Has anyone else here had this condition? If so, I need you help!

Lalz

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Hiya!

Peeking into the forum again after a long absence. As some of you perhaps remember I busted my left wrist on NYE and haven't been able to play properly since then, so I've been a bit sad and frustrated about it and not spending much time here because of it. Still love you all though!

After months of being tossed from one doctor to another and getting different diagnosis as to why I still can't move my hand properly, I finally got to see an actual wrist specialist, who figured out what the problem is: apparently the radius ("thumb bone") that had broken in two is now 1-2 mm shorter than it used to be and therefore the ulna bone is too long and restricts my hand movements. I can do certain movements but still not many and it hurts constantly, even when I don't move at all. Ukulele-wise it makes for example D7 chords impossible to fret. I used to love D7, I miss it so much! :(

The thing is, I could get surgery to get this fixed but the doctor doesn't want me to, and he won't even consider it for another year and a half (Why you ask? Short answer: because he's a jerk). I asked to see another doctor for 2nd opinion but each referral takes about 2-3 months.

Soooo..... I'd like to ask you guys the following: Has any of you had the same problem (the shorter radius bone, that is)? Have you been able to regain full use of your hand? How did you do it? Should I keep on insisting to get surgery or would surgery just make things worse? If you're based in the UK, could you recommend a good NHS surgeon? If there's no hope, is it easier to do for example a D7 on a baritone? Are there alternative ways to fret chords that demand less wrist movement? Or should I just accept my fate, give up on hoping to get to do my job properly ever again, and also sell all my ukes on the marketplace? (NO!!!!!!!)

Thanks!
 

mailman

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Hiya!

Peeking into the forum again after a long absence. As some of you perhaps remember I busted my left wrist on NYE and haven't been able to play properly since then, so I've been a bit sad and frustrated about it and not spending much time here because of it. Still love you all though!

After months of being tossed from one doctor to another and getting different diagnosis as to why I still can't move my hand properly, I finally got to see an actual wrist specialist, who figured out what the problem is: apparently the radius ("thumb bone") that had broken in two is now 1-2 mm shorter than it used to be and therefore the ulna bone is too long and restricts my hand movements. I can do certain movements but still not many and it hurts constantly, even when I don't move at all. Ukulele-wise it makes for example D7 chords impossible to fret. I used to love D7, I miss it so much! :(

The thing is, I could get surgery to get this fixed but the doctor doesn't want me to, and he won't even consider it for another year and a half (Why you ask? Short answer: because he's a jerk). I asked to see another doctor for 2nd opinion but each referral takes about 2-3 months.

Soooo..... I'd like to ask you guys the following: Has any of you had the same problem (the shorter radius bone, that is)? Have you been able to regain full use of your hand? How did you do it? Should I keep on insisting to get surgery or would surgery just make things worse? If you're based in the UK, could you recommend a good NHS surgeon? If there's no hope, is it easier to do for example a D7 on a baritone? Are there alternative ways to fret chords that demand less wrist movement? Or should I just accept my fate, give up on hoping to get to do my job properly ever again, and also sell all my ukes on the marketplace? (NO!!!!!!!)

Thanks!

Ouch! It sounds like you did a good job on that wrist! I broke my right wrist a couple of years ago, but apparently not as badly as you have. I have had no problems with the shortening of bones, and no loss of or restriction to movement, once healed. It was stiff and sore for quite some time, but it eventually sorted itself out. I wish I could shed some light on your wrist situation, but I can't.

As for your desire to play D7, how are you fretting it? There is the 2223 fretting, which is a proper D7, and I suspect that's the fingering you're using. Perhaps you could try the alternative, sometimes referred to as the 'Hawaiian' D7, fretted 2020. It works quite well under most circumstances, and you may find it easier on your wrist.

I hope that helps, at least a little bit, and I wish you a speedy and full recovery....
 

ukuLily Mars

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I cannot help, but I wanted to say ALOHA and it's so good to see you here!!! I will keep good thoughts for you and I hope you find a doctor who will help you.

I will suggest the "Hawai'ian" D7, which is not a barre chord. I don't use it much except for songs from the 20's (well, okay, I play a lot of those) and songs that are meant to sound Hawai'ian. I don't know if it's actually Hawai'ian but it does seem to work on some of those songs. I generally try both and just play which I like better in the moment. It's fingered 2020 (index finger on the G string, second fret, and middle finger on the E string, second fret). I'm assuming you're in gCEA tuning. Then again, you could also try a different tuning, but then you may have trouble with other chords.

I really hope you get some help with this, and soon! We miss you around here. DON'T SELL ALL YOUR 'UKES!
 

