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Left pinky and ring finger falling asleep

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by lola99, May 31, 2007.

  1. lola99


    Jan 28, 2006
    I was student teaching for some months, and while coming up with lesson plans and grading, the bass suffered. The student teaching came to an end, and I grabbed the bass and played it like never before. I got at least 2-3 hours of playing time, every day.

    That might be normal for others, but that is not normal for me. So.... I was having a great time, and then I noticed that the tips of my pinky and ring finger on my left hand are feeling like they're always asleep. I have to try and shake them awake at nights...that's when I noticed the problem, actually.

    WHAT have I done to my left hand? I thought that I was using OK technique. This has been going on for a couple of weeks! HELP!!!
  2. that's a sign of the beginning of RSI....

    very important, make sure that when you play you don't curl your left wrist over....raise the neck of your bass so that the headstock is even with your left shoulder...

    until things get better...DON'T play as much...better yet, take 2 - 3 weeks off straight away!

    finally...do you sleep on your hand or bend your wrist weird while you sleep? try using a wrist brace while you sleep to keep your wrist fully uncurled.

    if the sensation does not improve at the end of your rest period...see a doctor!
  3. lola99


    Jan 28, 2006
    Whoa. Just got back on this site. Looked up RSI and vibration while finger, and this might be it. Now I'm scared. Meanwhile, those fingers are still feeling weird. And you can lose fingers as a result of vibration white finger!!!!! I'm really scared.

    Yes, I do sleep with my arm curled over, usually with a kid or a pet resting on it to boot. Thank you for the advice. It does not feel right, and I will take a rest, and see my doc in a week if it doesn't get better. The problem is they don't seem to have reliable cures for these sorts of things, if this is what I have. It's not like setting bone, or giving someone antibiotics for strep throat.

    Oh dear.
  4. Foamy


    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    Better than what happens to me if I sit wrong on a drum throne for a few minutes. :)

    [Edit] Apologies - women present. Where are my manners?? OK, really, sorry. :)
  5. lol...that would only happen to me on wooden bleachers at high school basketball games...
    when I played drums my throne was a quality throne with about 4" thick padding.
  6. you've caught it early...(only 2 weeks of problems)...

    there's several things you can do physically to improve your situation (excercises, better playing technique,etc...)

    Take it seriously, yes...but don't worry about it...more than likely you'll improve your situation.

    I had a left-wrist problem that was so bad, I couldn't even clap my hands or put any backward pressure on my palm...

    I've worked on it and worked on it and now (nearly 1year down the track), It's BETTER than 95% now.

    BTW...i never went to see a doctore..had I, I probably could have reduced my recovery time significantly
  7. lola99


    Jan 28, 2006
    Thank you for being comforting. It's just that I was so busy with so many things for so long that coming back to the bass felt like going on vacation. I hate to give it up now for an extra two weeks.

    The other thing is, since I was doing all sorts of grading etc, along with writing my own papers, I was working a lot on the computer. I wonder if that has something to do with it as well.

    Maybe some time away from the computer, better playing position for the bass, along with drastically reduced practice time would help. And if that doesn't...there's always the doctor!:meh:
  8. If there is any accompanying numbness in the palm or on the side of the hand next to the pinky, do consider that it could be symptomatic of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, as well.
    I left a case of CTS go for too long and now I'm off playing for a few months while I try chiropractic to remedy the situation. It's unpleasant in the extreme, and I'd hate for anyone else to experience it.

    But mostly, remember, we're not doctors, we can't see or diagnose the problem, and you should seek professional medical opinions as soon as possible.
    In the meantime, the advice given to rest and try and let it heal is pretty much good advice no matter what the issue is.
  9. It is unlikely IMO that it is vibration white finger, because that stems typically from industrial use of power tools - although the bass does "vibrate", it is nothing like the continuous strong vibration of a drill, power sander, etc., over a shift of work.

    That being said, you've definitely got a problem, although it sounds like it stems from a period of overplaying when you were out of condition. Kind of like not being in shape and then going out and running a race. It's possible that your technique when you were playing before also contributed to the problem in a cumulative way.

    Like others said, give it a rest, consider a wrist brace (only a few $ at a drugstore) to keep your wrist straight at least at night, look at your playing technique and change angles/strap heights to straighten your wrist.

