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WRGKMC

Trigger Finger

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I developed a bad case of Trigger finger recently.  Combination of typing all day on the day job then playing too much guitar.  I work up one morning and couldn't straighten my pointer finger which really freaked me out.  A little exercise and it eventually started working again and thought it was OK.  Then each night for 3 weeks its done the same thing. 

I tried a few things like putting it in a cardboard splint at night.  That prevented it from locking up but it didn't help heal it much. Tried icing it down too and only temporary relief. I've been playing guitar for 55 years now and I'm not ready to give it up.  I normally play several hours each night and much more on the weekends.  I guess the 8 hour days are what injured it. 

So the next step was a hand doctor.  What I'm told the tendon feeds through some hollow cartilage much like a line on a fishing pole feeds through eyelets.  The tendon was swollen and binds on these eyelets.  He gave me a shot of steroids yesterday in the palm of my hand darn near to the bone.  It still hurts from that.  He said it should be feeling great today but no soap so far.  The guy does sports medicine for the big wigs but I don't think his treatment worked on the first shot.  he says they try 2 injections and if that doesn't work, they do and incision which is a couple of centimeters long. 

I hope the shots work, I really don't want to wind up with a gimpy hand because of some cut. 

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they slice and dice you to open the sleeve so the tendon moves freely...but, the real issue is to get rid of the cause of the swelling.  Your doctor is treating the swelling, not the root cause.

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Been through that too

Had a shot and it was good for a year or so. Eventually it came back though so I had another shot . This time the results were not quite as long lasting. The next step was going to be to release the pulley. They said that pulley really wasn’t needed. (yeah right) There would be a small incision in the palm of my hand near the finger. Then they would simply snip open the pulley that the tendon was catching on. I didn’t like the sound of that plan so I delayed doing anything. A few months later I retired from my job turning wrenches and now the finger is fine. 

Something needs to change , I hope you can find a way 

 

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38 minutes ago, gardo said:

Been through that too

Had a shot and it was good for a year or so. Eventually it came back though so I had another shot . This time the results were not quite as long lasting. The next step was going to be to release the pulley. They said that pulley really wasn’t needed. (yeah right) There would be a small incision in the palm of my hand near the finger. Then they would simply snip open the pulley that the tendon was catching on. I didn’t like the sound of that plan so I delayed doing anything. A few months later I retired from my job turning wrenches and now the finger is fine. 

Something needs to change , I hope you can find a way 

 

I thought maybe the cut would allow the pulley to expand and then it would just grow back at a larger size.  I'm like you however, Anything that would screw up my playing doesn't sound good.

The edge of the fret board is right where they'd want to make that incision. I can just see my ability to bend notes go right down the toilet with a cut there. 

 

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3 hours ago, WRGKMC said:

I thought maybe the cut would allow the pulley to expand and then it would just grow back at a larger size.  I'm like you however, Anything that would screw up my playing doesn't sound good.

The edge of the fret board is right where they'd want to make that incision. I can just see my ability to bend notes go right down the toilet with a cut there. 

 

It’s possible that your Dr might ream out the opening  
I sure would ask a lot of questions 

maybe the shots will be enough 

let’s hope so 

Edited by gardo

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Yeah, I'd back off the source. Work other aspects of guitar AND gear repair. Good excuse to take it up a notch.

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Is it possible to get a softer touch keyboard? That might help reduce the major stress cause.

Is this right or left hand (& are you right or left handed)?

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Good luck with yours!!! I am almost 62, I developed a bad case about a year ago. The first time is a freaky experience, though mine was opposite yours. I woke up and thought I was extending all my fingers (it felt normal), but quickly I realized the third finger of my fretting hand was still bent down....then all of a sudden it shot up! What a weird feeling.  I've had a lot of medical issues for a lot of years, so this was not even something I approached my Dr. about. I did find that In order to play without serious pain, I had to get rid of any guitars I had with thin necks, so my 2011 SG with 50's neck profile (though not baseball bat) has been my main guitar since...it just hurts less. I also realized that playing actually did help a little bit, it definitely made my finger more pliable, and it doesn't get stuck as often. It sucks, but so far I can live with it. 🙀

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14 hours ago, Emory said:

Is it possible to get a softer touch keyboard? That might help reduce the major stress cause.

