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Mallet Finger Injury


Call Me Bob

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I injured my finger last week; I ruptured the extensor tendon in the ring finger of my left hand (I play right-handed). As a result, the tip of my finger just hung down, and I could not make it move. I have sensation in the finger tip, but the tendon that controls movement in the tip of my finger was severed.

 

I went to the ER, and then an orthopedic surgeon. My finger has to remain splinted for 6 weeks, and then rehab. As a result, I have put 2 bands and 8 other people out of work indefinitely; either until I return, or until I can be replaced.

 

I don't know if anyone here has suffered through this type of injury, but if you have, I'd like to know if you've had a full recovery, and what I might expect after I get the splint taken off. I think the doctor was good, but I also felt like he didn't fully understand how I need my finger to actually work, and not just look.

 

Any help here will be greatly appreciated. I'm very afraid that I might not be able to play as well as I once did.

 

Thank you!

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Well clearly this is a question best addressed by professionals but, to put it in some context-your body concentrates its healing energy in your center mass. That is the area around your chest and torso. A fingertip is way out in the sticks, there are no vital organs there. If you get some environmental stress that is one of the first things to go. To keep your fingertip stimulated and active sends signals to your brain that `yo hello, I`m talking to you`. You still have feeling there, good-use it. Personally I like toothpicks. Tapping and sweeping type motions are indicated.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

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Yes, welcome to the GPF, TelesSratsPauls, and, yes, I wish you a speedy and full recovery!! Your description of the injury symptoms gives me the heeby-jeebies!

 

And Skip- THAT sounds like excellent advice, keeping up fingertip/nerve/brain stimulation like that!

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Thanks Caev-as I said I don`t want to create diversions from qualified

medical diagnosis and treatment, but I have consulted some worthy sources myself-the less I need to worry about insane medical expenses the better.

Hopefully I can pass some of that benefit along.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

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I sincerely appreciate the replies very much! Thank you!

 

I'm not looking for medical advice here, but I'm trying to get an idea about what I might expect after the splint comes off, based on the (unfortunate) experiences of other guitar players.

 

It was probably a good thing that I was scared right away and I immediately went to a hospital, where my finger was splinted, and then to the reputable orthopedic surgeon 2 days later. He made me feel like my finger would probably work again--I think he called it a "functional injury"--but I don't know if he actually understood what I needed as a guitar player.

 

Now I'm just waiting to see things like what kind of mobility I'll have, will it affect my vibrato or ability to bend strings, if I'll have pain in the tip of my finger, and/or if I will be able to play for any length of time without developing tendinitis or some other unknown complications.

 

I'm sure the healing process would probably be different for everyone; I'm just still a little freaked-out about seeing my fingertip just dangling, with no ability to move it. :\

 

38 days to go....

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Hi there TSP. Buddy I was a motorcycle mechanic for 23 years doing it to support my music and even now my new job of 12 years or so involves swinging a hammer a lot and working with all kinds of evil tools.

 

I have never seen that with the fingertip dangling, but I have beat the shit out of my hands and fingers before. I did see a friend pull a finger right out of the joint and the end bone pushed in over the bone next to it. :sick::o:sick: He is okay now though.

 

Awesome you went in right away!! :thu:

 

I wish you well with it.I would like to echo what Skip says...keep moving that puppy around as soon as you are allowed. Once out of the splint start exercising the finger and stretching it through full range of motion. This based on what your Doc says of course.They are waaaaay conservative usually though.

 

What happened to me once is a tendon came off and then re-attached and I did not work it so the tendon is shorter and my finger always a bit bent. Rt hand pinky so I am lucky.

 

The other thing I want to say is to hold a positive mental image in your head 24/7 of that finger healing 100% with no detriment to you. Everytime the bad thoughts come, push them out and see that finger fully healed and you burning on guitar.

 

Consciously create your circumstances.

 

Even when you talk about it, don't talk in terms of "if" your finger heals up...talk in terms of "when" it heals up.

 

Beat this thing buddy. You are in good hands...the surgeon has done his part...do your part keeping the splint on for the duration and then once he gives you the word, rehabilitate that puppy!!

 

Over and above all of this...... when you start feeling down about it....remember, or read up on, Django Reinhardt who overcame a crippling injury to his left hand where he lost fingers and went on to be one of the the father's of jazz guitar and one of the greatest players who ever lived.

 

Bonne chance mate!!!

