Numb finger - not condusive to playing guitar...

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Shamus, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. Shamus

    Shamus Supporting Member

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    About a month ago, I was refinishing hardwood floors in my bride and I's new home. I had to do a bunch of edge sanding and noticed that my left pointer finger was fairly numb afterwards many hard hours of sanding.

    In the time since, the numb feeling has gotten better, but not completely. It's that tingly, asleep kind of feeling that is more annoying than anything - but it's impeding the feel of that hand while playing guitar.

    Any of you guys experienced this before? I'm assuming there is some slight nerve damage. I'm a healthy and fit 34 year old, and the notion of permanent damage to my chording hand has me quite worried.

    I don't want to go pay a doctor to tell me what I think I already know.

    Thanks,
    Shamus
     
  2. Ud Reks

    Ud Reks Member

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    I have ulnar nerve damage, which makes my pinky and, um, third fretting finger numb.

    Hasn't gone away after two years and seeing many doctors.
     
  3. Shamus

    Shamus Supporting Member

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    Damn, that sounds like what I'm experiencing. It's not Carpul T. Syndrome..
     
  4. sqadan

    sqadan Member

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    Go see a doctor... Carpal Tunnel or Repetative Stress Disorder are not problems to take lightly... They can go from being annoying to very painful in short order.

    The other possibility is a pinched nerve... But one way or the other - don't ignore it hoping it will get better.
     
  5. Ud Reks

    Ud Reks Member

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    The ulnar nerve is in your elbow. If you were leaning on your elbow while working that would be the culprit. The numbness runs all the way down your forearm.

    I know many people whose ulnar nerve problem has never been resolved, but I met them all after I ran into the problem.

    The first doctor actually made matters worse by insisting I sleep with a brace.

    Well, when I sleep, apparently I don't keep my arms straight, and the next doctor said I made the situation worse by restricting blood flow.

    I said to him, "No, I didn't make my problem worse. The medical profession did."

    That being said, a lot of feeling came back, just not all the way. I can still feel numbness now as I type.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  6. jaycee

    jaycee Member

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    Go see a doctor before you go out and start buying splints and braces and stuff. You might not need them and in some cases they can be more harmful than helpful. I had some tendonitis going on and bought a wrist brace. The shape of some braces can put pressure on other nerves and tissue and cause problems there as well.
     
  7. maccampbells

    maccampbells Member

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    I had the same thing after sanding floors for a week. Took about a month for the nerves to repair themselves. At least I think that's what they did.
     
  8. diego

    diego Member

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    See a neurologist. A good doctor will lead you to physical therapy and exercises that you can do get rid of the numbness, before it spreads.
     
  9. prsisbest

    prsisbest Member

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    I would definitely see a doctor, and I would also recommend not sanding any more floors, leave that to the non-guitar playing set. LOL!
     
  10. pennylink

    pennylink Member

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    I've had the same problem on my fretting hand for about a year and a half. Have seen 2 neurologists and I've also tried acupuncture without much success, although I think the condition has gotten slightly better on its own. I've been told that nerves will often repair themselves, but it can take years.

    There are 3 nerves that run from the top of the spine down the shoulder and through the elbow towards the hand. One of those nerves goes to your pinky and ring finger (actually to one side of your ring finger), the other two nerves go to the remaining three fingers and the other half of the ring finger. The numbness can be caused by the nerve being restricted or pinched somewhere on its way to the hand, quite often in the elbow.

    At first I found it made playing very awkward, but with perseverance I seem to have gotten used to it. Whenever I get frustrated I think of Django Reinhardt and Jerry Garcia, who were both scintillating guitarists with less than perfect hands.

    In any event, I would recommend seeing a specialist, as there can be other reasons for this, and not everyone's case is the same.
     
  11. townsend

    townsend Member

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    I'm sorry you have this problem but will try to help out.

    Much of this thread is about ulnar nerve problems, and but that is not your problem. The ulnar nerve innervates the little finger and 1/2 the ring finger. It usually gets compressed at elbow (less often at wrist).

    This isn't carpal tunnel either. The median (or "carpal tunnel") nerve innervates the thumb, index, middle finger, and "the other" 1/2 of the ring finger. This problem arises from wrist.