Is this right or left hand (& are you right or left handed)?

Its the left pointer finger, the fretboard hand for guitar. 

The keyboard at work is light touch.  Thing is I never learned to type with all the fingers however. 

Back in the 60's  Typing lessons in school were pretty much limited to Girls taking Home-ec and  Secretarial/office classes  and consisted of sitting in front of an old mechanical typewriter.  It wasn't a class many boys took unless they were being trained to take over the family business and needed office skills.  I didn't plan on taking business classes as an course of study.

PC's wouldn't be around for at least another 30 years and even though I was repairing some of the first PC's  made as an electronic tech I knew you didn't have to be an expert at working a keyboard in order to repair one. (I still don't even though it would be handy) By the time they had become so common place in the 90's I had already been playing guitar, Piano, bass and violin for several decades. 

In short I wasn't able to retrain the hands after being a musician for 40 years.  I jumbled the keys playing chords so I became very proficient using 2 fingers and even earn a living at a keyboard now.  Unfortunately it does wear on the fingers a bit more but I think I can get by till I retire in a couple of years and then I probably wont use one any more then my recording studio demands. 

I tried sleeping last night without a splint and that finger curled up worse then before.  Wasn't sure I could straighten it out again at first. 

I iced it down while having my morning coffee and it was down to 40 this morning so I stuck the hand out the window driving to work and it got numb.  Its felt good most of the day but it hasn't healed any that I can detect.  Anyway, its Friday and I have two days I'm going to try and keep it immobile.  If its no soap I'll give the doctor a call and see how soon I can get the second shot.    I'm surprised it didn't work better.  I got shots for my lower back. had a pinched phytic nerve which produced the wort pain you can imagine. One shot and it was highly reduced. 2 shots and I've been good for 9 years. Maybe they watered down the  solution.  It was kind of strange how they brought the needle in half filled already.  Could have been tap water for all I know. 

 

 

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I took typing in high school. I figured it would help when I had papers to write in college (it did and didn't have to depend on girlfriend). One of the most useful classes I took in high school (low bar, I know, I know...)

I strongly advise you learn to type with all fingers. Should be tons of software out there to make it almost fun. I assume all your left hand playing is not done with just index finger....

You already possess left hand nerve/muscle memory at decent level if you play guitar, so shouldn't be tooo awful

Just pretend you are learning new chords, all arpeggio style

Best wishes and hope you heal quickly

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Thanks,  Emory, Deep end.

I'm 62 and will be retired in a few years so learning to type properly isn't on the top of my to do list. 

I did give the hand time to heal this weekend and its doing much better now. Not perfect but it doesn't feel like its busted or locking up any more. They told me it was important to work it after getting the shot so that's what I did.  I cycled playing a little, squeezing a rubber ball, then resting it making sure I didn't over do it.  If it continues to improve, I may not even need that second shot. 

Edited by WRGKMC
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Sorry to hear about your hand issues.  It's a cruel thing to happen to a talented musician.

Is a speech to text program an option for what you do?  Even doing that for a little while may ease the inflamtaion enough for things to right themselves.  Sometimes with repetitive motion injuries your body just needs a break to give it a chance to heal. 

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On ‎1‎/‎27‎/‎2020 at 10:42 AM, mrbrown49 said:

Sorry to hear about your hand issues.  It's a cruel thing to happen to a talented musician.

Is a speech to text program an option for what you do?  Even doing that for a little while may ease the inflamtaion enough for things to right themselves.  Sometimes with repetitive motion injuries your body just needs a break to give it a chance to heal. 

No, in recent years I moved from being a full time electronic tech to a service manager so most of my typing involved running various business applications including the one the company runs on.  The most tedious typing involves inventory and ordering parts from vendors.  Even if using speech to text were possible our network is regulated by our IT department and changes need to be approved by the company owners before installation. 