    There are a number of different types of cumulative trauma disorders, but you may not necessarily have cumulative trauma. And if you do you, might be able to prevent further problems by making some changes.
  10. fungihead


    May 24, 2007
    when you play do your pinkie and ring finger curl up, if so try to play with them constantly hovering above the fretboard, and not curled up under it.

    raising the bass can help with this
  11. WesW

    WesW <><

    Jul 25, 2002
    Lynn Haven, FL
    Best advice - see a Doctor. They can assist - and get help before it gets worse.

    I had Carpal tunnel in both hands - had the CT 'release' surgery in my right hand a couple years ago. Since then, I have changed my technique (straight hands while playing!) and learned how to warm up prior to playing, and my left hand did not require surgery and is doing fine.

    I'm not saying your technique is off or anything - but make sure you play without bent wrists - this is where the problem can originate. Do finger stretches and warm-ups prior to playing - every time - for at least 5 - 10 minutes. This will help a lot.

    My doc originally proscribed anti-inflammitories for a while (I was taking 800 mg of ibuprofin 4 x's a day - I don't recommend this - tough on the stomach).

    but - see a doc. He/She can get you into a physical therapist.

    see a doc.

  12. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    See a doctor. Don't guess.
  13. tink9975


    Aug 10, 2006
    MoCo, MD
    Definately see a doctor, Its more likely to be Cubital Tunnel syndrome as opposed to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This happens when the the nerves that ennervate the pinky and ring finger (ulnar nerve) become streched or irritated as they pass through the elbow area.

    Carpal tunnel Syndrome usually present in the palm, thumb and index fingers.
  14. JayM


    Apr 4, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    This is correct. Numbness in the pinky and ring finger indicate Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. This nerve can be entrapped in either the elbow or the wrist. The elbow is more common.

    See a doctor. Strength and dexterity losses with this condition can be permanent.

    I had my right hand fixed last September. I have an 8 inch scar across my elbow, but only the tip of my pinky is still numb, and my dexterity and strength have returned.
  15. WesW

    WesW <><

    Jul 25, 2002
    Lynn Haven, FL
    I am not a doctor - so take this with a grain of salt, unless you have something smaller to take it with. .. but my numbness was in my pinkie & ring finger on my left hand. The doc had me tested (a neurologist - witht the ever popular at parties - Lets-see-how-far-an-electric-shock-will-travel-through-your-arm Test) - and diagnosed me with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I had the release surgery done on my wrist. I'm just saying. . . (not a doctor. Me - I'm not a doctor, at all).

    I'm not saying anyone is right or wrong - but regardless what it is or is called - See a doctor. Immediately, unless you can do it sooner.

    Your fingers as a bass player are pretty important.
  16. lola99


    Jan 28, 2006
    I'm frustrated as hell, and I'm trying not to play or spend too long on the computer. On the plus side, my left hand is feeling better, fingers much less sleepy. Anyhow...I love playing the bass, and taking off for so long is upsetting. What if I have forgotten everything when I get back to it??? :crying:

    We have our yearly trip to Wyoming coming up soon, and this time I won't drag a bass along with me, assuring me almost an entire month without any practice :crying: :crying: :crying: Maybe I'll bring the acoustic bass along with some Bach scores, and cuddle them both in the tent. No playing, though :crying:

    If things have not improved by the time we return, it'll be doc time.

    Thank you for all the help. I actually thought that this was the beginning of a stroke, and I'm not old enough for that!!!
  17. I suferred from numbness in my pinky, as well as that side of my hand and part of my ring finger, a few years ago. It turned out to be a pinched nerve in my neck/back, right under my strap. A few visits to the chiropractor worked it out, and he also showed me some stretches that would prevent such discomfort. I have not had the problem since.
  18. +1 on this seems to be a problem with the ulnar nerve. It could be related to the cubital tunnel or other factors. I was just talking to my doctor this morning about soreness near my pinky. He asked if I experienced numbness in my pinky and half of my ring finger on account of this nerve. He said just banging your elbow on something can cause trouble with this nerve.

    In my case, I didn't have this nerve problem but, when you described your problem, it seemed to point directly to this. I did however have a different problem that bassists should probably know about, trigger finger:

    Trigger finger is cause by irritation/swelling of the tendons controlling the finger movement. When I opened my closed hand, all of the fingers would open except the pinky which stayed closed. As I opened my hand further, the pinky would suddenly "pop" open.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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