Lalz

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Thanks Mailman and Lily! You're right, 2020 is indeed much easier to fret. It sounds a bit different but it's a very good alternative. Hurray! :)

Any other chords that have similar non-wrist-twisting alternatives? There are so many chords around and so many I'm having troubles with now, I don't even know which ones to ask about...
 

Doc_J

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This is a useful app to find chords.

http://ukebuddy.com/chord-finder

BTW I broke my fretting index finger and cracked the knuckle years ago (fractured splintered and jammed back together). While it's a little shorter, at slight angle, and has motion limits, playing shorter scale ukes first helped. It took some years of limbering up my finger and knuckle. Now I can play tenors and baritones. Hope you can get back to where you were and further, even if done slightly different.
 

Skinny Money McGee

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Sounds like you had a "Colles" fracture.

If you play a C chord, your thumb is behind the neck. A D7 is adding your #2 finger across the strings. Being a registered xray tech, I'm not seeing where you would be having the problem since your #1 thru 5 digits articulate on the carpel bones and not directly on the radius or ulna. You are working some muscles though.

Is it possible you could have the nut on the uke filed to lower the action so you don't need as much pressure to barre the chord? and or tilt your uke forward a bit so your not having to bend your hand so much? (less flexion)

University of Connecticut has a straight forward article on it. http://nemsi.uchc.edu/clinical_services/orthopaedic/handwrist/distal_radius.html (info which you probably know already)

Don't give up, work through it and be persistent. You can do it.
 
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hibiscus

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I had a very bad break several years ago, my wrist settled in an odd manner, but with time the pain went away, a lot of time. Good luck!
 

anthonyg

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Here's a left field suggestion. For my own peculiar reasons I fret with my hand above the fretboard and not bellow. I hardly use the fretting hand thumb at all. You could give it a try although it will involve a lot of relearning. Some chords will be easier and some harder.

Here's me playing an original song.

Anthony
 

Lalz

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This is a useful app to find chords.

http://ukebuddy.com/chord-finder

BTW I broke my fretting index finger and cracked the knuckle years ago (fractured splintered and jammed back together). While it's a little shorter, at slight angle, and has motion limits, playing shorter scale ukes first helped. It took some years of limbering up my finger and knuckle. Now I can play tenors and baritones. Hope you can get back to where you were and further, even if done slightly different.

Thanks Doc! Sorry that you went through this but reading that you got back to playing gives me hope :) I hope I get there too!

So you said smaller ukes were easier than bigger ones? All the ukes I have are quite small (soprano to concert), I was hoping bigger sizes would be easier.
 

Lalz

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Sounds like you had a "Colles" fracture.

If you play a C chord, your thumb is behind the neck. A D7 is adding your #2 finger across the strings. Being a registered xray tech, I'm not seeing where you would be having the problem since your #1 thru 5 digits articulate on the carpel bones and not directly on the radius or ulna. You are working some muscles though.

Is it possible you could have the nut on the uke filed to lower the action so you don't need as much pressure to barre the chord? and or tilt your uke forward a bit so your not having to bend your hand so much? (less flexion)

University of Connecticut has a straight forward article on it. http://nemsi.uchc.edu/clinical_services/orthopaedic/handwrist/distal_radius.html (info which you probably know already)

Don't give up, work through it and be persistent. You can do it.

Thanks McGee!

I think it's indeed a "Colles" fracture (the doctors never bother to explain anything to me, so I get most of my info from the internet. The page you recommended is one of the ones I've been reading actually, excellent explanations!)

The thing with the D7 chord is that in order to barre with my index finger I have to try and twist my wrist clock-wise from the C position (I'm one of those heretics who keep the neck in the curve between the index and thumb most of the time - don't judge! hehe ;-) ) and that's what I'm having trouble with because the bone gets in the way somehow when I change position to D7. It's hard to explain because I'm not great at anatomy, but it's a very strange feeling. Like it knocks against the hand bone? You mention muscles, do you think it might just the muscles holding those bones too tight together and that after some time of physio I could get the the whole thing to loosen up?

I should definitely try to convert to the thumb-behind-the-neck technique and tilt the uke forward, very good point. Thanks! Like Doc said, I have to try to do things a bit differently.

The action is as low as it gets btw, all my ukes are very nicely set-up. Love them! <3 <3 <3
 

Lalz

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I had a very bad break several years ago, my wrist settled in an odd manner, but with time the pain went away, a lot of time. Good luck!

Thanks! Sorry about your injury :( Glad to hear the pain went away though. And I guess you don't have problems playing now, given your long list of ukes? ;) That's great!
 