The other thing is most managers like myself have to deal with customer and employee privacy on a daily basis.  I surely cant be narrating every confidential thing I deal with to the rest of the office. That's like saying, "Hey everyone listen up,  John Doe, was out today due to constipation and Mary Joe had cramps and needs her blue cross number sent to her doctor. Or its It's time to do employee reviews and rating their skills and you get to overhear why the other guy got a raise and you didn't.  Man you'd be sued in court so fast and be looking for a new job too. 

 

I realize the Alexia fad is something young kids are used to buy for someone like myself who also knows the technology, I'm very uncomfortable using any kind of robotic intelligence. 

Edited by WRGKMC

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I have been following this with mild interest, since I too suffer from the "trigger finger." (Right hand pinky) Started about 5 years ago, occasionally locking, then popping back into place. When you think about, it doesn't sound that serious when playing guitar, now does it? But it does effect the way you hold a pick, rest your hand, whatever you do with that side of your picking hand.

So Friday the 7th, I get to go to the Dr.'s and have a needle shoved into my palm. ( Have I mentioned I really REALLY hate needles? Probably the saving grace of me, when all  my friends were doing drugs that involved needles, and I was like.. "Uhhh, no. is there a way I can just rub it into my belly?") It's basically a solution of steroids' and a painkiller. I will keep you happy peoples posted, in case others suffer from this crap.

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Yea if it was on the back of the hand it wouldn't be so bad but they drill right through the palm skin which is thick as hell. 

Getting shots is one of those unpleasant necessities of life.  I get a blood test every 6 moths with the cholesterol medicine I take.  The lest chick they did it jabbed me a half dozen times because she couldn't find the artery.  If you try and skip the test they don't give you refills on the medication.  Its a real scam.  Best option is to stay healthy and don't get old. 

I knew the shot would hurt but playing guitar was far more important.  I have plans of joining another band when I retire from my day job. Something to keep me active and bring in some extra money on the side.  That idea wouldn't work out so hot if I wind up with a gimpy hand and cant keep in practice. 

 

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I was told that pulley in the hand is not needed 

For me it was left hand ring finger, a very important finger

For the average person that pulley might not be needed but how would opening it effect playing

We have sports doctors and all kinds of specialized doctors but I’ve never heard of a musician doctor. Are there any where you live

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My heart goes out to any fellow axe slinger that is affected by this! My case is not so much like the ones I've seen on this thread. As my photo shows, only the very top joint on my middle finger on my fretting hand 🤔 bends not much further than you see,  rendering me GREATLY debilitated, & useless at the guitar in a band situation, unable to play ANYTHING other than an open G chord, or anything that makes me not need to reach beyond the low E or A strings!! I can't make the finger go to those minor chord positions, and it takes me about a second to manage my finger into position,,, and R'n'R doesn't wait a second for chord changes!! Flexor Digitorum Profundus/Lumbrical Plus Finger is the technical name, though this top surgeon lumped it in to the 'trigger' category, tho my finger doesn't ever lock, it's just a lazy top digit. I did try some voluntary grueling physical therapy for about 6 weeks, 3x weekly, getting nowhere,  then opted to step it up & find a hand surgeon who deals only with this stuff. (The 1st Dr. I saw didn't know "what to do with me, even if i opted for surgery"!! I couldn't believe my ears!! My next & final 2nd opinion landed me with my current doc, who first gave me an anti-inflammatory shot of Kenalog, wait a week, and with nothing positive happening, I signed up for surgery, as described above, where he cuts into the palm at the base of the finger, removes any crap if swelling in my bottom ringlet so the specific tendon that allows the little piggy on top move freely through the ringlet,, Patches me up, & within 2 weeks, begin more PT, 3x weekly, and see what happens. Nothing good to report, yet. All concerned professionals agreed it could take 6 months to a year for anything good to occur. Now, therapy is over, and I picked up all the 'toys' they had me using in PT, and I massage vigorously all day &  carry my toys & light hand grip everywhere. He never promised me results, and the next move, once he & I determine that we've exhausted everything, is to fuse that top joint into a bent position, forever, like Les Paul's right arm!! The rest of my finger has great strength, so I would just need to learn to play & maneuver my finger accordingly. Like someone who develops Tennis Elbow or Golfer's arm, 40+ years of being a very active rhythm player may have been the cause, but we don't know for sure. These pics show the extent of my ability to bend my finger, w/o assistance. 

