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Left hand pain/ tendonitis???

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by treekiller, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    Hi, I'm hoping someone can help me with advice on dealing with stiffness/ pain in my left hand. Specifically, I cannot bend my ring finger completely closed and sometimes it "locks". I just had another injection of cortizone by a specialist yesterday and it didn't help. I have tried ultrasonic treatment which helps only temporarily. The last time I had a cortizone injection it helped for several months, but it slowly returned to the same condition. If I eat a few advil, I can play a gig ok and seem to have complete flexability, but the next day I'm back in the same place.

    The Dr. said surgery might be an option, but I'm leery of somebody cutting on my hand.

    Have any of you out there had this problem and if so, what treatment has worked for you???
  2. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    What worked for me:

    1. Get a short scale bass. I got a Fender Mustang reissue. Only play that shorty while recuperating.

    2. Look at strap length. Setting the bass too high rotates your left arm and can cause strain on your left forearm and hand. Setting the strap too low can cause issues with your right hand.

    3. Really take a look at other activities that might be causing problems with your tendonitis also. I noticed that excessive typing or playing video games was stressful so I cut those out or WAY down. Might be time to become the lord of the manor.... :bag:

    4. Limit play time. Gigs and rehearsals only till the pain recedes.

    There were a couple gigs where I had to suck down a hydrocodone to get through the night, but only a couple.

    Oh, and for chrissake talk to the doctor about it and explain that you are a musician. My doctor recommended differing treatments/stretches when I told him that.
  3. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    Thanks for the advice! Due to the economy, I have been "lord of the manor" for awhile now......

    I did make sure the Doc knows what I'm doing, but that is an excellent point that shouldn't be overlooked. Alls I know is this is a frustrating nightmare that needs to go away!!!
  4. thunesBARROW


    Apr 12, 2010
    Have you tried acupressure/massage?
  5. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    Not yet. I have had massage therapy for a back injury and got good results. My Chiropractor's sister is a LMT and they are in practice together.
  6. TuneIn


    Feb 15, 2010
    REST!, see a good Chiropractor, and do some cardio to help increase circulation, (along with ice and heat).
  7. John D

    John D Guest

    Dec 27, 2009
    Some people call it trigger finger. I have it too. Unfortunately, you'll probaboy have to go the surgery route or you'll just have to learn to live with it. PM me if you would like to know what the hand specialists told me/did for me.
  8. nobodysfool


    Apr 22, 2010
    Shelby, OH
    By all means see a doctor, and look at your playing position. Find a place where your left wrist is as straight as possible, and don't try to place your thumb on the neck behind your middle finger, place it on the back side of the neck above your fingers.


    As you can see I have issues with RA in my hands. If you look, my left wrist is straight, and my thumb is almost on the back of the neck. It moves around as I play, kind of floating.
  9. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I have an ulner nerve that is a real problem. Left shoulder & arm are sore and ring & pinkie finger have gone crooked(can't str8em). Playing moderately has been good therapy although I do use pain killers to get thru a gig.
    Try massage therapy, it is good for circulation and releive cramping.
  10. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    Thanks, I'm going to try to get an appointment tomorrow!
  11. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    I still need to unlearn some of the habits I aquired from playing guitar........
  12. devonhealth


    Aug 12, 2009
    malvern pa.
    Hi Tree,
    Am a physical medicine and rehab/pain management physician, also long time bassist (45 years). Have seen numerous cases like yours. Most likely of course, overuse syndrome of the flexor tendon involving the tendon sheath. We call it Dupuytren's Contracture or also trigger finger. The tendon to flex the finger rides in a covering or sheath. Get irritated, swelling etc. can feel a click or locking feeling. Surgery always a last resort!!! Occasional corticosteroid injection ok but Not more than 3 per year. (Can destroy the tendon) Unfortunately, a long period of rest or splinting is the only thing that works well. Tendons have significantly less blood supply than muscle therefore much harder to heal. Can try spinting the affected finger each night overnight for 6 to 8 weeks, and use it a less as possible..(yeah right!) Also, there are a couple of meds you can ask your physician about, one is a gel (voltaren), its a topical NSAID that goes right to the injury and doesn't disseminate throughout the body, the other is a Patch, Flector with the same stuff..They both seem to work really well....Good Luck
  13. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    Looking at your left hand thumb position I'd say try and get it back behind the neck to provide an opposite force to your fingers, as it stands at the moment the fingers are trying to work the force of fretting without the back pressure support of your thumb? Playing the position you picture my thumb ends up behind the neck in-line with the middle finger on the board?
    Just my 2 bits. I've had tendonitis before through over-practise, I had to lay-off for a month (ish), if you have to play, try lighter gauge strings for a while? Rest is the deal with it IMO.

    Something I posted a while back in another thread, may help?

    A little thing I used to use for a reminder of fretting finger pressure, put your index (or other) fretting finger on the string hovering above the fret you want to play (don't fret it), play 8's/16th's with your picking hand on that string, now increase down-pressure (slowly) with your fretting finger until the string frets the note cleanly and it's clear....it's surprising how little fretting finger pressure it takes to sound a note cleanly and allow you to skip around. Just a thought.
  14. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    Thanks a bunch Doc!!! I have tried using a wrist brace at night, but that only seems to make the whole hand numb by morning. Could lack of circulation be part of the problem??? I am going back to the Chiropractor today for ultrasonic treatment, which has helped temporarily in the past.
  15. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    I'll hafta try that!
  16. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    This link (from a fellow TB'r) is worth a look.

  17. MrGotBass


    Jul 28, 2009
    Maybe try lighter strings too. Less tension to push down should help a bit.
  18. nobodysfool


    Apr 22, 2010
    Shelby, OH
    My thumb tends to float a bit, but most of the time it's on the back side of the neck, pointing toward the headstock, but "above" my fingers, not behind them, until I get up high on the neck (12th fret or higher). This keeps my wrist fairly straight, and my fingers curve around the neck to the strings. I've had to adjust my technique due to the RA, but I can still get the notes out.

    My thumb is against the neck in the photo so I'm not transferring all of the effort to fret the strings to my fingers.

    In case you didn't catch it, the pic is not of the OP but someone trying to help him sort out how to relieve his dilemma.
  19. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    ^ Ah, I see, thanks ;)
  20. 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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