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I've been playing for 30+ years. My main axe of late has been a Heritage 535, but I have a pretty nice selection to choose from (if I may say so myself), acquired over the years. I like to play blues and hard rock mostly, but I'm also comfortable in a few different genres; jazz, punk, bluegrass, old country....whatever. I just like to make music. I record at home, and I play occasional gigs with a couple of local bands, which I hope to do a lot more of in the future. I also dabble with drums (not too fast!), and some keyboards to a lesser extent.

 

Lately I've been running my signal through a Peterson Strobo Stomp, then a Fulldrive2 MOSFET, a Keeley-modded Rat, and a Boss DD-6. That goes into either a Mesa DC-10 2x12, or a Fender Concert 1x12, depending on the band I'm with (one band is more country/blues/rock, the other band is more classic rock). I also have a Fender Champ 112, and a 50-watt Marshall Plexi reissue that I run through one of 2 Avatar 2x12s; one of those is loaded with 20w greenbacks, and the other one with Vintage 30s.

 

Here's some of the family.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v305/Bob9461/guitars.jpg

 

1992 LP Custom Plus

2001 Les Paul '61 reissue

2005 SG Classic

1995 Tele

1979 Hardtail Strat

 

1989 Guild D-25

2000 Explorer '76 reissue

2003 P-bass

2007 Taylor 612-ce

 

I also have the Heritage 535, a Fender HSS Strat, and a G&L ASAT Classic

 

Thank you all again for answering in this thread, I really appreciate it very much.

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Nice "family"! :D:cool: No less than a mere seven of 'em seem to really have my number! :thu::cool:

 

I dig your appreciation of a wide variety musical styles, too. Sounds kinda like me.

 

When tuning with your StroboStomp, do you use different temperament presets for different guitars, or all the same? I have one, and I've found that I really like the "sweetened" GTR preset for Les Pauls and PRSs and such "short" scale-length guitars, but might like either that OR the straight-up EQU equal-temperament preset for Strats and other "long" scaled guitars...

 

When you eventually get back to full-steam and playing guitar again, check out both the J. Everman 'Octave-X' and Foxrox 'Octron' octave-fuzz pedals- they kill!- switch to the neck-pickup, and hook 'em up to that Plexi...

 

Start out at or above the 12th-fret, playing single-note and double-stop lead bits; depending on the guitar, the sound you want (and whether you're using the Octron's "Direct" knob to blend-in a straight signal), you may want to try rolling-back the guitar's tone-knob, too.

 

Also be SURE to try each of 'em in various combinations with your Rat and Fulldrive pedals, with the octave-fuzzes first, particularly for use with your Fender or Mesa/Boogie; they work VERY well feeding other overdrive/distortion pedals, getting nicely smoothed-out, fattened, and warmed-up. 'Octron > Oct-X' is a cool combination in itself, as would be either pedal hitting the input of your Rat or Fulldrive.

 

Neither pedal goes well at all with a wah in front, though placing a wah after 'em could be OK, if you already like wah after overdrive/distortion/fuzz...

 

Oh, and try varying degrees of rolling back your guitar's volume-knob just a smidge or so, playing with a light but percussive, clucking attack, and finding various fuzz and ring-modulation sounds that are dependent on fretboard-position and picking-attack. Echoes and feedback are your friends here, too.

 

That's my story an' I'm stickin' with it! :D

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Nice "family"! :D:cool: No less than a mere seven of 'em seem to really have my number! :thu::cool:

 

Thank ya.

 

When tuning with your StroboStomp, do you use different temperament presets for different guitars, or all the same?

 

All the same.

 

I have one, and I've found that I really like the "sweetened" GTR preset for Les Pauls and PRSs and such "short" scale-length guitars, but might like either that OR the straight-up EQU equal-temperament preset for Strats and other "long" scaled guitars...

 

Good to know...I'll give it a shot.

 

When you eventually get back to full-steam and playing guitar again, check out both the J. Everman 'Octave-X' and Foxrox 'Octron' octave-fuzz pedals- they kill!- switch to the neck-pickup, and hook 'em up to that Plexi...

 

I like the Frantone Cream Puff, too.

 

I have a bunch of other f/x, too. an '82 TS-9, a TC Electronics SCF, a Fulltone Clyde, and an old GT-5 that I think the battery died in. I don't use the Swiss Army-style boxes anymore.

 

Start out at or above the 12th-fret, playing single-note and double-stop lead bits; depending on the guitar, the sound you want (and whether you're using the Octron's "Direct" knob to blend-in a straight signal), you may want to try rolling-back the guitar's tone-knob, too.

 

 

Also be SURE to try each of 'em in various combinations with your Rat and Fulldrive pedals, with the octave-fuzzes first, particularly for use with your Fender or Mesa/Boogie; they work VERY well feeding other overdrive/distortion pedals, getting nicely smoothed-out, fattened, and warmed-up. 'Octron > Oct-X' is a cool combination in itself, as would be either pedal hitting the input of your Rat or Fulldrive.