All the best to everyone out there suffering, and keep practicing, keep that fire burning, and don't fear the knife, if it comes down to it. Relatively painless,,, the only pain comes from still not hitting those diminished & minor chords in a timely fashion. BENDING STRINGS? Forget it,,, for now!!  I did pick up an old Epiphone 8 string lap, just to keep my head in the game,,,, TBC,,,,  Kenny  🕉

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Edited by ksl
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Scary stuff man. That's the way my finger got stuck except it was the ring finger.   Definitely thankful I avoided the surgery'. Mojo  sent for a complete recovery  .

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On 1/24/2020 at 12:04 PM, WRGKMC said:

Thing is I never learned to type with all the fingers however. 

Might be time to learn. If you're a "two fingered" typist, and do a lot of it, I wouldn't be surprised if that is a contributing factor. As others have said, you need to address whatever the root cause is, and not just the symptoms. 

Best of luck - hopefully the shots will take care of things and you won't need surgery!

 

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On 1/23/2020 at 11:31 AM, gardo said:

Been through that too

Had a shot and it was good for a year or so. Eventually it came back though so I had another shot . This time the results were not quite as long lasting. The next step was going to be to release the pulley. They said that pulley really wasn’t needed. (yeah right) There would be a small incision in the palm of my hand near the finger. Then they would simply snip open the pulley that the tendon was catching on. I didn’t like the sound of that plan so I delayed doing anything. A few months later I retired from my job turning wrenches and now the finger is fine. 

Something needs to change , I hope you can find a way 

 

I'm just curious, how long did it take from you retiring from the cause of the injury (turning wrenches) until your finger felt fully recovered? IE how long of a break did it need for full recovery?

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2 hours ago, Mooncat84 said:

I'm just curious, how long did it take from you retiring from the cause of the injury (turning wrenches) until your finger felt fully recovered? IE how long of a break did it need for full recovery?

That was a year ago . it seems like it was improving after about a month.  I didn't really take note of the time .But today it is fine

It never did give trouble playing because I don't close my hand that far. 

 

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About ten or so years ago I had a serious bout of tendonitis. I thought I was finished as a guitar player.

The doctors wanted to cut me and I would not let them.  The fix turned out to be Yoga.

Now that I know something about it, I believe Yoga is the single best thing a person can do for him or her self.

I now see the tendonitis as a blessing because it got me off my duff and on to the Yoga mat.

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9 hours ago, onelife said:

About ten or so years ago I had a serious bout of tendonitis. I thought I was finished as a guitar player.

The doctors wanted to cut me and I would not let them.  The fix turned out to be Yoga.

Now that I know something about it, I believe Yoga is the single best thing a person can do for him or her self.

I now see the tendonitis as a blessing because it got me off my duff and on to the Yoga mat.

Anything that get you out of a chair and up and moving is a awesome.  Yoga is every easy on the joints too.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I myself can not type. When I was in High School in the 70's most of the kids that took typing were women, and there was a few guys in the typing class too. The typing class right across the hall from the science classes I had. It was done on a manual typewriter. Ouch. 

 

There is a way out though. I got a copy of Dragon Speakeasy 20 years ago and had it on a very old Windows XP computer. It was kind of a pain in the butt to train. However it did work. I used it for a while. When my wife wanted a lap top I got a copy of it for her. She doesn't use the laptop much.

I believe the key to it is reading the story slowly and accurately and not quickly. 

I'm not sure it does fancy mathematical inputs, but I used it for written prose.

I retired a while ago at the young age of 57. I got out while the getting was good and I'm doing well. The new people I work with got to be nasty and catty, unlike the old folks I used to work with. Dragon is available for Androids and iOS phones. I see kids these days type with there thumbs like people used to type with a keyboard. Not the best reviews, so do the research, before you spend you money.

Yes I typed this out with a few fingers on my good old keyboard.

 

 

 

 

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