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busted my left index finger

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by x15, Apr 2, 2003.

  1. x15


    Feb 4, 2003
    New Delhi, India
    hey mike,
    i'm at beginner at the bass, and i've been givin it a lot of time every day,the result of which :- my left index finger's joint totally inflammed, and it hurts like ****. what do i do?

  2. takeout

    takeout Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Kansas City area
    REST IT. Seriously. Keep aggravating it without letting it heal and you'll only make it worse for yourself. I narrowly avoided hand surgery that could've ended my playing career simply by playing smarter instead of harder.


    1. Let the amp do the work. Don't try to match volumes with others by simply playing harder.

    2. Practice smart. Have a goal in mind (running scales, learning a song, etc.). If you haven't hit your mark in an hour or so, take a break. Relax your hands. Evaluate whether they feel okay to continue.

    3. If you hurt, STOP. Take a day or two off. Don't do permanent damage. You're not a "pussy" for doing this; you're smart. Ice it if it's swollen. If it keeps up, see a doctor.

    Bass is a physical instrument; you don't start off weightlifting by immediately trying to bench-press 400 lbs, so do the same here: work your way up.
  3. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    takeout pretty much covered it. If it hurts, odds are your doing something wrong. Play softer and take breaks when things start to hurt.
  4. Soft tissue injuries to the joints, especially the knuckles, can take a long time to heal. Be patient. I once smacked the same knuckle with a drumstic, and it took over a year before all the pain and swelling was out of it.
  5. dude:
    I am no doctor but here's my $0.02:

    1. anti-inflamation medicine (aspirin, tylenol, alleve) helps injured joints/tendons/muscles heal.

    2. ice helps control swelling.

    3. immobilization and splinting helps (especially while sleeping).

    4. once your finger starts to heal up, a blue handball or cheap pink rubber ball can be used to increase hand and forearm strength (I keep one in my car and work it while driving...someday, I'll get Popeye forearms and a Bruce Lee vice-like grip.)

    5. See a doctor if things don't get better: a doctor can prescribe industrial strength anti-inflamatory medication, and maybe even antibiotics if there is an infection going on.

    6. wear gloves when it's cold out. I wear fingerless gloves for outdoor winter activities (like bass playin' in the garage)...and I wear full blown ski gloves when I'm out hiking in the cold.

    7. I use a little balm: icy hot, flexall 454, bengay, or tiger balm...even a little mentholatum...it helps increase finger dexterity and soothes pain...(IMPORTANT NOTE: DON'T try this if you already have inflamation...it can make your INFLAMATION WORSE by increasing bloodflow to the affected area!)

    8. MOST IMPORTANTLY: TAKE IT EASY! If it hurts, rest it. Our hands are delicate machines, and bass playin' is tough work. You only have two hands, so treat them like they have to last a lifetime. Pushing a injured hand beyond it's capabilities can lead to PERMANENT INJURY AND DISABILITY!

    good luck, and please let us know how this situation turns out,
    David P
  6. takeout

    takeout Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Kansas City area
    Dave - a word of warning on #4... don't overdo it. It can be a fast track to carpal tunnel hell. "Squeezing" exercises only work one side of your arm; you need to work the other side to maintain balance. Here's how: Take a rubber band and wrap it around your fingertips. Then, open your fingers (and thumb) outward, against the resistance of the rubber band. This works the complementary muscle group of the "squeezing" muscles in your arm, and opens up your carpal tunnel.
  7. takeout:

    thanks for the cool advice...the rubberband exercise you describe sounds like a great "balance" exercise to the old rubber ball.

    thanks man,
    dave p
  8. takeout

    takeout Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Kansas City area
    No problem. I'm always willing to help others learn from my mistakes, of which there are many.
  9. watt

    watt the man in the van w/a bass in his hand Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    all good stuff here, thanks to those who posted such wisdom.

    make sure you take it easy and don't do permanent damage. go slow - you have to heal up to be where you used to be, playing-wise. swelling causes lots of pain - j used to ice his arms after gigs. there's anit-inflamitories (ibuprofen) but they're hard on the kidneys and shouldn't be taken all the time. the main point is you have to heal up.

    if you're a beginner, maybe the pain is from having to get stronger - that happens, happened to me! like these folks said, be patient and go slow 'till you build up stength, it'll come - believe me. just keep at it but don't force things.

    on bass, watt