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Collapsing pinky, causing hand & wrist pain
#2870270 07/18/19 10:08 AM
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Hi,

I started as a complete beginner 3 years ago, and am now studying for Grade 5. I am very happy with the progress but one issue has always been holding me back - my right hand pinky is very weak and its second joint collapses 9 out of 10 times. Sometimes when this happens, especially when I have already done some playing, the pinky knuckle rises as well. This in turn causes tension from the first joint all the way down to the wrist, causing pain. In fact, it got so bad that just before my Grade 3 exam, I had to take a break of one month to rest it. I am very aware of this and have tried changing hand and wrist positions to help, but to no apparent results. My left hand is unaffected.

My teacher says my whole hand tenses up too much during playing, and doesn't think the collapsing pinky is of particular concern. I now play with much more relaxed hands, but the pinky problem is still causing me pain. With more and more efforts required as I progress, I can see this developing into a bigger problem and could force me to take a break again.

I have attached a couple of photos to show what I mean. Can anyone suggest what I can do to remedy this? Many thanks for your help in advance!

Cheers,
Tom

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Re: Collapsing pinky, causing hand & wrist pain
forgottenlife #2870281 07/18/19 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by forgottenlife
Hi,

I started as a complete beginner 3 years ago, and am now studying for Grade 5. I am very happy with the progress but one issue has always been holding me back - my right hand pinky is very weak and its second joint collapses 9 out of 10 times. Sometimes when this happens, especially when I have already done some playing, the pinky knuckle rises as well. This in turn causes tension from the first joint all the way down to the wrist, causing pain. In fact, it got so bad that just before my Grade 3 exam, I had to take a break of one month to rest it. I am very aware of this and have tried changing hand and wrist positions to help, but to no apparent results. My left hand is unaffected.

My teacher says my whole hand tenses up too much during playing, and doesn't think the collapsing pinky is of particular concern. I now play with much more relaxed hands, but the pinky problem is still causing me pain. With more and more efforts required as I progress, I can see this developing into a bigger problem and could force me to take a break again.

I have attached a couple of photos to show what I mean. Can anyone suggest what I can do to remedy this? Many thanks for your help in advance!

Cheers,
Tom

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]


I'd suggest you want some expert advice on two counts:
1) What the actual cause is. Have you had any confirmation that your theory/opinion of collapsing pinky causing tension down to the wrist causing pain is correct? It seems your music teacher has a different view and currently that's the best second opinion you have?
2) What to do about it? I'd suggest popping in to your nearest good physio for advice on what to do, which might well end up being finger strengthening exercises - or something else entirely.


Good luck, and do get it sorted rather than keep playing and deepening the injuries.

Re: Collapsing pinky, causing hand & wrist pain
forgottenlife #2870285 07/18/19 10:40 AM
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I've the same problem. When I play my pinky tends to dance around too, even when not using it.

I'm working on it by doing finger independence exercises.

Maybe you can find some advice here too: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2856843/injured-my-hand.html#Post2856843

Re: Collapsing pinky, causing hand & wrist pain
forgottenlife #2870290 07/18/19 10:50 AM
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PM'ed you.

Re: Collapsing pinky, causing hand & wrist pain
hyena #2870336 07/18/19 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by hyena
I've the same problem. When I play my pinky tends to dance around too, even when not using it.

I'm working on it by doing finger independence exercises.

Maybe you can find some advice here too: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2856843/injured-my-hand.html#Post2856843

There is also this earlier thread.


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Re: Collapsing pinky, causing hand & wrist pain
forgottenlife #2870341 07/18/19 01:25 PM
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Two thoughts.

First, this could be related to your own unique anatomy, no two sets of hands are alike. I say this because I tried to replicate the collapsed knuckle like you show in the picture and I can’t do it, my finger does not bend that way. I know this doesn’t help but it may partially explain why it’s happening.

Second, your hand looks too low, especially in the first picture. It looks like the thumb is practically parallel with the keys, it should be at an angle of about 30 degrees or so to the keys. Look at this article scroll down to where it talks about a thumb perch and notice the thumb’s angle to the keys. When you raise the wrist and get the thumb at a higher angle to the keys your fifth finger will go from slightly straight to having more curve to it which moves that second knuckle in the opposite direction of where it’s at in the collapsed position. Maybe starting with more bend in that knuckle to begin with may help prevent that knuckle collapsing all together. It might not, but it’s worth a try.


It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: Collapsing pinky, causing hand & wrist pain
forgottenlife #2870344 07/18/19 01:32 PM
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It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: Collapsing pinky, causing hand & wrist pain
forgottenlife #2870390 07/18/19 04:55 PM
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I think there may be two causes of your problem. The first cause may be that you don't move your hand close enough to the key that your pinkie must play. In this case your pinkie has to stretch in order to reach the key and this stretch may cause the collapse. Observe your playing carefully and try to understand if it is the case or not.

Secondly you surely need to strengthen your pinkie and to learn to use it in a curled shape. I have recently acknowledged the benefits of kinesio taping, and I think it may help you with this problem. Cut some narrow stripes of kiniesio tape before playing and glue them to your pinkie when it's curled. It will help you maintain the proper shape and it will constantly remind you of the pinkie shape until you strengthen it enough and learn to keep it curled. Good luck!

Re: Collapsing pinky, causing hand & wrist pain
forgottenlife #2870421 07/18/19 06:22 PM
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If the "collapsing" joint doesn't cause problems, I wouldn't worry about it.

If it does, the issue may be much more than just that joint collapsing "problem".

Because, up to 30% of normal people (like myself smirk ) have absent flexor digitorum superficialis to the little finger, which means that you can only flex that finger using your flexor digitorum profundus, which is attached to the distal phalanx. Hence, when pressing firmly, the proximal joint 'uncurls' and you get what you have in your photo.

Have a look at these papers:

http://handlab.com/resources/clinical-pearl-28-simple-superficialis

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3972531/

Incidentally, I believe I have absent FDS to both my pinkies, but never even noticed the "problem" until a few years ago, when I made a recording for a piano website. I saw in the video - for the first time - what happened to my pinkies when I'm playing above mp and my fingers weren't outstretched (when of course, my pinkies would be straight).

None of my four teachers ever mentioned this fact to me, though they must have noticed. Meaning of course, they've seen it all before, and as long as it doesn't cause the student problems, it's not an issue. After all, there's nothing they can do about the "missing" tendon. wink

And it's not an issue for me......

Quote
My teacher says my whole hand tenses up too much during playing, and doesn't think the collapsing pinky is of particular concern.

Your teacher is right. The problem lies elsewhere.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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