Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
Malcolm
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Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by Malcolm » Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:18 am

I have been having consistent soreness in the second joint of the third finger on my left hand. I mentioned this to my doctor (a new doctor due to a change of address) and his response was not encouraging. His attitude was basically that it goes with the territory and get used to it. He mentioned that he sees people half my age (I’m 62) and they have similar problems from playing a musical instrument.

Does anyone else agree with his “diagnosis” or should I seek a second opinion. I am considering going to see my previous doctor which is a round trip of about two hours, but it may be worth it; he was always far more empathetic.

The problem actually stems from playing a technical exercise based on a Bach Fugue which involves several slurs using that finger whilst fretting with the remaining fingers. I know the obvious solution is to stop playing that exercise for a while but that is only short term. Would cortisone injections help?

Cheers,
Malcolm
When I was ten, I thought my parents knew everything. When I became twenty, I was convinced they knew nothing. Then, at thirty, I realized I was right when I was ten.

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Catire
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Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by Catire » Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:28 am

Cortizone might help in the short run. But, if you continue doing the same thing, it will just reoccur. Maybe you can find a way of fingering things differently. Also, some rest can't hurt.
"Can it be there was only one summer when I was ten years old?"

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Aucaman
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Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by Aucaman » Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:56 am

I had a very similar problem. Mine was finger 4 on the left hand.
CAUSE: I know I injured it by practicing too much the infamous beginning measures of the second part of Capricho Arabe and one tricky section of El Choclo and Argentinian Tango.

TREATMENT: The first thing I did was, of course, to stop playing that. In fact, I did not play the guitar for an entire week. Then I started doing exercises gently squeezing a soft rubber ball. I also used rubber bands around all my LH fingers and work at opening them stretching the rubber band. (No that my fingers are stronger, I use those thicker rubber bands that come around broccoli at the market). As soon as I felt discomfort I would stop and try again the next day. I've been doing slurs involving finger4 very slowly (metronome at 60 bpm). I have learned to become very aware of my left finger joints. As soon as I feel something different, I stop and take a good rest.

This has worked for me. I'm 69. I know my finger joints are not getting any better!! :(

Guitarist

Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by Guitarist » Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:58 am

You have to be so careful because doing the wrong exercises could do more harm to the existing problem or create a whole new set.

Maybe you need to take that two-hour trip to see the other doctor... !

Best of luck, I hope you get better soon.

G

simonm
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Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by simonm » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:24 am

I don't know how medicine is organised in Ozzieland. I would suggest visiting a good physiotherapist for a opinion. There are electrical treatments for some problems where you are getting pain in joints. My father in law had his shoulder treated that way completely successfully and has had no issues after more than 10 years - he is now well in his 70's.

UKsteve
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Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by UKsteve » Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:45 pm

As ever, this will depend entirely on the correct diagnosis.

Most obviously, is this degenerative disease (i.e. osteoarthritis) or an inflammatory arthritis (of which there are many, rheumatoid being the most common)?

Contingent on the cause, steroids (whether injected or otherwise), could be completely inappropriate,

If you haven't had so already, you need a doctor to take a full history, examine you properly, and do some investigations if warranted.

Cheers,
Steve

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bear
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Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by bear » Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:55 pm

I'd go with the second opinion from your previous physician. It will be worth the ride just to ease your mind. Ask if there are useful treatments.
If, the condition is the product of age and use, welcome to the club and get a 640mm scale.
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clivepics

Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by clivepics » Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:23 am

I am getting a 64cm scale guitar precisely for the reason that I turn sixty this month and want to care for my fingers as I get older and extend the number of years i can play.

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Paul Janssen
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Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by Paul Janssen » Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:11 am

Hi Malcolm,

I would immediately stop playing that exercise for a period of time and rest that finger joint. If/when the pain goes away (and hopefully it will) i'd rest it for a while longer (say a week or two) and then try the exercise again. If it recurs then I'd go see my previous doctor. They may end up referring you to a specialist. The second opinion won't cost you anything other than a two hour round trip and this could be a small price to pay if your doctor is able to help you find a better solution.

