doc said it’s probably a partial tendon tear across the outside of the index knuckle, something that doesn’t merit surgery but requires proper healing with a brace and taking it easy for 5-6 weeks. By “taking it easy” I asked if that meant not playing my bass at all. He said yes initially, but then he qualified this opinion that I could if I found another way around using my right index finger and if I will stop playing if I feel any discomfort.

    I found that I can manage with my middle and ring fingers alternating just like my index-middle normally would. It doesn’t feel quite the same, but so long as I’m not doing anything exotic, it works. I’m also trying to incorporate my thumb more than I have in the past. Pick play seems to be out because of the gripping issues. I’ve also put on lighter-gauge strings.

    My problem is: am I adding to my toolbox of tricks by adapting around my injury, or will I potentially hinder my technique moving everything a digit over? I do intend to cut way back on my practice/noodling time to only what is necessary to prepare for Sunday mornings. I hate to tell them I’ll be out for a month and a half, especially with so few gigging opportunities available right now. Almost all of the congregation attends via Facebook live streaming, so it’s a very safe, low-stress opportunity to keep up with other musicians in a consistent band context. I would identify myself as an intermediate-level player after 3 years taking up the instrument if this is relevant.

    5-6 weeks isn’t very long, but I am addicted to bass. It would be very difficult for me not to play at all. It’s how I decompress away from my office.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2020
  2. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I think you're just adding to your toolbox of tricks, and you'll have no problem readjusting when you're healed. Plus, once you get that ring finger used to plucking, you'll have a head start on adding three-finger-plucking to your repertoire. (I don't use that technique myself, but a lotta players swear by it.)
     
  3. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    0000_1.jpg

    glad it's temporary! good luck! :thumbsup:
     
    Bruiser Stone likes this.
  4. Tom Bomb

    Tom Bomb Hypocognitive Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2014
    Your doc's the one to follow. Be sure to rest it. It has to heal. It takes time. That's your focus. Get a second opinion but you'll most likely get a similar assessment.

    Good luck with it. Thumbs up ;) Never underestimate the thumb, if ya can swing it :ninja:
     
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Adapting won't hurt anything.

    Go see an orthopedics doctor. If your health is such that you can handle it, get a quick course of steroids to help heal it.

    I crushed my right hand a few years back. I landed on it sideways with all my weight. Like you X-rays turned up nothing. But the pain and swelling lingered for weeks.

    I did a lot of reading and research. I asked a lot of questions of doctor friends of mine. Then I went back to the orthopedics doctor and asked him to try me on a short course of steroids. 72 hours in my hand was healed. Period.

    Other health issues could cause you to be a bad candidate for steroids.

    I'm not a doctor. So consult yours. But it worked for me.
     
    Bruiser Stone likes this.
  6. I had a half my fingernail on my middle finger ripped off a few years back and had to adapt. Luckily, I had switched to thumb picks previously and that proved to be helpful. They stick on, require very little finger strength to keep stable and sound great. I still use thumbpicks as it allows me to switch between pick and fingers whenever I want, even mid-song. You can even trim them down to whatever length you prefer. I use these:
    418dRF9OK9L._SL500_AC_SS350_.jpg
     
  7. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Tennessee
    I love the thumb tone but I’ve had some difficulty landing it accurately on anything but the E. Perhaps this is my golden opportunity to work it out. The middle-ring approach still fatigues the index just in holding it up and out of the way, but the thumb feels safe. Any tips or suggested exercises?
     
  8. I 2nd the thumb pick. All you can do, for now, is let the fingers heal. You MUST rest them.
     
    Carl Hillman and Bruiser Stone like this.
  9. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Tennessee
    I may go for an ortho exam if the swelling and stiffness persists in another 1-2 weeks. I’m otherwise very healthy for my age, and I’ve had steroids for other ailments. But for now, I think I’ve talked myself into taking a break from church just to be safe. I’m not a pro musician and I don’t think anyone is vying for my position. It’s hurting even more since I posted this thread, but this could be attributed to bad weather moving in today.

    Thanks for opining on technique and adaptation. I may still practice very lightly and focus on comfortably using my thumb in the interim if it feels ok doing so.
     
    DrThumpenstein and two fingers like this.
  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Be careful. A couple of years ago, I broke that same finger, and altered my technique, because I had just joined a busy band, and didn't want to lose my spot

    My technique is still messed up.
     
    Bruiser Stone likes this.
  11. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Tennessee
    I still have some from my misspent efforts a few years ago learning guitar. I’ll try both the thumb-pick and pick-less approach and see what works. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2020
    Guild B301 likes this.
  12. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I've been incorporating a lot more thumb plucking into my playing. It really is a different sound. It sort of grabs a little bit from fingers plucking and a little bit from picking and moxes then together. Plus it's easy to go from the meaty side of your thumb for more thump to the "corner" for more attack. I can't believe I waited so many years to put that arrow in my quiver.

    Here's to a quick recovery!
     
    Bruiser Stone likes this.
  13. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Tennessee
    Thanks for the words of experience. A few weeks seems a small price to pay. I’m kind of glad I’m not in the position you were in. My heart would’ve probably led me to make the same decision you made to keep my spot.
     
  14. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Oh, and Turmeric Curcumin. It's a great, natural, anti inflammatory supplement.

    And kill sugar for a while. Sugar is terribly inflammatory.
     
    Bruiser Stone likes this.
  15. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Tennessee
    I appreciate the tips. My wife buys natural herbs/oils/remedies, so I’ll find out if she has any in stock or can order some.

    As for sugar...let’s just say at least with Covid, I won’t be tempted by my kids’ trick-or-treating haul this year. Otherwise, I’ll try....
     
    two fingers likes this.
  16. I'd far rather deal with a 5-6 week time-to-heal than I would deal with a not-as-good-as-it-used-to-be finger from here on out. Be smart. We're surrounded right now by a lot of people who are (or were . . . . ) in a hurry to get back to normal regardless of the situation around them, to unfortunately dire results. Don't be that guy !
     
  17. 9Thumbs

    9Thumbs

    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    Took a while but I have no problem playing electric. Upright technique isn't optimal, but I get by O.K. Don't worry, you'll be fine soon enough. Sorry about the too big picture

    IMG_1885.jpg
     
    OogieWaWa likes this.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I knew a guy ages ago who played with a prosthetic pick, his band was called Outta Hand Band, not sure if I'm spelling it correctly.
    Anyway, it's a great opportunity to take your lemons and make vodka with a lemon wedge on a dish next to the glass of vodka. Use your outer 2 fingers and build them up. You will be glad later.
     
    OogieWaWa and Bruiser Stone like this.
  19. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Tennessee
    I’m taking your advice. Thanks!
     
    Tom Bomb likes this.
  20. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Tennessee
    :wideyed: Now that’s making it work!
     
    Son of Wobble likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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