Ringing Fingers?

Ringing Fingers?

I’m officially a part-time paid musician now, and maybe close to a quarter of that time is played on fiddle. I never paid this much mind before, cause it would come up so rarely, but I’ve noticed an occurrence when playing fiddle for over an hour and a half straight. My fingers ring, giving the sensation of my bones vibrating. It’s not particularly uncomfortable, and not all that debilitating, but mentally it’s like, "Maybe it’s time to call it a day?". But who wants to call it quits when there’s a generous flow of cash falling? If the situation allowed it, I would just switch to piano but, that’s not entirely workable, or convenient. All the extra equipment and what not. I’m also not sure if it’s a sign of some other problem. It lasts so long, several hours sometimes, i’m not sure if it’s damaging. Anyone know of this phenomenon?

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You might be describing carpal tunnel syndrome. Or it could just be your muscles are tired.
I’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel which is from many years of playing the box. Mine has translated into numbness after playing for extended periods. I also have trouble sleeping without a wrist brace since my fingers go numb if I lay on my arms wrong.

I laid off playing for about a year and symptoms improved, but after picking it up again recently, the old problem has returned. I intend to do something about it, hopefully not surgery although I hear it’s not that bad a procedure.

You should probably see a doc.

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I thought carpel tunnel syndrome was a painful tension in the wrists? This doesn’t hurt at all, and it’s in my fingers. It also doesn’t incapacitate me. I can still play, comfortably. It just feels like my fingers are vibrating inside.

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The ulnar nerve in the forearm can get squeezed and that leads to numbness also. There are exercises and stretching video’s on You Tube to help with that problem.

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I can get that on my mandolin or fiddle if I play too many fast tunes for too long. I think it’s from the repeated small impacts and it also aggravates my osteoarthritis if I don’t back off.
The trick I’ve found is to really back-off on the pressure and spend some time thinking about playing with a lighter touch. The thing is it’s easy to get carried along by the flow of the tunes and let their excitement translate into stopping the strings with greater gusto as the excitement rises.

It eases or I can prevent it if I make sure I spend a while a couple of times a session just getting all zen like about concentrating on using a ‘feathery’ touch to stop the strings. But it’s not always possible to catch myself before I’ve been tapping away too hard for too long. If I swap to my mandoloncello or the tenor guitar a few times then that provides a useful reminder point and those don’t bring it on the same way as the speed is in the right hand rhythm rather than the left hand ornaments.

I suppose a viola could be an option to help as the larger courses would give a less sharp impact and you can get double cases for those so you don’t have the logistics problems of loads of cases.

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Thank you AB for that radically informative video! And thanks bothy, I’ll look into it.

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I have severe tingling at times, and moderate numbness. Doc says it’s moderate carpal tunnel and wants to do surgery. I almost never feel pinching or tightness in my wrists.

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I’ve been the full route on carpal tunnel (both hands), nerve entrapment (right arm), a collapsed left wrist and currently a thoroughly messed up left hand from an infected cat bite. Any one of these things can be pretty debilitating but of all of them, carpal tunnel is the most easily remedied. Get the surgery. Failure to do so generally means eventual damage to the nerves and then you’ll have a damaged hand and you won’t be playing at all. You don’t necessarily feel carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist but if you tap a finger against the palm of your hand and you feel ringing in the fingers, palm or wrist it’s time to do the surgery. BTDT.

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I think I’ve experienced what you describe at times. It’s a bit like pin’s and needles with me, with that slight numbness that you get with it. I’ve never really worried about it. I usually just take a break and move my fingers about for a while; then it goes. I’ve experienced this on-and-off for about 8 years (since i started fiddling), but I don’t get any pain whatsoever in my hands or fingers.

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I’ve had the surgery - developed carpal tunnel playing the harp. My hand doc started with steriod injections. After 3 of those (stretched out over months or even a year), you have to have the surgery. It wasn’t bad at all and fixed the problem; no issues since. The shots did help for a while but I was told I would eventually have to get the nerve repaired. FWIW, the symptoms were numbness and increasing discomfort in my fingers, not wrist.

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But if it’s carpal tunnel, wouldn’t it happen to your fingers when you played other instruments than the fiddle? And wouldn’t you feel the symptoms when doing other things? I interpreted Jerone’s description as only applying to fiddle, and that pretty much reflects how I experience it. I could play my guitar or zouk for hours without experiencing that same feeling developing in my fingers. Also, it doesn’t happen consistently. I had wondered, in fact if it only happens when I’m tense. or maybe I’m holding my hand too high for too long.

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Why not see a physical therapist Jerone? Round here (UK) the cost per half hour is roughly that of a music lesson.

And if you are teaching as a freelance will it be tax-deductable ?

