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Permanently damaged fingers?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Haderian, Jul 11, 2004.


  1. Serious problem! This matter may have come up before but I can´t seem to find it. The joints in my fingers (especially index and middle of left hand) ache more and more. This has been going on for some months and a week of rest doesn´t cure it. In my band, we practice once a week for 3-4 hours and we do about 4 gigs a month, about 2 hours. Pretty intense stuff too. The pain sets in earlier and earlier during the sessions. I thought I´d be building up my strength but it feels like the opposite. My technique is probably horrible, never had any serious lessons or anything, but how much could that have to do with it? Trying to use the "correct" left hand position (thumb to back of neck) only makes things even worse. Also, between rehearsing or gigging I basically never touch my instrument.

    I have been playing upright for 5 years but never as much as now, that we have finally had some success. A tour is coming up in October where we´ll do 17 gigs in two weeks and I have no idea how my poor fingers will be up to the task. Anybody had the same problems? What should I do???
     
  2. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Could be arthritis. Definitely get it checked out ASAP! You only have one set of hands, take care of them!
     
  3. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I think you need to consult a good teacher. When I was a full-time player I developed a similar problem. Turned out I was squeezing the bass instead of properly applying arm weight. Also have your set-up checked out. I suspect your fingerboard may have too much camber (scoop).
     
  4. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I'm with Ahhhnold. Really, technique is everything when it comes to DB. It's one of those things where you know when you're doing it right; when everything is pretty much in balance, there isn't much tension in your hands. It doesn't have much to do with your thumb, the power comes from further up your arm and into the rest of your body. I also really try to keep my elbow up. My intonation, attack, and relaxation are all way better when I focus on that. It reminds me of archery, where the support is in your butt, your back, and so on , leaving your hands free to do the dirty work.

    Since you mentioned the joints in your fingers, you might want to make sure that your hands aren't collapsing at the knuckles. Ideally, you want a nice "C" shape coming out of your shoulder and continuing all the way to the end of your fingertips.

    Finally, it seems that maybe you're just not playing enough. I may get some crap for this, but I didn't really get comfortable playing until I starting working a lot. I play a minimum 3-4 hours daily, most days of the year, just while I'm working. DB is physically demanding, and it's kind of a Catch-22; you have to get used to gigging on a regular basis in order to sustain the energy that you need to get the job done.

    I think maybe a lesson might help you, just to make sure. Check with your MD as well.
     
  5. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Again - try this - sit on a stool to play, if you don't already. Lay the bass down fairly flat against yourself, and drop you thumb completely off the neck - ie., play with only your hand, wrist, arm. (works after you get the hang of it). Unless it's Arthur Itis, errr... It's a temporary solution.
     
  6. Thanks, brothers, will try all these tips. But -- can you get arthritis when you´re only 42? And there´s no way I could practice for hours every day, what with my family, job etc. Wish there were someone out there who had the same problems. Sweet Lord, my fingers hurt really bad, especially the top joint (or whatever you call it in English) of my left hand index.

    Talk to your doctor, yeah, right, you should see what the health care is like in my country there days...
     
  7. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Well - there are some fine bass players in Sweden who might help you a bit. You can examine your own fingers in a dark room, over a very bright light, to detect any swelling that might be due to Arthur Itis. Although it's not likely, Arthur can strike even at a younger age. If so, then playing may be trying to tell you something.

    Lots of practice isn't the key, anyway. Focused, short periods are just as good for most folks. 15 or twenty minutes, time off, and maybe another 15 or 20. You will be surprised at how you progress doing that, if you have a little guidance from a good teacher.
     
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Are you saying that English is a second language to you? I'm always impressed when I run across someone communicating effectively in something other than their native language,; often better than those raised there! Especially English, unfortunately...

