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Aug 17, 2019 - 4:59:06 AM
169 posts since 12/16/2012

I have pinched a nerve in my right elbow that has affected the baby finger and the ring finger on my left hand. I have been going to a chiropractor and the intense pain is now gone, but the numbing in my left two fingers is taking its time to leave. I was wondering if anyone has experienced this and if they did anything to relieve the numbing affect? When I try to fret the banjo the baby finger and ring finger wants to move together and the strength in my baby finger is pretty much shot. I feel confident that more chiropractor visits will take care of the problem he is using ultrasound treatments and they seem to be working pretty well. Just wondering. Thanks!

Aug 17, 2019 - 5:19:09 AM
Players Union Member



5158 posts since 8/19/2012

Yes had a pinched ulnar nerve, that is the one that causes numbness in your pinky and outside of your ring finger. Had EMG tests that showed that there was some nerve damage. Had surgery to relocate the nerve in my hand but no luck, tried several rounds of cortizone shots in elbow since it presented itself as tennis elbow. The final solution was total shoulder replacement which was needed for other reasons.
The Ulnar Nerve runs from your neck down to your fingers and can be pinched in a number of places including in the Carpal Tunnel in the wrist.
Suggest you see a hand specialist to determine exactly where the problem is.

Aug 17, 2019 - 8:12:02 AM
Players Union Member



1273 posts since 2/5/2006

I had surgery for carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel problems about 12 years ago. Both problems resolved. Still can't play the banjo.

Aug 17, 2019 - 10:03:48 AM

314 posts since 1/28/2013

Might just take some time. I wouldn't do anything drastic at this point. Stay with the Chiropractor. If you go to an MD, you can bet the first he will say is you need surgery, which may not even be effective, and will probably make you worse. Sounds like a job for a Chiropractor, the injury doesn't sound too severe.

Aug 17, 2019 - 11:43:05 AM

782 posts since 3/23/2006

I had carpal tunnel release surgery in my right hand -- index and middle fingers were getting numb, so in addition to other diagnostic data, it was clearly the nerve in the wrist. (What I learned is that numbness in the other two fingers is most likely caused by a pinch in the elbow.) Regardless, my experience was that I needed to interview hand specialists to find the approach that made sense. I wanted someone who would not rush to surgery if trying other approaches like cortisone injections, physical therapy (chiropractor), etc. might work. I found such a doc, but he was not there first one I visited. When I finally decided on surgery, I did the research and found that there were 2 different surgical procedures. I selected the least invasive one -- of which there were two variations -- and my doc who did not rush me into surgery was one who had done hundreds, maybe thousands, of the procedures and was an instructor for the medical devices company that makes the specialized surgical equipment. Buying medical care is not easy, but it worked out fine. My banjo playing was back to 3+ hours without a problem.

Aug 18, 2019 - 6:16:12 AM

169 posts since 12/16/2012

Thanks everyone! Jan, I am thinking the same thing, especially about going to an MD. Just going to take a little time I believe, but sure is frustrating when trying to pick.

Aug 20, 2019 - 8:03:41 AM

23 posts since 10/1/2013

I am going through this same thing, but I suspect my pinched Ulner Nerve may be in my neck rather than elbow.  I've occasionally have extreme tightness of the muscle that connects neck and shoulder (upper trap) on the left side, and it seems to be related.  It came on suddenly - I couldn't form a G chord on guitar (with pinky on first string, ring on fifth) or full G shape or D shape on banjo because of the span between pinky and ring fingers on left hand.  When I hold my left hand out, I can't move my pinky to be next to the ring finger like I can on my right hand.

Things that seem to be helping include using a heating pad on my neck and shoulder, doing neck, upper trap and nerve glide exercises and massage on the pressure point near my shoulder blade.  Just read about doing self massage by placing a tennis ball between your back and the wall and moving around and that seems to be working to relieve some of the tightness. I'm also changing my sleep position to be on my back instead of either side with arm under my head which is my usual position.

Still some numbness and restricted movement, but I was able to form four-finger chords for the first time in about a week today.  Very relieved that this might not be permanent.

Two years ago I had severe eye pain on that side and could not get an accurate diagnosis.  In researching this I learned that tightness in upper trap frequently sends trigger points to the same side eye which feels like a dagger stabbing it.  I had that for several terrible months and went to several Drs.  This never occurred to my GP or eye doctor.

Aug 22, 2019 - 8:08:29 AM
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Players Union Member

Jim E.


486 posts since 6/26/2006

Glen (Wizofos), in his post above, gives excellent advice. You should see a hand specialist. You have what is called 'cubital tunnel syndrome' which is caused by frequent pressure on the ulnar nerve. Do NOT wait to have a hand specialist diagnose and treat it; the longer you wait, the longer it will take to heal. If you wait too long, it may not heal at all, at least not completely. In the meantime, try not to lean on your elbows and do your best to keep the affected arm extended, especially when you sleep. If surgery is required, the rate of nerve recovery, generally speaking, is about one inch per month. This means, again generally speaking, that you may not fully recover the use of your little and ring fingers until about a year after surgery. I wish you the best of luck with this.

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