Right Hand Finger Injury

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...

Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by msd » Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:32 am

I was throwing a football around with my brother-in-law and my nephew on Christmas Eve and jammed my right middle finger. I didn't realize that I had done any significant damage until I went inside and noticed, to my horror, that the last joint of my finger was bent at a right angle and that I couldn't straighten it. After a little web surfing, I determined that I had a condition known as "mallet finger" (e.g., see http://www.handuniversity.com/topics.asp?Topic_ID=19). After an appointment with an orthopedist I am now sporting a fairly tolerable splint that I must wear for at least eight weeks. According to my doctor, the prognosis is good but I'm concerned that it might not be quite the same once the tendon has reattached itself. I'm wondering if anyone here has suffered this or a similar hand injury that threatened future guitar playing and what the outcome was. Also, what kind of modified practice schedule did you adopt if any during the recovery period?




Re: Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by Classical_man » Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:57 am

Ouch, sounds bad. I once broke my thumb before I played CG(I was playing guitar though). I never did anything about it, just wore an old splint of my sisters. Playing was hard for a few weeks after, but a few weeks of just dealing with it and I have no problem with it now. Don't know if it was just luck on my part are what it healed correctly.

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Re: Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by James » Fri Jan 11, 2008 4:31 am

Hi Msd. I would suggest that once the splint is off, that you seek advise from a physiotherapist (or , physical therapist, as they are known in the USA). Once the 8 weeks is up you should begin mobilisation of the stiff joint, initially active exercises , then more vigorous passive stretches......but take care, as you do not want to compromise the scar tissue! Massage may help.

You may end up with a stiffer joint, but it should be still functional in a CG sense. When you first start playing, do it for short periods .......slowly! Then gradually build up from there.

I suppose if you lose heart, remember Django Reinhardt!


Re: Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by montanajim » Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:09 am

hey msd
sorry to hear about your injury.I think that your recovery ultimately depends on keeping that finger immobilized,so playing even with i a alternation may not be a good idea unless that splint really keeps your finger immoble.
After your recovery you will probably notice some stiffness but the good news is that it is an extensor tendon of the tip so it will probably not effect your playing significantly.

I suffered a tendon injury of my left middle finger flexor tendon when i was younger loosing about 50 % of its range of motion.It creates some challenges for me but i still play . good luck .


Re: Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by JQ. » Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:15 am

msd, I had severed tendons at the base of my left hand fingers that required surgery. I cannot compare your injury to mine, except to say in my case, recovery was not 100%. :(

Ask your doctor what therapy is recommended once the splinting period is over. You will want an occupational therapist and not a physical therapist (there is a difference). Then dedicate yourself to the program they prescribe.

My occupational therapist said she found musicians to be her best patients, because they are dedicated to working hard to get the most functionality back from their hands they can.

For the time being, you are out of commission as far as guitar goes. Accept that. Trying to play with a splint on one finger can cause muscle strain and further damage on the others. Don't do it.

Eight weeks may seem like an eternity, but with just a splint on your finger, at least you don't have to have your significant other bundle your arm/cast up in a garbage bag and seal it with rubber bands every time you need to take a shower.

Spend your time listening to CG, following along with sheet music (this can help your sight reading). Also, you still have your left hand and can "practice" by fingering LH on your guitar to at least maintain your callouses.

Good luck to ya! :)


Re: Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by msd » Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:07 pm

Thanks to all who replied for your advice and encouragement. (And my apologies for following up so late.) Although I was briefly tempted to adopt a modified practice regimen, your comments and some uncharacteristic common sense on my part have deterred me from such foolishness. BTW, I didn't even know about Django Reinhardt's injury until I saw James' reply and went to wikipedia. Remarkable to say the least. I saw this youtube video just a few days ago and thought he was just showing off: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek5kUOxP ... re=related. But my ignorance doesn't stop here. Before I goofed up my finger, I was unaware that fingers do not have skeletal muscles. I'm learning other things from this experience as well. For instance, you can actually slow down the passage of time considerably by not playing CG. :-) Try it!

Thanks once again for all the good information. Delcampers are the best!

Best regards,


Re: Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by jonrkc » Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:23 pm

James wrote:
I suppose if you lose heart, remember Django Reinhardt!
Well said, James, seriously! That's the first thing I thought of when I saw the subject of this thread -- before reading your post. Very good.


Re: Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by msd » Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:56 pm

After eight weeks of complete immobilization in a splint, my finger appears to be mending quite well. Since the grand unveiling nearly three weeks ago, I have been doing exercises to help strengthen the growth of collagen where the tear occurred and to improve mobility. I still have to wear a band-aid as a kind of soft splint but that comes off at the end of this week. Although it's still a bit stiff, I see improvement every day and have just started playing CG in small doses. I was truly concerned at the time of the injury that I would never be able to play again but I am confident that I won't be any worse than I was before the accident. Is that good? :) (Perhaps I'll get bold enough to produce an MP3 in a few months to let others decide.)


Re: Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by Azalais » Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:27 pm

That's wonderful news!! Don't rush it... but I'm sure with such focused attention during the rehab period, it will probably be BETTER than before! (You can almost start with a clean slate!) Let us know how it goes.

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Re: Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by mainterm » Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:07 am

Well done msd. It's always heartening to hear a story where a guitarist is determined to persevere through a hand injury. I wish you the best.


Re: Right Hand Finger Injury

Post by sharoniex » Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:32 am

What is the most common cause for self injury? Can depression cause self injury, or does self injury cause depression, does it go both ways? What is the most common underlying issue causing the problem? Anyone who's had this problem, and gone to therapy and help, did you find out exactly what was making you deal with stress in that fashion?
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