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 Hand problems
Author: Hey_Pauly 
Date:   2021-10-14 02:37

I suffer with some hand problems and I find it difficult to use the pinky keys at times. Have any of you experienced this or know of someone who has?

Thanks.

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-10-14 04:41

Hey_Pauly wrote:

> I suffer with some hand problems and I find it difficult to use
> the pinky keys at times. Have any of you experienced this or
> know of someone who has?

Yes, although my chronic problems are mild and only really interfere occasionally during flare-ups. At least some of my difficulty is caused by a pinched ulnar nerve where it goes through my right elbow, which I broke almost 50 years ago. It had to be surgically reassembled.

I don't know what other nerve compressions might be possible culprits, and then the tendons themselves pass across the wrist sheathed in "tunnels" that can become swollen and compressed as well. I also get occasional arthritic pain in my wrists that can make moving my pinkies in certain ways uncomfortable. If it's bad enough to interfere noticeably, you're best off having the cause diagnosed by an orthopedist with a hand specialty.

Solutions might range all the way from warm compresses through NSAIDS or steroid injections to surgery. But IMO it's best to have it professionally evaluated and not to guess.

I do sometimes have enough trouble reaching my RH pinky down the the E/B key that I often resort to playing E-F#-G# or B-C#-D# by sliding L-L-R instead of starting on the right hand.

Karl



Post Edited (2021-10-15 05:42)

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: RKing 
Date:   2021-10-14 17:30

As much as I love the clarinet, I do not like the added stress it puts on our pinky fingers. I have had carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand as well as a wrist fusion on my right side. Both of these helped me a lot and have allowed me to continue playing my clarinet with very little pain.

But the wrist fusion caused some nerve damage that makes it difficult for me to raise the pinky finger on my right hand as quickly as before. So I have learned some workarounds, such as sliding my pinky fingers like Karl does.

One of my best friends (and an excellent musician) suffered a stroke about three years ago. He is still playing very well, but he mentioned to me that he finds it very difficult to get his right pinky finger to move fast enough and has been forced to learn these same workarounds, too.

I guess it comes with the rest of the "getting old" stuff! <LOL>

Ron

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-10-14 19:58

Hey_Pauly wrote:

> I suffer with some hand problems and I find it difficult to use
> the pinky keys at times. Have any of you experienced this or
> know of someone who has?
>
> Thanks.

Sometime therapies are better targeted when the cause of the limit in finger movement is known.

Would your first guess be that what you are experiencing is a product of age, or more repetitive movement from your presumptively non-musical avocation, or even congenital, etc.?

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: Hey_Pauly 
Date:   2021-10-14 21:32

Thanks for all your replies. My hand problems began many years ago when I was a guitar player. The clarinet doesn't aggravate my hands like the guitar did but their are still some issues. I refuse to give up, however.

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: Burt 
Date:   2021-10-14 23:03

I have a broken left pinky, which makes it hard to reach some of the keys (worse on a sax), and often pulls my ring finger out of position on C#4/G#5. I've taken two approaches.
1. I added an extension to the C#/G# key using a moldable plastic generally used for making medical casts. It can be softened in hot water, cools hard, and can be sanded or filed. I attached it to the key using double-sided tape. But sometimes the pinky position makes me uncover the C4/G5 hole.
2. I sent my #1 clarinet to Stephen Fox to put a plateau key on the C4/G5 hole. He is working on it now. Hopefully when my ring finger gets moved by extending my pinky, it will still be able to push down the key.

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: Burt 
Date:   2021-10-14 23:12

I have a broken left pinky, which makes it hard to reach some of the keys (worse on a sax), and often pulls my ring finger out of position on C#4/G#5. I've taken two approaches.
1. I added an extension to the C#/G# key using a moldable plastic generally used for making medical casts. It can be softened in hot water, cools hard, and can be sanded or filed. I attached it to the key using double-sided tape. But sometimes the pinky position makes me uncover the C4/G5 hole.
2. I sent my #1 clarinet to Stephen Fox to put a plateau key on the C4/G5 hole. He is working on it now. Hopefully when my ring finger gets moved by extending my pinky, it will still be able to push down the key.

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: MichaelW 
Date:   2021-10-15 16:13
Attachment:  IMG_2089.jpg (325k)

Oehler/ German system is easier on the right pinky: you only have to slide.

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2021-10-16 11:08

I moved from violin/piano to clarinet because my right pinkie finger couldn't manage the stretching. I do find it must more doable on the clarinet, but still quite challenging. I recently realised that the French horn is the ultimate answer to pinkie finger difficulties, though obviously quite challenging in other ways. :-)

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: DougR 
Date:   2021-10-17 15:34

Hi Burt--If you can, could you please post where you got your formable plastic and what specifically you ordered? I have a bunch of hand issues resulting out of thumb CMC surgery, and making myself some splints might give me some relief from SOME of the pain.

Thanks!
Doug R.

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: Burt 
Date:   2021-10-20 06:32

Doug, my orthopedist prescribed a hand splint for a matter having nothing to do with clarinet playing. When I turned in the request, I watched the tech make the splint (he had to try it on me to make sure it fit), and realized that I would some day be able to use such a material for something. So I asked him to give me some scraps, which turned out to be a few pieces each several square inches - for free.

I got them from a facility at U Virginia research center, but I expect that any facility making splints would have access to such a plastic. If you have used an orthopedist, he/she could probably steer you to a local source.



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 Re: Hand problems
Author: ACCA 
Date:   2021-10-20 13:51

A neckstrap and thumb holder such as this one: https://www.tonkooiman.com/index.php/products/etude3 will probably be of some help, just by taking some weight and strain off the right hand. And a simple velcro cuff just below the elbow such as the FitX compression brace can help too. Some professional help from a physio though is the only way to get the best support. Best of luck and well done with the perseverance.

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-10-20 18:09

I just want to circle back to my original point at the top of these responses, because I think it's important. All of the wrist supports and neckstraps, etc. are possible remedies if the problems the OP has with his pinkies are being caused by ongoing physical stress. If they are caused instead by damage that has already been done, I don't believe that relieving stress going forward will solve them completely.

The first step with a *chronic* problem is to have it evaluated by an appropriate medical professional, IMO an orthopedist or possibly a neurologist. A family practice GP doc may be a first step, especially if insurance requires it. Once a good diagnosis has been made, a solution or a range of possible solutions can be looked at.

By the way, to Hey_Pauly, if you want to test whether or not supports and RH strain relief might be effective at resolving your hand problems, you don't need to buy anything. Just try supporting the clarinet on or between your knees for a few days or a couple of weeks and see if there's improvement. If it does help, then start experimenting with straps and slings or even the wrist bands used by some people (myself included) during exercise. If you're already doing that and it hasn't helped, I'm not sure how a support device will do anything more.

Of course, you haven't said in either of your posts that your problems are limited to your right hand, which is where the weight of the clarinet on your thumb would cause trouble. I'm not sure how a neckstrap would help ease problems in your left hand.

Karl

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: DougR 
Date:   2021-10-22 02:41

Thanks, Burt--I too have a splint my ortho therapist made, and it's too unwieldy to use for playing. Was curious if you'd ordered your splint material online, since the stuff that's available seems horrendously expensive (3 figures for just a few sheets). I should have probably asked the therapist to throw in some "gimme" scraps, but I didn't think of it. Good luck with the hand issues!

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 Re: Hand problems
Author: Hey_Pauly 
Date:   2021-10-23 18:51

Thanks for all the information. I have been using a strap and that has helped a bit.

I guess it is good to know that I am not the only one who has issues.

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