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Old 03-24-2007, 06:56 PM   #1
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Piano Finger Gone Help!

Hello everyone, I just joined the boards and have quite a story to tell about my mysterious ailment that I hope someone can help shed some light on as it's been the bane of my existence for quite some time now.
I will try to keep it as short and summarized as possible:

I'm a 24 year old male, I have been playing piano for a few years. Everything was going pretty good. Two years ago in early 2005 I got a job in a butcher shop that seemed to have damaged my right hand pretty badly. Working in a very cold environment full time, often in the freezer, and using the meathooks to hoist and heave heavy chunks of meat all day I developed pretty bad "trigger finger" in most of the fingers in my right hand, with my middle and 4th fingers being the worst. During this 5 or so month period that I worked there, I did not play the piano anyway because I had no time since I had another part time job on top of this.
Eventually, after I quit the trigger finger mostly went away and I resumed playing the piano and had a very good first half of 2006.
Then towards the middle of 2006 my right hand, or more specifically, what I think to be my right middle finger, just began to fall part and come undone. Little by little I found it hard to control it and though at the time I had no idea of what was going on I later thought it to be a possible late onset focal dystonia (maybe it is but the coincidence is unlikely). Now, I am completely unable to play the piano and haven't done so since middle to late 2006 and can barely even type.
The description of the symptoms is as follows:
it first started as a sudden tendency of my middle finger to RISE everytime that my 4th (ring) finger was being used. Furthermore at times after playing I would feel a stiffness or tightness in the right hand and/or finger and sometimes slight shooting pains or tightness going down the whole bottom side of the forearm. To this day the middle finger rises uncontrollably everytime the 4th finger is being used (unless I am pressing down the 4th finger very slowly and isolated). But the biggest problem seems to be the middle finger just FEELS very weak in a sense. It's hard to describe but placing the fingers on the piano keys or the keyboard to type, the middle (3rd) finger simply doesn't seem to want to follow my brain's instructions to PRESS down and when it does so, it takes half a second longer than the rest of the fingers and feels umcomfortable in a strange way in the process. Any action my brain sends to the middle finger to press down seems to get delayed and causes the finger to feel tense or uncomfortable and like I said it rises into the air uncontrollably everytime the 4th finger is pressed down. Of course to an extent this is natural, as my left does this also but the right middle finger rises extremely high into the air to the point where it takes it very long (relatively speaking) to come back down and by then it makes playing passages in piano or typing at speed impossible!
Please help me shed some light on this or at least lead me to the right direction.

My primary questions are: is it possible that all of this is the cause of the injuries I sustained in that butcher shop and the severe trigger finger that afflicted my right hand? And if so, why did it not become full blown and completely deteriorate my hand into uselessness nearly a full year afterwards?
And the most important question obviously: what can I do to fix this and is it even possible to ever alleviate or fix this problem? Please help, any tips or ideas at all as this problem has for the most part ruined my life!

Thank you in advance for anyone that helps!

Note to moderators: please notify me if this is posted in the wrong forum as I have searched in earnest for a more fitting forum and have not found one - the carpal tunnel/arthritis was the closest but it's not it, I am 100% certain this problem is NOT carpal or arthritis!

 
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Old 03-24-2007, 11:32 PM   #2
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Re: Piano Finger Gone Help!

Can you go to a hand specialist? There are such docs, and they are amazing. It sounds like your Dupuytren's tendon may have "sprung" Surgery followed by physical therapy can fix this if that is what it is. I am sure that it can be remedied. I don't know about the cause, unless you played too much piano while it was still affected by the original difficulty.

 
Old 03-25-2007, 06:12 AM   #3
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Re: Piano Finger Gone Help!

Thank you for the advice, I DO want to find a hand doc but so far not sure where to look. I live in New York City, the alleged Mecca of the world's resources and yet my searches have still not yielded any results! I'll keep looking but can you please describe a little more what you mean about Dupuytren's tendon being "Sprung" and what does surgery exactly do to fix it?