Good luck,
Paul

LFP

Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by LFP » Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:19 pm

Malcolm wrote:His attitude was basically that it goes with the territory and get used to it. He mentioned that he sees people half my age (I’m 62) and they have similar problems from playing a musical instrument.

Does anyone else agree with his “diagnosis” or should I seek a second opinion.
Most of these pains are misuse issues. The old Maxim " Any Pain No gain" should be part of all music students lexicon.
Finding the answer will be important learning. In itself difficult. But deeply valuable as far as long term benefits for playing guitar or any instrument for that matter.

Although I agree with the wrong motion causing pain I tend to agree less with the idea that it isn't fixable/curable. That is difficult but doable.
Take a close look at Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, body mapping, Rolfing etc.

Finding the required nutritional supports is what will help most assuming that the movements are properly modified and maintained.
Niacin can/will reduced joint pain. Boron especially but also, Silica as ortho silicic acid and the alkanising minerals ie Potassium, Magnesium and Sodium. Gelatine will help also.
Reducing grain carbs and possibly milk products in the diet helps some. (Google nutrition/joint pain linkages.)

LFP

Malcolm
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Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by Malcolm » Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:34 pm

Thanks for all your responses. I will put that exercise aside for a while, although I will need to play it in an exam soon, but that is a little over two months away. I will also do that round trip to see my old doctor. I'm sure he will be far more helpful. I will also investigate those dietary supplements as suggested by LFP.

Cheers,
Malcolm

P.S. I have always believed that the old adage "no pain, no gain" does NOT apply to musicians.
When I was ten, I thought my parents knew everything. When I became twenty, I was convinced they knew nothing. Then, at thirty, I realized I was right when I was ten.

Mark Twain

mmapag
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Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by mmapag » Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:46 am

Malcolm wrote:

P.S. I have always believed that the old adage "no pain, no gain" does NOT apply to musicians.
You are correct. It does not. Also, I have generally found LFP's posts to be most informative and well researched.
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Tomzooki
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Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by Tomzooki » Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:06 am

No cortisone injection!! Stop the exercise, and everything that trigger the pain, for a while, and apply ice regularily.

The problem appeared for a reason. When your finger will get better, come back to the exercise, and analyze. Try to find what type of movement hurted your finger, pay a special attention to play as relaxed as possible, and find another way to do it
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snowkiter

Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by snowkiter » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:08 pm

You could try glucosamine, which is cheap, safe and available over the counter in many countries. It might help with joint pain.

Malcolm
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Re: Sore Finger Joint and a Doctor's Opinion

Post by Malcolm » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:30 am

I thought I would revive this thread for a short time after talking with a hand surgeon. The reason I saw him was to discuss a procedure to deal with my Dupuytren's Contracture. He is not only a doctor but also a professor in the area of hand problems/injuries, and has been part of a pioneering treatment in dealing with this disease which involves injections rather than surgery.

However, putting that aside, the problem with my other finger is probably osteoarthritis, which is not really what I wanted to hear, although it confirms my GPs initial diagnosis. What was most interesting though was his comments about all the "natural" remedies that the health food industry promotes with such vigour. I think his opinion of them can be summed up in one word - useless.

He has a rather dry sense of humour and he suggested going into a health food shop and saying "I have these aches and pains in my joints what have you got that might help?". "No problem" they would say. "Take some of these, and some of these, and some more of these and you'll be fine". Then say "Oh, and by the way, my hair is going grey and is falling out. Do you have anything for that too?"

His point was there is nothing you can do about the aging process. The best we can do is keep fit, walk a lot, eat well, and maintain a positive attitude. And hope for the best 8) . And, of course, keep smiling through the pain!

Would anyone like to add to this, or perhaps refute those comments about the health food industry?

Cheers,
Malcolm
When I was ten, I thought my parents knew everything. When I became twenty, I was convinced they knew nothing. Then, at thirty, I realized I was right when I was ten.

Mark Twain

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