Dear Ben, (or anyone else who has experienced this problem) I am somewhere between a beginner and intermediate level mandolin player, and have recently noticed a problem in my left hand. I seem to have developed a painful condition that feels like a pinched nerve in my index finger. If my guess is right, it has something to do with the way my first knuckle contacts the side of the neck near the nut while playing. The inside of my knuckle is painful, and radiates kind of a nerve pain into the tip of my index finger, with some degree of numbness in the tip of my finger where the pad contacts the strings. I don’t know if it is from bad technique, old age, a combination of both, or just the Lord sending me a message that he has grown weary of my practice, and wants me to play the kazoo. I have recently increased my practicing, but have had to quit playing for the last week or two in an attempt to see if the feeling will come back in the pad of my index finger. Any ideas, help, advice, especially from other mandolin players who have experienced this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance, Jim
I’m 60 and can relate to weird hand problems a we age.
Very hard to tell with this…pain could be coming from the fingertip as well and radiating up the finger (I’ve had this happen from pressing too hard)…
You can experiment with different .hand positions to see if it helps, but I’d recommend a hand dr. look at it, to see if there are other problems, if it doesn’t get better soon.
Do you use a strap? It might help to put less pressure on that knuckle…
Not having feeling isn’t a good sign…could have to do with circulation or nerves…best to get a professional opinion I believe.
I can tell you that my mando neck doesn’t touch my knuckle…it rests on the side of the pad area between knuckles.
It definitely radiates down, from the inside of my first knuckle to my finger tip, and if I press on the inside of that knuckle, it seems as though the nerve is irritated. Am I just “gripping” the side of the neck too hard with the inside of my first knuckle? It almost feels as though there isn’t enough meat on that knuckle to keep me from irritating the nerve. I have been using that inside part of the knuckle as a kind of anchoring device for my left hand, but maybe I just need to learn how to play with an open space between that knuckle and the neck. I seem to remember Mike Marshall talking about keeping that space open, the same way violin players do. Maybe I’ve just developed a bad habit and am using it as a crutch. Maybe a hand doc could give me a clearer perspective, as you suggest. I appreciate the input.
It is possible you’re gripping too hard. It takes a fair amount of concentration and work to not play, pick, or grip things harder than is necessary.
I do play fiddle and have that “space” you mention. It comes from making a 'V" with your thumb & first finger and setting the neck in the V.
The “meat” is very thin around the knuckle area, and I can see that being a possible problem.
That could be the answer, too. Maybe I need to readjust my hand position so that the meaty part between the knuckles is making the contact. That almost seems like the more logical explanation. I say this, because I didn’t have this problem a few months ago, until I started playing much more on a daily basis. I actually think I caused it myself. I will try making contact on the meaty part and see if it helps. Unlearning bad habits…ugh.
Best to catch these things before you ruin yourself somehow though.
You might try experimenting on how lightly you can finger things to get a clean sound also.
The combination of less finger pressure and the thumb taking on more of that pressure with an adjusted left hand position might just do the trick, if you haven’t permanently damaged anything yet.
I will try the lighter pressure, and involving the thumb more, and hope the damage isn’t permanent like you say.
Glad I jumped on here and asked for other people’s input. Thanks again.
Hope it gets better without any pesky Dr. bills.
Have a great holiday season, and I’ll see you around the forum.
At 72 I feel your pain. Take a break for a few days buddy and let your hand rest. It could just be a callous growing, (hard skin pad on the tip of your finger) If your concerned go see your Doctor.
Most musicians travel down this road at some time or another. A good stretching routine has helped me more than anything, and the pain improves in less than a week, (At least in my case), when I do this stretching routine.
Worth a shot…It’s free!
Lots of good advice on this forum! It would really help if you could post a pic of your left hand’s contact with the neck…maybe we could spot an issue? I’m sorry to hear about this! I’ve had things like this in the past and needed some time off from time to time.
I have the same exact thing. Diagnosis: tendonitis. Treatment: Advil and acupuncture. Slowly getting better. Hope this helps.
An accomplished chiropractor may be able to help, too. A couple of years ago my left shoulder would start burning after about 5 minutes of playing. Turns out I had some muscles around that area “turned off” from some old injury and my body just wasn’t compensating as well as it used to. The adjustments set things right and the burning went away.
I never thought about a chiropractor. My hands and arms go to sleep and burn pretty bad sometimes when playing from a seated position. Using a strap while standing helps a lot for me.
The right chiropractor can work miracles. Last Thursday I noticed my 3 year old son couldn’t hear very well at all. We play a little music machine for him for 30 minutes when he goes to bed. Even though it was on the shelf right by his head, he said he couldn’t hear it, so I whispered when he couldn’t see me and he didn’t hear me. The next day we took him to the doctor and he had a double ear infection. I felt horrible.
The weekend came and went, but the antibiotics weren’t helping his hearing, so I took him to the chiropractor. I knew that if she could give him the adjustments he needed, it’d help the fluid drain out of his ears and help him hear better, plus help speed recovery.
I kid you not… we got in the car after his adjustment and he grabbed his little device to play one of his movies and he said “That’s too loud.” He turned it down to where I could barely hear it, but he was still singing along with the songs.
I’m all about good chiropractors. It’s tough to find a good one, though.
@Mark_Rocka Same thing with my 4 year old granddaughter. She was getting ear infections one after other. A three minute visit to the chiropractor every two weeks and no ear infections.
I can’t argue with that…I’ve never been to one but my Grandfather used to swear by them for his back pain. I think your probably right about finding a good one. I’ve heard about as many bad stories as I have success stories.
So you need a chiropractor now?? j/k Glad your son is ok! But I never knew a connection between ear infection and chiropractic.
You should probably try this… Aachi brand Chukku Malli Coffee. Dry ginger based coffee. You should find it in nearby Indian store for $3.00 or around that price. Works wonders, helps with congestion, cold etc. You can drink even otherwise.
All natural ingredients and definitely would not hurt.
Oh yeah. If the bones around the ear canal are out of alignment, it can prevent fluids behind the ear drum from draining properly. I believe that’s what happened during the adjustment. Everything lined up and that fluid drained off.
Chiropractic is good for all kinds of things. I remember watching the movie Miracles From Heaven where the little girl’s digestive tract wasn’t working. No medical doctor could figure it out and they all said she was going to die. Then she fell out of a tree and was miraculously healed. I thought “Well dang! All she needed was a chiropractic adjustment!”
Thanks for the tip on the tea. We have an Indian store nearby. I’ll check them out to see if they have it.