Strange finger swelling

August 5, 2006 at 07:52 PM · I woke up this morning and the upper half inch of my left index finger was swollen and painful to the touch. I don't recall hitting it against anything, and luckily most of the pain is on the "outside" of the finger, not where I play on the string. Still, I'm sort of puzzled as to how this could happen.

Anyone have similar experiences?

Replies (18)

August 5, 2006 at 11:13 PM · That happened to me on my middle finger and it hurt to touch but since it was on the outside I could still play. It went away after like a week.


August 6, 2006 at 12:21 AM · This is probably needless advice, but right now I know of two great studio violinists who are fighting to get their careers back, which is why I feel compelled to write this:

Get off the instrument until it completely heals!

Ice the heck out of it. A good way to do this is put water in Dixie cups and let them freeze. Then tear away the upper part of the paper and rub it on the inflamed area. About 6 min. of direct ice two-three times a day. This should really help (direct ice is OK if you keep the ice moving, not stationary on one place...and it is much more affective that way).

Lastly, try to be aware of anything else that is going on when you are paying...sometimes things like these can be a sign of something serious, and if you catch it in the early stages it is much easer to handle.

August 6, 2006 at 03:51 AM · Hmmm, sounds like a pinched nerve - likely a cutaneous nerve innervating the skin.

I could be wrong, Pieter, but chances are that the nerve will recover over the next few days with a bit of very gentle massage and slow limbering range of motion exercises with the finger.

Dr. Jay Azneer would rightfully slap me silly for giving you medical advice without a complete history and physical, but this type of thing has happened to me before. If it's what I think it is, you don't have to stop violin practice but do have to baby the injury a bit for the next few days. Beating up the injury will only make it worse, of course.

August 6, 2006 at 03:05 PM · It sounds like you have soft tissue inflammation secondary to one of bursitis, fasciitis, tendonitis, etc. As others have said, the best treatment is rest/ice (can be alternated with heat later on) until the pain subsides, along with NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen) to reduce inflammation. If it persists, you may need a steroid injection.

August 6, 2006 at 07:48 PM · I've been to a doctor 4 times in my life: Once when I was born, twice for stitches and then once to my family doctor when I had meningitis.

Pieter, when I was really young I used to now and then get this weird infection under the skin on the top of my right index finger. I believe it was caused by not taking care of hang nails. I would make a charcoal poultice and leave it on over night. The next morning it would be soft but still tender but within a couple days the infection would subside. The last time it happened (probably over 10 years ago) I asked my mom to bring a needle home from work (the ER) and after disinfecting my finger and hand I poked around in there and drew out some gross crap. It was kinda cool.

Anyway, you'll be fine. Just watch it and if you get scared see a doctor.


August 6, 2006 at 06:52 PM · Preston,

Both my parents are doctors. My mother, the kind, understanding one, was at a baseball game with my brother when I called. So, instead I got the ex-army guy who said "put ice on it". Click. My dad's very stoic with offering medical advise about non-lifethreatening matters. I had one sick day my entire life, and in fact, it was a half day because I went to school until 1:30 when I suddenly started bleeding profusely because of a fresh wound opening.

I figure it might be a hangnail... it's on the left side beside the nail on my index, and it's getting a lot better and I'm sure it will be fine.

August 6, 2006 at 07:44 PM · Ah, both doctors. "Put ice on it" sounds like my mom! haha! She's broken her toe, had a severe spinal infection, and a 5 month long dizzy spell and she always says..."Oh I'll be fine. No need to see a doctor".

LOL! Best way to get HER to see a doctor is Ether and garment bag. (Arrested Development anyone?)


August 6, 2006 at 08:32 PM · I just spoke to my mother... apparently I have something starting with a "p", and like she says, it's quite benign and probably due to a hang nail. I'm actually playing fine right now and it really doesn't hurt...

August 7, 2006 at 03:09 AM · Maybe it was a bug bite. :)

August 7, 2006 at 06:34 AM · Kat, I was thinking along similar lines...another thing that caused a similar phenomenon with me was contact with some dust, for some reason. There must have been something in the dust that my skin reacted to, because my finger swelled up a bit and became very tender for a day or two. I couldn't put my finger on the string to play violin, so I didn't play for a day.

August 7, 2006 at 08:03 AM · Strange, my first double-post...I'm sure I didn't click twice! Anyway, sorry!!

August 7, 2006 at 06:29 PM · First, I should say "Talk to a doctor and get professional advice." Now I've discharged my obligation and I can give my own opinion. I agree with everyone who recommends ice and rest. If it doesn't get better after a week or so, I'd seek medical help. It is scary when your body does strange things like that.

August 17, 2006 at 01:42 AM · Pieter: Hope your finger is better by now. (And it's a good thing it was just your finger - it could have been worse.)

Cheers, Sandy

August 17, 2006 at 01:54 AM · Exactly right, Sandy. He's lucky that finger didn't rot off. I hope he's a bit more cautious in the future.

August 17, 2006 at 02:48 AM · well, we had to amputate the whole arm.

Actually, my mom was right... it was just a hang nail. It subsided and I've been playing for a while now. There's no trace of swelling or pain anymore...

but I can tell you one thing:

I've got blisters on me fingers.

August 17, 2006 at 03:40 AM · What's a hang nail?

August 17, 2006 at 04:41 AM · It's the nail you hang yourself with. And how well you're hung depends on the size of the nail.

August 17, 2006 at 05:18 AM · I wear size 15 sneakers... do you know what that means?

I haven't cut my toe nails in years.

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