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NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up #2911178 11/12/19 01:07 PM
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Hey family, I need some help.

Maybe someone here has in their piano travels run across a name of a world renowned hand injury specialist (or equivalent) - in this case a piano player's hand injury. (?) I'm at the point where I might be willing to travel anywhere in the country to get a hand injury resolved. (I believe I recall maybe 20 years ago there was an old German classical pianist/teacher who specialized in pianist injury & injury prevention technique. Even "if" she's still alive, I can't seem to dig up who she was.) Any references or links to another forum which might have some folk who might have some references is greatly appreciated. At this point, piano career is over... But I guess I'm still compelled to give this one last try.

Thanks in advance for any help.

BACKGROUND (in case you're curious): Issue began in 2014. This might be a repetitive stress injury, but cause is unknown. Middle finger on right hand droops about a half-inch below the neutral position [fingers extended but relaxed] of the fingers, and has difficulty raising on it's own (quasi-autonomically).
Quasi-autonomically, in this context meaning for example when you press keys on the piano keyboard with your 2nd, 4th or 5th fingers - your other finger (in this case the 3rd finger will automatically slightly raise on it's own. You could call this peripheral compensation. But in my case, the finger does not raise at all in that context - and as such when playing scales for example the finger jumps bumps along all the black keys.

I've already run the gamut of doctors: GP, physiologist, EMG, hand surgeon (consult), hand surgeon #2, ultrasound [retinaculum appears normal], physical therapy, active release... No answer, no result.

Last edited by johnishere; 11/12/19 01:13 PM.
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Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnishere] #2911220 11/12/19 02:51 PM
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If you're prepared to travel anywhere in the country, you would probably get a better answer if you specified which country.


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Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: FrankCox] #2911221 11/12/19 02:55 PM
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[United States] But, if someone knows a name of a specialist in another country, I'm sure a consult/case review could be arranged.

Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnishere] #2911413 11/13/19 04:42 AM
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You don't seem to have run gamut of piano teachers. You should have done that first.

Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnishere] #2911456 11/13/19 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by johnishere
At this point, piano career is over... But I guess I'm still compelled to give this one last try.

Sorry to hear this.

Take a look at this: John Hopkin's Center for Music & Medicine.

If you try this, or something else suggested by another member, do come back and update us on how you are doing.


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"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: chopin_r_us] #2911471 11/13/19 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
You don't seem to have run gamut of piano teachers. You should have done that first.

I'm not sure what you mean. ?
Piano teachers don't diagnose medical issues.
Feel free to elaborate.

Last edited by johnishere; 11/13/19 08:32 AM.
Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnishere] #2911671 11/13/19 04:47 PM
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It may be a technic issue. My fingers don 't raise as I use 2,3,4 or 5.

Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnishere] #2911679 11/13/19 05:12 PM
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It sounds like you're talking about Dorothy Taubman, although she was American.

Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnishere] #2911681 11/13/19 05:16 PM
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Can you raise your finger consciously (as opposed to what you call "quasi-autonomically")?

Last edited by johnstaf; 11/13/19 05:17 PM.
Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: chopin_r_us] #2911695 11/13/19 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
It may be a technic issue. My fingers don 't raise as I use 2,3,4 or 5.

You're saying when you press one finger/key, and the other fingers not move? How do you learn to do or enable that?

Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnishere] #2911701 11/13/19 06:21 PM
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Tyrone Slothrop Offline
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Originally Posted by johnishere
I need some help.

johnishere, I sent you a PM (private message). You can find it at the upper right corner of the webpage immediately to the left of your "johnishere" forum handle. Click on the envelope-shaped icon.


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnishere] #2911706 11/13/19 06:36 PM
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How long have you been playing? Is this a recent development?

Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnstaf] #2911708 11/13/19 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Can you raise your finger consciously (as opposed to what you call "quasi-autonomically")?

Yes. I have pretty much full bulk motor control (full extensor strength), but not fine motor activation.

Here's another story example (in the rare off-chance that a piano player in future develops this problem and finds this forum):

One quasi-autonomic finger motion example is when you roll your fingers. This is when you tap your fingertips against the table/surface in a quick manner (as if you are impatiently waiting for your wife to finish getting dressed) in the 4-3-2, 4-3-2, 4-3-2 pattern. This motion can be done very quickly and can sound like a drum roll. From a technical aspect, 'conscious' or 'manual' motor control is not what enables you to do this motion because your brain is not capable of independently coordinating each finger, individually, that quickly. Instead, it's a semi-automatic (neurocognitive) process/sequence of your brain's motor control that enables you to drum roll your fingers that quickly.

However, in my case because the raising/extension of my middle finger is compromised - I have to consciously raise my middle finger under full manual control in each 4-3-2 sequence, which again is not the same type of brain motor control process as in the previous paragraph. So, if I try to do it quickly (automatically) my finger roll is a pathetic looking 4-twitch-2, 4-tried to raise a little-2, 4-slight twitch-2... you get the idea (by I 'can' do it manually slowly).

The speed of doing this finger roll manually instead of being able to do it automatically is the equivalent of a normal working hand rolling your fingers as described above, but this time use the finger pattern 5-2-3, 5-2-3, 5-2-3, etc. You'll have to 'manually' control each finger with that pattern, and it will be slower and more clumsy than 4-3-2. With much practice, 'some' people may be able to develop some quickness in doing this pattern, but most will never develop the same quickness as the drum roll sound of the 4-3-2 pattern.)

Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnstaf] #2911713 11/13/19 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
It sounds like you're talking about Dorothy Taubman, although she was American.