    I want to stress that I don't recommend trying to play through the pain if there is something physiologically wrong. I may have given that impression in my earlier post. I would try to do whatever is possible to find out where the pain is coming from. I know of people in their 20's who were basically incapacitated by arthritis, although I don't know if it's really considered common. At the same time, cleaning up your technique can only help. I've had to undo a lot of incorrect technique as a result of being self-taught.
     
  9. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Haderian: You haven't mentioned how high the strings are, over the fingerboard...maybe something as simple as that?
     
  10. Nope, the action is super low and I use pretty soft Spirocore Weichs. I have the luxury of having a professional luthier in my band and he keeps my equipment in tip-top shape.

    I guess I just play too much at once, and then lay off for a week, then another 3-hour marathon. Guess that becomes a shock to my poor fingers. Will definitely try to adapt a more correct left hand position, though -- and practice for at least 15 minutes every day. Thanks for all the help! I love you guys!
     
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    This still shouldn't mess up your joints. I can imagine some blisters, but not what you mention.
     
  12. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    I'd guess he has something else going on, since his strings are low, and it's only 3 hours or so at a sitting. Maybe some inflamation; doctor stuff. Sounds like it needs attention. Or simply treat it like arthur itis, and see what happens, you know. Even if a Dr. says "You have it," what the heck, the treatment is the same - aspirin and other stuff. I am unaware of any special medical treatment other than symptomatic.
     
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Could be gout or any other number of conditions as well, some serious and some not. A trip to the doctor might save him from a lifetime of pain or loss of use of his hand. (Loud enough for you, Haderian?)
     
  14. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Get a left handed bass.
     
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You're being serious or humorous?
     
  16. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Mmmm .. well - some fooks can pick up lefty pretty fast...
     
  17. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Its certainly possible to have arthritis at an early age. And, never play through the pain. I have a new DB teacher and I'm unlearned a lot of bad habits I picked up along the way. One of the best things I've learned is to take the weight away from the hands and have the weight come from the shoulder and think of myself as being centered in the abdominal area. I've also loosened up my playing by switching to playing standing up. Alot less strain. If doing any thumb position, just learn to let the weight of the neck drop on your shoulder.

    Do seek the advice of experts -- a teacher, a doctor. They may not have all the answers, but at least they're good at diagnosis.

    If you do have a diagnosis of arthritis, and I wouldn't jump to any conclusion here, do take a look at other alternative treatments besides Rx drugs and aspirin. Alot of problems with arthritis are related to dietary things and by eliminating such things as milk, ice cream, etc. alot of these problems can clear up. I could go on and on about that, but it is true for a number of people.
     
  18. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    That really is the best solution, in my opinion. It's easy to quarterback from the sidelines. Diagnosis from a doctor, and a teacher - makes good sense. Pain doesn't.
     
  19. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    ... and, when it comes up, the little bit of advice I always chuck into this question is to try and seek out a doctor/medical professional who is associated with either the arts or with sports. Most large cities these days have such people.

    You know the old joke about the guy that walks into his doctor's office and says "Doc, it hurts when I do this" and the Doc replies "well, stop doing that"? The arts/sports medicoes are more likely to understand your passion for bass-playing and are a little less likely to tell you just to "stop doing that."

    But I don't think I've ever met an instrument more likely than DB to hurt you if you're doing it wrong...
     
  20. addy

    addy

    May 18, 2004
    Rheumatoid Arthiritis and Osteoarthiritis are the most common forms of arthiritis which affect the hand.

    The osteo form is usually found in the base of the thumb, middle joint of a finger, and fingertip. Osteoarthiritis usually occurs when cartilage wears away between bones, from repetitive stress, injury or overuse.
    Rheumatoid generally occurs in both hands, and is accompanied by swelling which stretches the ligaments to a point where they lose their strength and stability.

    Commonly symptoms can last for years though! But, many treatments including anti-inflammatory drugs (over the counter & prescription), physical therapy and if necessary steroid injections are available.

    Hope I've provided some useful information,
    regards