    I assume by pointer finger you mean "index" finger (finger adjacent to thumb). The only way to explain numbness/tingling of this finger alone is to posit that the digital nerves in that finger were irritated (possibly damaged) by your aggressive sanding. (There are a series of digital nerves that run the length of the finger.)

    The good news . . . some of the numbness has resolved, i.e., you are healing, but you still have some numbness and tingling. The good news . . . give it more time. You may want to 1) take an anti-inflammatory for 2-4 weeks to see if that will promote the nerve healing. (Of course, some people have problems w/ anti-inflammatories, so caveat emptor). 2) The other recommended course of action is let this finger rest. Obviously, don't do any more sanding or "pointer" finger intensive activities. Maybe this means laying off the guitar for awhile. You probably just stretched or irritated the nerve. Be patient, and we all hope for your full recovery.

    Going to a doctor is a fine course of action. If you choose to, I recommend a hand orthopedist, not a neurologist. People think "nerve" and immediately "neurologist" jumps in their mind, because of the prefix "neuro-." And neurologists are fine doctors who help many patients.

    But neurologists are specialists who diagnose and treat a wide variety of ailments. A neurologist is far more likely to treat headaches or progressive neurological disorders (e.g., multiple sclerosis). A hand orthopedist sees hand-and-arm complaints ALL DAY LONG.
     
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  12. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    What he said :agree

    I've had ulnar impingment so sever it required surgery - what you describe ain't that.

    GAD
     
  13. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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    I'm not a doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Now, here's what I'd do:





    Go see a doctor!
     
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  14. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

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    Shamus,
    Time will probably be your best friend.
    If it is from doing your floors it was induced over hard work for a period but not for years at a time.
    This is my humble opinion from one that does a lot of things repetitively for a living therefore- no charge.

    As a sidenote;
    One day before I ws due to have a guitar deliverd a few months back I came home form work and slammed my left index finger in the truck door that was also locked.

    The sad part was that my truck can only be unlocked from the other side.
    At 4 AM I had to yell (as if I could help it) till I woke my wife up inside the house (100' away) so she could come get the key and get me out of the GMC trap.

    Still waiting for that nail to grow back.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
  15. gang twanger

    gang twanger Member

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    Yeeeesh!!!!!
    Back in 2001, when I was working for a company that built self-storage complexes, I had an "incident". I was about 10 feet up on a ladder when it suddenly collapsed. I reached up for something to grab on to, which turned out to be a very sharp-edged piece of cosmetic sheet metal. I sliced the index, middle, and ring fingers of my left hand (my fretting hand) completely down to the bone, severing both the tendons and nerves of each. After dangling in the air by my right hand for a second, I fell and broke my back on the edge of a concrete foundation. I couldn't play guitar for a year. I still can't make a full fist, and to this day I still have some numbness. But if it wasn't for Dr. Cherry in New London (the best hand surgeon in CT, IMO, I would never have played again. Go to the doctor, just to be safe.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  16. diego

    diego Member

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    Hand specialists aren't always the best option, because the problems can start as far up as the neck. When I had problems with my hands and forearms, the hand specialists didn't look beyond their specialty areas, and a neurologist (doctor number six) was the one who actually came up with an accurate diagnosis and cure. It isn't that the problem is with the nerves, but that there is a problem impacting the nerves, most likely inflammation.
     
  17. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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    LOL. Years ago I had a similar incident. I parked my work truck out back. My rearview mirror had fallen off the windshield and when regluing it I crazy glued my thumb to the dash. I wound up pulling it off along w/ a bunch of skin!
     
  18. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

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    From my quote there it also appears to have greatly affected my typing skills.
    I'll have to go back and fix that!
     
  19. Shamus

    Shamus Supporting Member

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    Most excellent advice...

    Thanks everyone for chiming in. Gonna take the anti-inflammatories and try and lay off.... Now that is tough... :D
     
  20. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Member

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    Having this problem right now. Coincidentally I injured the same finger & ironically I did it trying to pull a knob off of my Charvel.
    It was nearly back to normal, but then I started having to take a blood sugar reading every morning.
    I stuck the side of that finger, right where it had been numb, twice in two days & now it's gotten more numb.

    That was three days ago & it doesn't seem to be getting better. My appointment with the doctor isn't for two more weeks.
    In the meantime I will try an anti-inflammatory.
    I'm not sure if pricking my finger sent the nerves into shock or what, but I've since been using other fingers.
     

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