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You’re right Gobby. I never feel any pain when playing piano, or doing my 100% hands on job at work. I can play my piano up to 6 hours before getting bored, but I’ve never had to stop because of uncomfortableness, pain, or tension. And I work my manufacturing job 36-48 hours a week, and there are no problems there either. I don’t know. I think I’ll go with David’s suggestion and see a physical therapist.

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I have had a mild constriction or maybe bone spur in the carpal tunnel of my right hand for more than thirty years. But it only - and always - affects me when I play piano. I stopped playing piano regularly many years ago. Now I sit down to play once or twice a year. Regardless how relaxed I remain, I can go about 5 minutes before the wrist pain becomes unbearable.

Meanwhile, I can flat or finger pick for hours with no wrist pain.

With that said, I have recently developed guitar elbow in both elbows from overuse. Really painful, especially in my fretting arm. Guitar elbow is just like tennis elbow.

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There’s a lot of poor diagnosis by doctors regarding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. They see the symptoms in the wrist and hand, so can jump to the conclusion that’s where the problem lies in its entirety.
The video upthread shows that the problem can happen elsewhere, principally at the neck and shoulder. But to explain Carpal Tunnel more hollistically, think of the analogy of the nerve as a garden hosepipe. Someone stands on it, reducing, rather than preventing flow, downstream of this, it gets kinked round a step, which reduced the flow further, and then, seeing that the flow has reduced to a dribble, someone pulls on the pipe and makes the problem even worse. Each event contributes to what comes out at the ‘user’ end ( or the hand, in the case of the nerve).
A G.P. will often make a diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) without looking at the postural contribution from the neck /arm/shoulder. Before plumping for surgery (aka ‘make the bad thing go away’) get the postural alignment of the whole run of the nerve as optimised as possible. Seek out a decent physio’ . You might not need surgery , or if you had it, and it didn’t meet expectations, look to the posture. You never know. might be pure CTS, localised to the wrist, or it might be that there are also contributions to the symptoms upstream. It’s not that common that just ‘one link in the chain’ is the entire problem.

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I couldn’t agree more with Mikebill on the above; for over two years I had extreme swelling in my left index finger until eventually I could not play anything at all. After shots (useless) and various other efforts (useless and probably worsened it) I went to a recommended alternative healer (and yes, I was skeptical…) who almost instantly brought about massive improvement by working on almost everything BUT my finger. She did a lot of work on my shoulder/arm/posture and so on. I would say that after two sessions with her over a year or so that I am 95% better, thankfully. So be it physio/alternative or whatever you can think of, do consider Mikebill’s wise advice. I strongly suspect that if I had had some kind of surgery I might still not be playing because The Problem With My Finger Was Never In My Hand. Thanks all for this important post.

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P.S. That’s not to suggest that surgery is never the answer, just not always the answer. It is however, one that seems to come too quickly from some doctors.

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Thank you both!

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Many injuries are not caused by *overuse*, but are caused by *misuse*.
This could be tennis or guitar elbow, rotator cuff problems, and hurting hands or fingers with any instrument.

It is interesting that your fingers *ring* while playing fiddle, but not from playing a double-stringed instrument such as mandolin which require the strings to be firmly on the fingerboard. Perhaps the single fiddle strings touch a bad place on the fingertips. Steel strings are thinner and harder than synthetic core strings — I wonder if a change of strings would improve the situation, but I doubt that would prevent it.

In any case, I recommend not at all touching the strings to the fingerboard, that is: no *stopping* the strings. This is recommended by many violinists, tho not known about by most players. See: Kato Havas - A New Approach to Violin Playing. Her approach also cures and prevents tensions and pains.

When you touch the strings only deeply enough to make the pitch, you will notice that your fingertips buzz, but in a good way. The vibrations of the strings can be felt in the fingertips — a surprising, and extremely sensual experience. When I began to play this way, I laughed alot while playing due to these sensations.

Also, not pressing strings to fingerboard requires only half the distance in each direction (down/up), thus allowing for much quicker playing. Fiddlers have posted here about playing fast, and this will help, provided - of course - that the mind knows clearly ahead of time its instructions for the fingers.

Physical overdoing is misuse. Discover for yourself how little effort is actually required to make music.
And have fun!

vlnplyr

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[*In any case, I recommend not at all touching the strings to the fingerboard, that is: no *stopping* the strings. *]

I smile every time I read about this idea. Why not just remove the fingerboard? After all, it’s only a guide 🙂

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Hi there I’m a nutritional therapist and have had success treating carpal tunnel with Pukka Turmeric Active which is a natural anti inflammatory containing turmeric and boswellia with lots of side benefits ! Worth a try.