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Topic: Thumb injury? please advise!  (Read 1753 times)

Offline jlh

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Thumb injury? please advise!
on: May 01, 2006, 07:46:39 AM
So yeah, about 7 hours ago I was practicing the 32 Variations in C minor by Beethoven.  When practicing the 10th variation (the one with the fast notes in the LH and octaves in the RH), I got a sharp pain in my LH thumb when I accented the beat.  I have had no trouble with this in the past, and was quite shocked when it happened.  I still have all the strength in the thumb and it doesn't hurt at all when doing normal tasks like wiggling it, applying pressure from the thumb squarely on any object, grasping things, etc.  but when I use it to play the piano (using the normal angle of the thumb on the keys, which is not square on the joint, obviously), I get the same pain.  I stopped practicing immediately and have been icing it and resting it since.

Anyone else experience something similar?  Does this sound like an injury I should be worried about, or more like a bruise that will clear up?

I have one piano lesson left and my 20 minute jury is this Friday!!  I emailed my professor about it, but haven't gotten a response yet.

Talk about timing!
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Offline jlh

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #1 on: May 02, 2006, 01:01:31 AM
I went to the doctor today and had it xrayed just to be safe.  nothin's structurally damaged, and the doc thinks I just bruised it.  there's a nerve that runs along that side of the thumb and it evidently got irritated because of the impact.  hopefully I'll still be able to do my jury on friday, but I'll have to take it easy until then... and I really have a lot of practicing to do before then!!
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #2 on: May 02, 2006, 03:41:33 AM
Yeah when anything hurts you have to stop immediately. I would also question how did the injury start to happen in the first place. I personally find a lot of injuries occur when the fingers/thumb isolate their movements from the entire hand (a reason why practicing thirds wrongly can hurt), make sure when you play you keep the sense of the finger connected to the entire hand, this uses more gravity and weight of the hand to depress notes and produce accents rather than use excessive strikes of individual fingers.
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Offline jlh

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #3 on: May 02, 2006, 04:03:44 AM
Yeah when anything hurts you have to stop immediately. I would also question how did the injury start to happen in the first place. I personally find a lot of injuries occur when the fingers/thumb isolate their movements from the entire hand (a reason why practicing thirds wrongly can hurt), make sure when you play you keep the sense of the finger connected to the entire hand, this uses more gravity and weight of the hand to depress notes and produce accents rather than use excessive strikes of individual fingers.

I'm not convinced this could have been prevented by using a different technique (less force of individual fingers...).  What happened is that my thumb repeatedly struck those notes in a position that was relatively flat, allowing the joint of the distal phalanx to come into contact with the key.  What essentially happened was that the contact of the thumb to the key produced an injury that would be similar to the result had someone hit my thumb with a hammer in mid-air (I'm guessing).  The tendons are not involved, and thank god there is no ligament or bone damage.  There's a nerve that runs along the side of the thumb, and that's what caused the sharp pain.

The doctor said I should decrease my playing for the next 10 days and that should do it.  It's doing better today, so my plan is to keep taking Advil, icing it, and play VERY lightly with it for the next few days.  Since there's no structural damage, I'm hopeful that if things continue to improve, I'll still be able to do my piano jury this Friday and then completely rest it for a week or so.

[crosses fingers]

Thanks for the reply!

Josh
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Offline crazy for ivan moravec

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #4 on: May 02, 2006, 05:27:35 AM
yeah, my guess was right that it would be nerves. tendonitis doesnt have a sudden sharp pain. it's more creeping than sudden. but still be careful.:)
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Offline jlh

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #5 on: May 03, 2006, 01:36:28 AM
yeah, my guess was right that it would be nerves. tendonitis doesnt have a sudden sharp pain. it's more creeping than sudden. but still be careful.:)

Yeah, I've had acute tendonitis in my wrists before, so I knew it couldn't be that.  My professor noted that I have a tendency to play too low with my thumbs, so I'll be working on that so this doesn't happen again!

On a good note, I was practicing today and did not experience any pain.  Looks good for the jury...
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Offline jlh

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #6 on: May 09, 2006, 07:39:00 AM
Well, good news!  I had my jury last Friday and not only did I have no pain in the thumb, but I also got an "A" on the jury!  Time to rest it and then start working on recital rep for next semester! ;D
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Offline steveie986

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #7 on: May 09, 2006, 08:29:25 AM
You're obviously a highly accomplished pianist. I enjoyed the recordings on your website. Do you possibly have a recording of you playing the Beethoven variations? I'd love to hear it.

Offline jlh

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #8 on: May 09, 2006, 04:23:23 PM
You're obviously a highly accomplished pianist. I enjoyed the recordings on your website. Do you possibly have a recording of you playing the Beethoven variations? I'd love to hear it.

No, unfortunately.  I'm putting those variations on my recital next semester though, along with the Bach English Suite #2 for the first half.  The second half will be entirely Rachmaninoff and Scriabin Etudes, including the Rach 39/1 that I made a video of in the audition forum here.

Should be fun!
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Offline zheer

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #9 on: May 09, 2006, 05:50:39 PM
OK sorry if this soundes too philosophical, But " if one stops doing the wrong thinngs, the wright thing should happen on its own"
" Nothing ends nicely, that's why it ends" - Tom Cruise -

Offline jlh

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #10 on: May 10, 2006, 02:24:19 AM
OK sorry if this soundes too philosophical, But " if one stops doing the wrong thinngs, the wright thing should happen on its own"

I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at in this context.  It seems to me that it is more than simply stopping an action that causes problems, but also actively replacing that action with another that is more anatomically and technically efficient.
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Offline zheer

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #11 on: May 10, 2006, 02:04:07 PM
I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at in this context.  It seems to me that it is more than simply stopping an action that causes problems, but also actively replacing that action with another that is more anatomically and technically efficient.

   Well exactly, you have just answerd your own question.  ::)
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Offline jlh

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #12 on: May 11, 2006, 08:30:21 AM
   Well exactly, you have just answerd your own question.  ::)

Maybe, but it is not an automatic transference, as your post seems to infer.
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Offline tompilk

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Re: Thumb injury? please advise!
Reply #13 on: May 12, 2006, 09:19:43 PM
hehehe. i just rammed my finger into a black key playing rach 23-5 10 mins ago and it still hurts...  >:(
Tom
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