Lalz

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Here's a left field suggestion. For my own peculiar reasons I fret with my hand above the fretboard and not bellow. I hardly use the fretting hand thumb at all. You could give it a try although it will involve a lot of relearning. Some chords will be easier and some harder.

Here's me playing an original song.

Anthony

Wow, what a great video! And what an interesting way to hold the neck and fret. Before playing the video I thought you'd be holding the uke on your knees, I don't think I've seen anyone play like this before. It looks difficult though, not sure I'd manage to learn. How do you do it???
 

Doc_J

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Thanks Doc! Sorry that you went through this but reading that you got back to playing gives me hope :) I hope I get there too!

So you said smaller ukes were easier than bigger ones? All the ukes I have are quite small (soprano to concert), I was hoping bigger sizes would be easier.

Since my index finger injury was before my uke playing days and had left me with motion limits, smaller scales (less stretching) were better for me at first. Sold my first tenor because I just couldn't fret without some discomfort. But after a little more than a year of playing concerts and sopranos, I had no problem.

For your wrist injury, what works best at first could very well be different. Maybe the neck profile is more important? Recovery periods of 6-months to a year following a broken joint are not uncommon (Took me a year to make a fist). Keep moving as much as the doctor recommends.
 

wayfarer75

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Are you using a strap? If not, it might help you adjust how you hold and fret your ukes.
 

HendrikM

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I had that with my right wrist. Colles fracture. Radius shorter and joint healed at an angle. Happened a year ago and because it didn't heal right they went in and re-broke it just this february and actually took a small graft from my hip to rebuild it. Still recovering but it made a huge difference.

In fact I just started the ukulele to help with exercising the wrist. So I can't give you a before and after. But it did address the pain in certain positions which I could imagine forming chords. The difference for me was night and day. The shorter bone changes the geometry of the joint and the longer bone then starts impinging on those sensitive bones in the wrist when put under load.

I can sympathize with what you are going through. Your mileage may vary, but what they did worked for me.
 

anthonyg

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Wow, what a great video! And what an interesting way to hold the neck and fret. Before playing the video I thought you'd be holding the uke on your knees, I don't think I've seen anyone play like this before. It looks difficult though, not sure I'd manage to learn. How do you do it???

The body is against my belly but the headstock is getting up towards my knees. As I said I have my own peculiar reasons. I did try to play guitar in a regular position MANY years ago but it was just too difficult for me ergonomically. A few years ago I went looking for an accompanying instrument for my singing and I just had a hunch that fretting a ukulele over the top would work. And it did.

Anthony
 

SailingUke

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First of all, sorry to hear about your injury, hopefully you will heal in time.
Have you thought about playing as a lefty?, it may take time to re-learn, but possibly your damaged left hand can handle strumming.
 
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I also broke my fretting wrist almost about a year and a half ago. I don't know that the bones are shorter or longer but the plate and screws have made some of the same chord playing impossible. I found I need to use different positioning for many chords and some of the same chords I could play in 1st position are easier in 2nd. Go figure. I used to play a Kamaka Pineapple which is now too small but I found a concert easier and the baritone I'm playing (very recent) now much, much easier. You might want to try some other folks ukes and see if there's a difference. For me it's easier to barre the chords since my fingers usually only have to hold down one or two other strings. (It also helps get more movement in my thumb doing all those pressing exercises from the back). Good luck.
 

Tootler

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I usually fret D7 2020 as it suits the type of music I mostly play, folk song. If I do need to use a "proper" D7, I use all four fingers. Index, middle & ring on the G, C & E strings & pinkie on the A string. I do have fairly small hands, so I can squeeze them all on OK.

I'm finding that moving my thumb more round the back of neck is making for more precise fretting, so I am trying to develop that. It might also help with your problem as well.

I so rarely need barre chords, I have never really taken the time to learn to do them properly. I can usually just avoid them by using a different tuning or a capo. I know I ought to learn them, but ... However in your case keeping ukes in different tunings and using a capo might be a way to help you carry on playing songs you are finding painful just now.

Where are you in the UK? If your docs aren't volunteering info, try asking them. I've found they are mostly pretty good with telling you if you ask. Certainly the surgeon who dealt with my Bowel cancer was and my GP is excelent in that respect. The NHS is mostly very good but does vary.
 
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Nickie

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I'm glad you injury is healing. I havent' injured myself, but am dealing with two kinds of pain. I fired the physical therapists and two neurologists. I am seeing a Chinese medicine practitioner and I feel better after one visit....you might try it, I hope your results are as good as mine! I have a lot more energy now...