It might have been. The first time I had paid attention to this teacher who specialized in posture-correct playing it was 15 or 20 years ago, and up to that point I had never had any physiologic issues - so I didn't really pay much attention to who she was. When I did a deep dive 3 or 4 years ago to try to find out who it was that I remembered, I ran across Taubman.... but for some reason it doesn't seem like that was her. Oh, and she was dead by then (2015).... so there's that.

For the record, I don't believe that a technique specialist pianist such as she would be able to diagnose my condition - but teachers who do specialize in technique tend to have worked with so many people that they may have come across at least one other person who has experienced the same condition/injury as mine, and might know the outcome of "that" person's years of trial and experiment before some genius doctor finally figured it out for them.

No need to reinvent the wheel if I can just borrow from someone else's long road of misery to get to their solution.

Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2911716 11/13/19 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Sorry to hear this.

Take a look at this: John Hopkin's Center for Music & Medicine.


Yes, I did run across John Hopkin's a couple of years ago. My initial 'just an inquiry' with them didn't seem too promising... But, I have not crossed them off of the list.
Thanx much for that, I appreciate it.

Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnstaf] #2911719 11/13/19 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
How long have you been playing? Is this a recent development?

Before this issued started 4 years ago, I played for 37 years without any issues. It was just coincidental that I had an understanding of muscular anatomy at that age when I first started playing (I was an athlete), so I knew better than to fray my finger tendons by constantly pulling them back and forth over a pile of stones... i.e. knew better than to play with a bent wrist where possible, as the constant rubbing of the flexor tendons against the retinaculum and wrist bones (carpal tunnel) could cause inflammation and/or long-term damage.

(ok, that "and" a little bit of vanity. After my first 30 days of playing, I couldn't 'play' like Horowitz... but I didn't want to 'look' like a rookie. So, I would sit up straight, posture looking good, arms and hands and wrist in proper alignment so that I could at least 'look' like a world class classical pianist..... while playing "twinkle, twinkle little star". hahahaha)

Last edited by johnishere; 11/13/19 07:34 PM.
Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnishere] #2911724 11/13/19 08:07 PM
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You might like to look up an experienced Taubman teacher. I don't know if they're uniformly good. However, they specialise in this kind of thing, and could probably point you in the right direction, as they will probably have seen this before.

They won't be able to cure a neuromuscular problem of course, but it would be good to talk to someone who really understands what you are talking about.


Last edited by johnstaf; 11/13/19 08:07 PM.
Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: chopin_r_us] #2911745 11/13/19 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
It may be a technic issue. My fingers don 't raise as I use 2,3,4 or 5.

Nah, I don't think it's a technic issue. Most peoples' fingers are able to raise without any special technic training; and I don't remember any piano teacher ever mentioning to me that some of their lesson weeks were dedicated to "how to get your middle finger to raise'. The other reason I don't believe that it's a 'technic' issue is because some of my best friends are finger-raisers: people whose middle finger can raise... and they don't even play piano.

But, I'll admit - I'm curious: Which 'technic' are you using to get your fingers from the white keys up to the black keys without raising them? For example, at this point I can't even get a full 4 measures into "Jeux d'eau" without running into trouble having to raise my middle finger up to get clearance above the black keys at the same time that my 2nd finger is on one of the white keys [E#] as I play the finger crossover 32nd note diminished chord arpeggio motif in measure 4. And this is really a problem to get my fingers up to the black keys without raising them if I'm playing it in the style of Richter (196 MM). Or are you playing on one of those flat-rollup keyboards that they sell at Toys“R”Us? (That would explain why your "fingers don't raise as you use 2,3,4 or 5"... you know, since it's all... flat... and all.)

But, don't worry - I'm gonna keep working at fixing my finger... 'Cause being able to raise my middle finger would come in handy nowadays.

Last edited by johnishere; 11/13/19 09:32 PM.
Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnishere] #2911748 11/13/19 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by johnishere
Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
It may be a technic issue. My fingers don 't raise as I use 2,3,4 or 5.

Nah, I don't think it's a technic issue. Most peoples' fingers are able to raise without any special technic training;


I very much doubt that this is a problem with your technique, as it only became apparent after many years of playing. You may need some special training in technique to overcome the problem, and that's why I think a Taubman teacher might be helpful.

I had a problem with my right hand, and my physio was able to help me. While my technique didn't cause the problem, I had to adapt to accommodate it. Your problem probably isn't as straightforward.

Last edited by johnstaf; 11/13/19 09:40 PM.
Re: NEED HELP. My finger's fallen, and it can't get up [Re: johnstaf] #2911755 11/13/19 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
... and could probably point you in the right direction, as they will probably have seen this before.

They won't be able to cure a neuromuscular problem of course, but it would be good to talk to someone who really understands what you are talking about.

Exactly, I'm sure that 'somebody' has seen this before.... I can't be the only purple alien who this has ever happened to. Although, with my dumb luck ?

I have a couple of assessment ideas as to what the problem might be, but unfortunately at this point guessing from the outside of the arm is no longer productive. This means "going inside". We'd have to open up the arm (surgery). But, because the specific cause is still not completely certain, that would be essentially experimental surgery - and I don't know if I'm at the point that I want to guinea pig this thing. On the one hand, I can currently play at about 70%* overall performance ability (some passages I can't really play well at all, but not every measure uses my right hand) - so, with experimental surgery it's at least possible that I could get back to 100% (or close enough)... But, on the other hand, open-arm surgery could also make matters worse.

* Keep in mind that if Pavarotti sang 'one' performance at anything less than 90% of his ability, every review in town would've said that he was a 'has been'; that he's all washed up. So, 70% kinda sucks.)

Last edited by johnishere; 11/13/19 10:15 PM.
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