What just happened? Sudden pain in LH pinky while playing

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
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What just happened? Sudden pain in LH pinky while playing

Post by twang » Fri Mar 11, 2016 10:57 pm

So, it was towards the end of my practice this morning, I was good and warmed up. I had just played through a waltz that _requires_ a relaxed left-hand to play successfully. I started playing it again when suddenly pressing a string with my LH pinky caused a sharp pain near the joint closest to the finger tip. Within a couple of minutes it was clear I was done for the day.

It only hurts when pressing with the finger. It doesn't seem swollen. I can bend it just fine. It doesn't hurt to touch the finger. After about an hour I added a splint to prevent accidental irritation. But, after a full day it's not any better. Normally, I wouldn't worry about it, except this is the finger I broke years ago and the very joint where I had mallet-finger.

Any guesses as to what might have happened? (Yes, I'll go see a doc in the morning if it ain't better.)

"An amateur is he who takes up the study of an instrument as a relaxation from his serious occupations." -- Sor

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Tom Poore
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Re: What just happened? Sudden pain in LH pinky while playing

Post by Tom Poore » Sat Mar 12, 2016 1:05 am

I’m not a doctor, so anything that follows should be read with this in mind.

It may be nothing more than a strained tendon. Unfortunately, it hurts like hell and takes time to heal. About 25 years ago I did this to my left hand first finger while playing the Sor etude in thirds. I reached for a bar and had a sudden shot of pain along the back of my finger. After that, I could still play, but had to be very careful with bar chords. If I did a bar wrong, it was very painful.

The bad side is that it took a long time to heal. There isn’t much blood flow in a tendon, so that slows the healing process. The good side is that I got significantly better at placing bars.

I hope your problem is nothing worse than this.

Tom Poore
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Re: What just happened? Sudden pain in LH pinky while playing

Post by Philosopherguy » Sat Mar 12, 2016 3:46 am

I've had mysterious pain happen in fingers too. For me it never lasted longer than a couple days and I was back at it. I guess you just have to wait it out and see if it gets better.

I do have a silly question, because this has also happened to me: Do you have any splinters in your fingers? Were you recently working with steel wool or something that might have left something in your skin? Fibre-optic glass? If you get little slivers that you can't see they can be very hard to find and cause pain for a while until they either work themselves out, or get encased in hard skin. Last time I used steel wool this happened to me and my one finger hurt like heck for like a week before either the splinter was gone, or it was just encased or something. Who knows! It eventually went away. Just a thought! It might sound odd, but splinters can manifest pain in strange ways sometimes. Especially if you might have gotten a splinter in the skin that is close to where it naturally flexes, causing it to keep tearing at your skin whenever you do anything to disturb the area.

Good luck! I hope your finger feels better.


After thought, another thing to check is that your strings aren't throwing off any metal fragments.. I have had this too from older string started to throw little fragments into my skin as I played.
2013 Ramirez 130 Anos - Spruce
2013 Ramirez 4NE - Cedar
1998 Dean Harrington - Spruce
1977 Kuniharu Nobe - Spruce
1971 Yamaha GC3 - Spruce

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