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Left pinky knuckle swelled up

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by detracti, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. detracti


    May 5, 2006
    I've been out of it about ten years, and just caught the bug to play again. And I've been practicing nearly every night - voraciously. Rough as hell, but improving slowly.

    So, my left pinky tip is all swelled up, and that last knuckle at the end of it is kind of tender. I've stopped using it, and I'm sure that fretting with that finger has triggered it. For the time being, I'm down to three fingers.

    Has anyone ever had that? At first I thought it was arthritis, and maybe it is, but I suppose I might have twisted or fractured it? If it doesn't settle down soon, I'll go see the doctor.
  2. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I recommend that you slow down a little. You shouldn't be doing anything that causes you pain. Playing bass is more physical than we think. Be sure to warm up properly and limit your practice time at first or at least break up your sessions to an hour or less at a sitting. when I'm burning in new material on weekends, I'll do 3 or 4 60-90 minute sessions rather than a 4 or 5 hour grind.

    I get it - it's fun - but you gotta ease yourself into it, and let your body build up the proper muscles. If you just can't get enough, use some of your practice time to do ear training and theory study - you get the benefits of practice without the physical stress.

    I'm no master, but if your ailment is a result of playing bass, you're probably using poor technique - or judgment. And yes, if it doesn't ease up very soon , see a doctor. I can't imagine you fractured it playing bass - unless you're doing mad hammers with your pinky. But a sprain is certainly conceivable. And you may be trying to stretch beyond your capabilities - work within your physical limitations.
  3. Ice that finger and back off the playing for a week or so.

    You are obviously working your hand too hard when it hasn't become accustomed to playing.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    After you take a break and let your body heal, when you resume playing the bass again, try using your 3rd and 4th fingers together as "buddies." Then your 4th finger will not have to press down the string by itself. It will have the combined strength of your 3rd finger backing it up.
  5. detracti


    May 5, 2006
    Thanks for all the replies! I did put some ice on it last night. I don't know if it reduced the swelling any, but it does feel better today - maybe more to do with staying off it.
  6. detracti


    May 5, 2006
    ...its a sprain. I'm sure of it now.
  7. detracti


    May 5, 2006
    Had to come back and update this.

    It turns out that I have arthritis in that knuckle. I'm sure it is from abusing it with my playing over the years. I had a heavy hand, used it heavily and sometimes would try to bar the D and G strings with it.

    The funny thing is, finding out has freed me up to decide I'm going to keep playing. Prior to getting x-rays and a diagnosis, I was feeling in a holding pattern.

    Maybe it is just a question of knowing what I need to do (learn to use it sparingly and rely more on my three remaining good fingers, and get a splint, to keep the knuckle from popping, when I want to use it). For now, I'm using an oval 8, size 6, and if I rotate it inward a little, and trimmed on one side, it is out of the way enough that I can play with it, without it interfering with the strings.
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  8. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    A lot of stuff gets better on its own once you remove the aggravating factors. This is one of the best arguments going for 1-2-3/4 fingering and floating thumb technique.

    detracti likes this.
  9. Markamb1


    Oct 24, 2018
    First time being here... my similar but more all inclusive overview of guitarist health type thread got moved over because I put it somewhere it didn’t belong.

    Luckily, most guitarists and some bassists never use their pinky’s anyway. It think it’s a weakness but it’s a common trend among Some of the most important guitarists in popular music. I’ve always wondered if it’s somehow enabling a certain style or expression because if you think about it...it’s an all together different approach....with must be different results and choices related to nothing more than the flow of conveniences and inconveniences of positioning possibilities.
    detracti likes this.
  10. detracti


    May 5, 2006
    I'll tell you what - my old way of playing Blood and Roses was with the index and middle on A and E, and then the end of the riff with ring and pinky on D and A strings. Now, I'm going index-middle for A and E, and then middle and ring on D and A strings. And you know what - it sounds better, more clean and consistent.

    And I'm also spreading my three fingers better with each practice.

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