As for your prognosis of cause, you may very well be right, you see after the butcher shop in 2005, the first half of 2006 was spent practicing an unprecedented amount, I played daily for 6-10 hours sometimes more. However, the strange thing is that I'd expect it to happen THEN, but instead it happened in the 2nd half of 2006 when I started practicing much less like 2 or 3 hours a day. However, perhaps it did START back then because even in early 2006 I think the finger was having some control issues but I suppose I never gave it much notice or something...

But just to give you a little bit more detail about it: there's other strange idiosyncrasies that occur, for example a few months ago I tried to fix it by "strengthening" the fingers and their controlling muscles. So I tied a rope to a weight and held the rope by the middle and 4th fingers and would lift it up and down. Well after doing this for a while, if I bent my middle finger inward close towards the palm, it would begin to uncontrollably shake very badly as if muscle spasm of some sort, but only when I bent it in towards the palm almost touching. Any explanation for this?????

Thank you again!

 
Old 03-25-2007, 06:24 AM   #4
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Re: Piano Finger Gone Help!

I only heard the term a few years ago when I worked with a lady who stopped being able to type or sort filing cards. Her fingers did the same thing that yours do. she went to a hand surgeon and had it fixed. She referred to it as Dupuytrens Tendon. There is a condition called Dupuytrens Contracture, where the little finger and/or the ring finger sort of contract towards the palm of the hand so the middle finger sticks out. Doesn't sound quite like yours, but similar. Look it up. Anyway, her hand was as good as new. The shaking thing sounds like the tendon too. An orthopedic surgeon is what you want, some of those specialise in hands. Good luck, Sera.

Last edited by Seraph; 03-25-2007 at 06:26 AM.

 
Old 03-25-2007, 10:32 AM   #5
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Re: Piano Finger Gone Help!

Hi, I just did some research on the "Dupuytren" tendon and the dupuytren's contracture as it's called. I don't think this is it because apparently in Dupuytren's contracture it's the 4th and 5th fingers that are affected and curl into the hand thus making the middle finger look like it's sticking out. But in my case the middle finger is the one that's affected and the 4th and 5th fingers are absolutely fine, and rather than curling IN towards the palm, the middle finger seems to RISE up in the air when using the 4th finger which is the complete opposite of the symptoms of the dupuytren problems I've just read about..
Furthermore, in daily use, the hand and finger are mostly fine, there's no pain or anything of the sort and I can fully use them it's just that there's a SUBTLE uncomfortable and unnatural feeling anytime that the middle finger must be used to press something down, and some days it's a lot worse where it just feels outright stiff and unable to be pressed down without a second of concentration.

I just wish I knew at least the GENERAL AREA of what this problem is.
Is it a TENDON, is it a NERVE, is it a MUSCLE?
It seems to be fine when all the fingers are stretched out, for example as I type this now if I stretch all of the fingers out as straight as possible (instead of assuming the "bubble in the palm" curved hand position as most typists and piano players use) then it seems fine and moves pretty well. However, it's when I curve all of the fingers that the problem arises.
And not just that but if I rest my curved finger hand on the keys and simply depress the key under the middle finger there's no problem. I can press down the middle finger quickly and effortlessly and there's no strange feelings or uncomfortable-ness. Yet it's when I am typing (or playing the piano) and the 2nd (pointer) finger and/or the 4th (ring) fingers are used then suddenly the middle finger must hesitate in between for some reason and begin to rise everytime that the 4th is used.
The most obvious seems to be when I have to use the 2nd finger in typing fast or playing a passage and if the 3rd finger must be used immediately after the 2nd, suddenly it stalls and can't quite be pressed down..
The strangeness of this situation in light of the fact that on its own the 3rd finger can behave normally causes me to think this might be some sort of strange nerve/neurological issue. Anyone have any ideas or have heard of anything like this???
Thanks again in advance..

 
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