 

Neither pedal goes well at all with a wah in front, though placing a wah after 'em could be OK, if you already like wah after overdrive/distortion/fuzz...

 

Oh, and try varying degrees of rolling back your guitar's volume-knob just a smidge or so, playing with a light but percussive, clucking attack, and finding various fuzz and ring-modulation sounds that are dependent on fretboard-position and picking-attack. Echoes and feedback are your friends here, too.

 

That's my story an' I'm stickin' with it! :D

 

Thanks, I'll keep it in mind for WHEN I get back to playing! :cool:

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I winced reading this... oy vey...

 

Didn't Jimmy Page smash a finger in a train door or something and have to develop a (temporary) 3 finger technique for a Zep tour in the 70s? 1976? That's in my head for some reason, and if so there's probably a story on it that would be of interest/help.

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I know that Page broke a finger fairly recently; but I don't know when.

 

What I got.

 

Looking at my fingertip just dangling, and with no way of moving it reflexively was scary. :freak:

 

The very first thing I did was to pick up a guitar and try to play an open G chord. I couldn't make my ring finger move to the right string. I thought that I had somehow broken my finger by simply putting my hand inside my pocket (I still don't know what happened to cause this).

 

'Hmmmm...can't play an open G chord....dude wtf?'

 

"Hospital. Now."

 

I can also feel the skin under the bandage starting to blister on the back of my finger, as I was told it would. Yay for rotting skin. :rolleyes:

 

Oh well. Onward and upward....

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Best of luck. Let's hope it's back to normal. Can't say I'm not slightly terrified at there not being a remembered cause.

 

I found something about the Page thing earlier, it was in 1975 or 76, the tour for Physical Graffiti. He just came up with a way to play around using the fingertip he'd smashed in a train door.

 

One of my best friends and sometimes musical collaborators broke both of his arms at the forearms in a motorcycle accident. He came to and was trying to take off his helmet because he couldn't breathe that well and his hands "wouldn't work." He struggled and lifted them up to where he could see them and they were just dangling there... then he just blacked out. That took a lot to get back to playing... and his day job is working as a flooring contractor/carpenter, so that was a pain... but he got back to it.

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When tuning with your StroboStomp, do you use different temperament presets for different guitars, or all the same? I have one, and I've found that I really like the "sweetened" GTR preset for Les Pauls and PRSs and such "short" scale-length guitars, but might like either that OR the straight-up EQU equal-temperament preset for Strats and other "long" scaled guitars...

 

Wouldn't you call the PRS a sort of third, middle scale length category? It's longer than a Gibson & shorter than a Fender, which kinda feels ideal to me.

 

Scott Fraser

Scott Fraser
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Best of luck. Let's hope it's back to normal. Can't say I'm not slightly terrified at there not being a remembered cause.

 

Thank ya.

 

Apparently, it doesn't necessarily take a whole lot for it to happen; I've read that it can happen changing a bed sheet, or putting a sock on. The only thing I can think of was that I was trying to push my pocket down, and I accidentally jammed my finger. I felt it right away, and I actually heard it snap, but what actually caused it....I have no recollection of doing anything specific. It didn't really hurt a whole lot. Didn't swell, and there was no bruise that I could see at that time. It's actually more sore now then when I did it--but I think that also has to do with the minor skin discomfort, and, hopefully, that it's healing.

 

Bizarre, freak accident. S'all I got.

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When tuning with your StroboStomp, do you use different temperament presets for different guitars, or all the same? I have one, and I've found that I really like the "sweetened" GTR preset for Les Pauls and PRSs and such "short" scale-length guitars, but might like either that OR the straight-up EQU equal-temperament preset for Strats and other "long" scaled guitars...

 

Wouldn't you call the PRS a sort of third, middle scale length category? It's longer than a Gibson & shorter than a Fender, which kinda feels ideal to me.

 

Scott Fraser

 

Yeah, prolly kinda sorta; I just tend to think of PRS guitars as being more Gibsony than Fendery in feel and tone, and most PRSs are either 25" or even shorter than the LPs, so I tend to lump 'em together; and I've tuned a friend's PRS with my Strobo', and the GTR pre-set with the "sweetened" temperament seemed to suit it very nicely, similar to the way it suits my LP.

 

IIRC, both Danelectros and Dobros usually also have a 25" scale-length. I haven't tuned any of either with my Strobo' on either setting, though.

