Trigger Finger problem with left hand

Posted In: How To Play

  • Participant
    billooms on #211642

    Over the last month, I’ve developed “trigger finger” in my left hand (index finger and ring finger). The hand specialist I went to said it was common with musicians due to repetitive motion. I’ve been practicing music with a lot of low base chords on the metal strings, so I suspect that has caused (or aggravated) the problem. My instructor says my hand position and playing technique is fine. I practice from 1-1/2 to 2 hours a day. Two weeks ago, I had a cortisone shot, and that has not given any improvement. The doctor suggests minimally invasive endoscopic surgery.

    Any other harpists out there that have had “trigger finger”? How did you deal with it?

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #211643

    I developed a trigger finger(index finger, can’t remember which hand!) about 2 years ago. I tried some exercises and physical therapy, which really didn’t help. Then I got a cortisone shot, and it immediately went away completely and has not returned. I wonder if the shot in your case didn’t reach the affected area.

    Participant
    billooms on #211660

    Most people I’ve talked with said the cortisone shot relieved the symptoms for a while. In my case, no difference. So I suspect you are right that it did not reach the affected area.

    Participant
    Donna O on #211661

    Bill, Ask your doctor if the injection can be done with ultrsound guided imaging. That is the best way to assure the cortisone gets to the right area. Also I would seek care from a physician who specializes in treating hand and wrist problems if possible.

    Participant
    billooms on #211662

    The ultrasound guided injection sounds like a good idea — I’ll ask. Yes, the doctor specializes in hand/wrist problems only.

    Participant
    wil-weten on #211666

    Bill, you said your instructor thinks your hand position and playing technique is fine. Still, I would take a few lessons of and ask for a second opinion from a harp teacher with a solid understanding of the way the human body works. Think e.g. of Laurie Riley.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #211669

    I can tell you that, in my case at least, the trigger finger had nothing at all to do with playing, because I haven’t played to any extent in years. I’m not sure why it developed.

    Participant
    Donna O on #211671

    Carl, that is certainly possible. Trigger finger is caused by a narrowing of the tendon sheath that surrounds the affect finger tendon so that the tendon cannot glide smoothly. It can be caused by multiple different reasons including but not limited to inflammation, overuse, arthritic conditions, etc. If from overuse, it really is necessary to rest and examine technique to avoid reoccurences in the future.

    Participant
    billooms on #211673

    Contacting Laura Riley sounds like a good idea. However I suspect she might not be traveling to Arizona any time soon. I see from her web site that she does Skype lessons, but I don’t think that Skype is the best way to get a good close look at the finer points of hand position and finger motion from all angles.

    Participant
    Tacye on #211693

    I think it would also be interesting to consult a movement/body expert who did not have a knowledge of harp playing. They might suggest things which won’t work for the harp, but you should be able to find someone who knows a lot about hands.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #211994

    I have had trigger finger on two fingers. It is definitely from wear-and-tear from playing and underlying ailments. You do NOT need surgery. Surgery works, but also causes other discomfort. You do need a radiologist like mine, who uses ultrasound with guided needle therapy, both for exact injection of cortisone to reduce any inflammation, then stippling the tendon stirrup with the needle to soften it so the tendon can glide underneath it once more. My doctor, Levon Nazarian, MD, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, invented this method of treatment, which is useful for bursitis, tennis elbow, and all manner of soft-tissue injuries. Surgery is a permanent solution, but you can have irritation from the tendon rubbing directly against the muscles.

    Participant
    billooms on #212004

    Thanks for the information about the alternative treatment.

    Participant
    wil-weten on #212005

    You may also like to find out whether the Alexander Technique could be of some use to you.

    Participant
    debcrist on #216936

    I’m and occupational therapist as well as a harpist, but my speciality was pediatrics and not hands. A good friend who was a hand therapist for awhile suggested plunging your hand and wrist into cold ice water for 6 seconds after every 30 minutes of practice. It reduces inflammation.

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