Left hand index fingertip hurts when pressure applied

November 28, 2010 at 08:17 AM ·

Hi there!

I've noticed for the past few weeks (3 weeks maybe?) that my left hand index fingertip is possibly rougher than my other fingers and is less squishy when pressure is applyed to a flat surface or what not,  and it hurts. It's not shard shooting pains but it hurts and it feels as if its abit swollen. This is only on my left hand index finger tip, the part which comes in contact with the violin strings. The sides if i move my finger all the way left and right on a flat surface, the sides dont hurt, just the tip, feels weird.  My middle finger just slightttly hurts after practice but then it seems fine. My index finger has been like this since maybe a week or so after starting to play the violin.

Also, this thanksgiving week, i couldnt play the violin for like 4 days straight, and even so, it's still there )= Googling isnt making me feel any better lol.

Is this normal? I know when i started guitar, my fingerstips would hurt, but never did it last this long. I hope one of you can shine some light on me! This is alittle scary.

Replies (8)

November 28, 2010 at 12:14 PM ·

Wonder if you have something tiny in it as its swollen a bit?

November 28, 2010 at 01:03 PM ·

You will get callouses on your fingers just like you do with the guitar.  What kind of strings do you use?  I believe some need more pressure than others.  On another thread someone asked what strings require a lighter touch because his fingers were sensitive.  How is the action on the strings?  The violin that I have has a little higher nut than the rental I started with, requiring more pressure.  The luthier that I bought it from wants to file the nut down, which I plan to do when I can spend some time in her shop some afternoon and when she isn't too busy.  I've only been playing for 4 months but have been reading a lot and corresponding with several luthiers and asking a lot of questions while trying to solve a few of my own problems. 

November 28, 2010 at 01:18 PM ·

 Most of the time you don't actually need to press the string into contact with the fingerboard,  because fingerboard contact uses up more energy and makes fast fingering more difficult.  Practice placing the finger on the string and gently increasing the pressure until you get a clear tone; almost certainly the string will then still have some way to go before it hits the fingerboard!

Another good reason for not using too much finger pressure is that there is less wear on the strings.


November 28, 2010 at 02:23 PM ·

Hi there,

I had what you are describing for 4 months in university, and couldn't use the 1st finger (except if I put it down quite flat) at all.  I saw hand specialists (not helpflul), massage therapists (felt nice, but not helpful), acupuncture (not helpful), and other kinds of treatment.  Nothing helped.

I overpressed - pure and simple.  It took a few months off, and then learning to play without pressing the fingers down too hard (the above post is spot on regarding finger pressure).  If your instrument is set up well (see above post regarding the nut being too high), you should not need much pressure from the 1st finger - in fact not much more than the pressure required to press down the buttons on a touch-tone phone.

Take great care that when you try to play more loudly (with the bow) that you don't press harder with the Left Hand.  One of the very hard things about playing a string instrument I find.


November 28, 2010 at 02:31 PM ·

Forgot to mention - that you mention your first finger having a pronounced callous.  Callouses kind of feel a bit like a badge of honor for string players (like the hickey on the neck!), but actually are evidence that we are overworking.

I've heard it said of Josef Gingold, that even after hours of playing, when his fingers came off the fingerboard, they were soft and smooth - as if he hadn't been playing at all.

November 28, 2010 at 06:13 PM ·

Thanks for your replys!

Ah. Yeah it doesnt hurt or anything when im typing this post up, it only seems to feem realy weird when i apply pressure onto a flat surface or something. Feels kinda hard and as if tiny needles are pinching at it when i press it hard onto a flat surface. It also feels as if theres abit of a lump when i compare it to my right hands index finger. It feels better today than it did yesterday though and i have violin lessons yesterday lol. Isnt calluses something visable like peeling skin of some sort? Like a week back, skin on my index and middle finger did peel off. Though its weird, if i havent touched the violin for like 4 days, why was it still there lol i cant help but poke it lol.

November 29, 2010 at 01:03 AM ·

Cristene, although I can't see what you're doing that might be contributing to the problem, it sounds like a possible case of too much, too soon.  I'm drawing this inference from your statement that you're a beginner who has played a little over a month and has had roughness and pain for "3 weeks maybe."

When I come back from a hiatus -- e.g., from a road trip -- I'll practice maybe 15-30 minutes the first day -- and then increase the time each day.  After a week to 10 days, I'm back to my usual 3 hours a day -- no soreness, no danger.

Check out this thread on calluses.  What I have is the toughness or resistance Buri, the third respondent, mentions -- but nothing like what you've described.  Some people are naturally going to develop calluses more readily than others do.  The important thing is to build the toughness or resistance incrementally so that you don't injure the subcutaneous tissues.

If you have calluses, don't peel them -- although they may peel by themselves.  Try to keep them from getting too dry -- although this shouldn't be a major challenge in south Florida.  And don't file them -- except once in a while, minimally, to take away a rough edge that could snag a string or fabric -- or cause you to lose traction on the string.

Extending a bit from what others have said here: String tension, string height, and bridge height are important.  If in doubt, have a luthier or experienced player check out your instrument and setup.

Finally, if there's any question of possible injury, get a qualified physician's assessment of the condition.

November 29, 2010 at 04:08 AM ·

Theres nothing there on my finger to peel really. Its just tougher than my other finger tips. When i compare both index fingers by running it along my thumb, the left one seems to have abit of a bump. It feels better today then it did yesterday. It doesnt really hurt as much anymore, just when i apply pressure ( more pressure than typing on a keyboard ) if feels hard and pins feely type, but not like it HURTS hurts. Maybe i have been putting to much pressure onto that finger that theres a bruise or something under the skin? Doesnt feel like anythings stuck in there cause it doesnt feel like a blister or anything. Just dunno why it feels lumpyish like that.

And lol, i googled up foot corn, and i might just have a finger corn from applying way to much pressure on the strings? im guessing that is possible lol.

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