 

OK, back to the healing process! :D

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Hi TSP

 

I am a guitar player of over 25 years but I also have the pleasure of building them also (in an amatuer fashion). Unfortunately while using my table saw I suffered an accident and nearly severed my left index finger, and yes I am right handed. The finger luckily is intact but the saw blade took out the nail and blew out the tip of the finger which they were able to stitch. I am about three weeks into recovery and actually played for the first time today, tentively. still sore but the bothersome part is the tip is (and will be for awhile) numb. That's not the only injury suffered to my left hand. I dislocated the ring finger of the left hand while playing Racquetball a few years back. In addition to being a guitar player and builder I am a registered nurse. I am not giving you medical advice but telling you about my experience...

 

I had to give my finger time to heal. Pay attention in present to things like overall nutrition, rest and stress. They all will make a large difference in recovery. Keep your head in the game. Like another poster said, mentally keep those pathways active. Pay attention to the other fingers on that hand and your wrist. Excercise them regularly. They sell little hand held finger squeezes but there are a lot of things you can do. I don't know how big a splint you have but I try and 'play' every day, even if it means just using my bottom three fingers. I also am trying to pick up the slide guitar as well as try more open tunings. In the open tunings I am working on my right hand fingerpicking and strumming and timing.

 

With the dislocation, the doctor had told me they take longer to heal then a break. He said I wouldn't be able to play for at least 2-3 months. I was playing (with a lot of pain) in one month. It took about 4 month to be back where I was playing well but I progressed after at a much quicker rate after that, your mileage may vary. The biggest obtacle you will face is quite a bit of deterioration in the form of flexibility, weakness and lack of stamina. In other words, you will have to put it through rehabilitation to build it back up again. With the dislocation I had to learn to fully extend the finger and stretch the tendon and scar tissue. Very painful. With this one I think it will be a problem with sensitivity as in numbness. Nerve damage takes a lot of time to heal. The positive side of rehabilation is it was actually a chance to undo some of my left hand bad habits. It forced me to slow down and think about the mechanics again. The down side is that it is slow and painful. Do not expect to be where you were for a little while. Time will heal it and you will be the better player for it. Think of it as 'paying your dues'.

 

Hope that helps?

Good luck!!!

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Uncharacteristically for me, I'm subconsciously worrying that I will get this injury... it's turned up in dreams and sudden bits of anxiety when doing things where my fingers could get yanked or smashed. I think it's that you don't know how it happened.
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Thanks for the post, acousticplayer. I've been doing very much of that; bending the other fingers, and giving stimulus to the injured fingertip. I'm trying to keep a realistic outlook of how long it will take to get back to form after my finger heals.

 

I can't bend the ring finger at all for 6 weeks, or I will risk having to go back to square one again if the fingertip droops. I'm just going to take it reallly sloooooow. I do have some concerns about how much pain there will be to put pressure on it, and also how this might limit my ability to play for extended periods of time, but I'll cross those bridges when I get to them.

 

(and probably mess around with some open tunings in the meantime)

 

I'm sorry for causing any bad dreams, but believe me, mine have been pretty damned messed-up too! I don't know if it'll help you (subject change), but I say 'Brooklyn Decker' before I go to sleep, and then just hope for the best! ;)

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TeleStratsPauls > I had this injury last year to the index finger on my right hand. I slipped and bashed the finger into a wall. No pain but when I looked at it the tip was bent. So I tried to straighten it but it kept going droppy again. Since there was no pain I wasnt too worried but it was still bent at the last join the next day so I went to casualty at my local hospital. They xrayed it, looked at the results and said 'mallet finger'. They put a small splint on and a said you have to keep the finger straight for 6 - 8 weeks while the tendon heals. They also said when you take the splint off to wash make sure you keep it staight. They gave me an appointment after 6 weeks to see how it was doing.

 

Like you I had some fungus infection on the skin because the skin got quite moist under the splint.

 

Anyway after 6 weeks they look at it again and said the tendon had mended and refered me for physio. I had a couple of appointments with him, he gave me various bending an stretching exercises in order to get the joint moving again. This phase of recovery the finger actually hurt a bit. I found I had to use a thin pick for a while to play guitar just to reduce the force going through the finger. Now about 15 months after the injury the finger is almost normal. The tip still isn't quite straight but I think that every thing you do involves curving your fingers so better a little bent and moving than dead straight and stiff... I would say it took me about 1 month between taking the splint off and getting back to normal but during that time I was very conscientious about the exercises. Also I didn't push it when it got tired, I just had a rest and went back to it later.

 

So I reckon you can make a full recovery in time. Best wishes for your rehab

 

 

 

 

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