View Full Version : More questions about pinky fingers

02-26-2014, 09:11 AM
Say your pinkie finger has been severed at the knuckle closest to the palm (no stump or stub, a clean cut) and assume that it's healed just fine. No infection or anything like that. What do you have to relearn to do if you're in a fantasy setting? I actually tried using a band-aid to stick my pinky finger to my ring finger to try it out, but I don't think that's helping me see what would have to be relearned.

The character is right handed and it is the right handed pinkiy that she loses. She's a fighter and utilizes swords, daggers, knows how to use a bow. She saddles her own horse and wood carving is one of her hobbies. What day-to-day activities would be difficult? Would dressing be harder? I'm assuming tying one's bootlaces might be difficult.

Also, I'm wondering if someone who has lost a pinky might experiences phantom-limb pain or sensation? I'm assuming the answer is 'yes', but you know what they say about making assumptions.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

02-26-2014, 09:39 AM
Basically nothing. Your grip still feels normal though some fine motor coordination gets lost. You adapt really quickly to a lost pinky finger.

Now, what do you need to happen in your story?


02-26-2014, 10:17 AM
I'm with Jeff. Of all the digits to lose, I think the pinky finger would affect me the least. I would have to learn how to touch-type all my stories without ever using a semicolon; beyond that, I think my other fingers would compensate for the loss.

I would definitely expect there to be a period of emotional adjustment. I'd have to get used to not seeing the finger when I looked at my hand.

Beyond that, what does your story need?

02-26-2014, 11:08 AM
My grandfather lost his pinky in WWII, so I'm familiar with this :-) He was a pastor, so the biggest issue was handshakes. (People didn't always notice the missing finger right away, but pastors shake hands a lot and it becomes immediately obvious). He also claims it's the reason his handwriting is so bad, but my mom found one of his old school papers (from before the war) and she says it was just as bad before :-P

I think the biggest thing is that the hand shape itself alters a bit - the rest of his fingers no longer go "straight" when compared to the direction his wrist is facing. The pinky provides a lot of stability and balance, so anything like a sword or a hoe would be harder to use because you wouldn't have the same amount of control over the torque.

02-26-2014, 11:24 AM
I don't think tying bootlaces would be a problem. I have small children and I am often using pinky fingers to do other things than the rest of my hand and I can tie my bootlaces just fine with me pinky otherwise engaged with say a shopping bag.

The thing I would be more concerned about would be the balance. If the other fingers no longer go straight, then sword work could take a little retraining. This seems more like an answer for some serious reenacters. You might try their websites.

02-26-2014, 09:27 PM
My grandfather lost half his pinky before WWII. He still made all the medical cuts and passed everything except he couldn't go to flight school (but that was because of a heart murmur that never affected anything else in his life). He was a mechanic, a farmer, a hunter, and a very hand-on kind of person. His lacking most of his pinky never seemed to bother him.

My right pinky won't straighten all the way - never has. It can get in the way when I'm working on something that requires a lot of dexterity. But I don't think dressing or 99.9% of things would be that much different whether it was fully functional or not there. People like to tell me my hand looks funny since my pinky won't straighten, so there would be the getting used to the appearance of a missing digit.

Maybe balancing a sword would be more difficult, but I think the other fingers would strengthen and take over pretty quickly. My pinky is really weak, so after playing the piano or something that requires a lot of stretching and using my pinky and ring finger, they hurt for awhile. (I did a lot of finger/hand strengthening exercises when I played piano.) Your character might have some pain in her ring finger as she puts more strain on it.

Pinkies definitely aren't workhorse fingers. I'd think losing index, middle, or thumb would be much, much worse.

02-26-2014, 09:40 PM
My mom had her pinky finger chewed off by a dirt bike chain. It didn't seem to be a problem for her. She saddled and rode horses, threw bales, rode a motorcycle, sewed leather, and was a very good marksman.

She did mention occasional phantom limb pain. I'm not sure how long it lasted.

Drachen Jager
02-27-2014, 06:39 AM
Here's a good video on phantom limb pain. It may not be what you need, but it offers some fascinating insight into the problem and includes a $20 cure that seems to work universally. (you may want to mention this to your mom, Wicked)


02-28-2014, 02:44 AM
Thanks for the replies. I don't need anything specific for my story. I just want it to be realistic. I mean, I don't want my character to be able to do something easily if it would be difficult in real life. I do have to show her dealing with having to relean a few things. I assume she'd have to adjust her fighting skills a bit. I'd think holding a sword or dagger might be a bit different, for example.

02-28-2014, 04:33 PM
Losing a pinky finger would make playing certain musical instruments tricky (things like the flute that have pinky-finger keys that have to be used in combination with the other fingers working other keys), and it would be hard to play cat's cradle & make those complicated figures that involve 10 fingers doing different things at the same time. Other than that, I don't think there's much that a person couldn't learn to compensate for if the rest of the hand is functional.

02-28-2014, 08:50 PM
I didnt lose my pinky finger, but I had most of my left ring finger cut off. Grip strength is a problem in my left hand. I have about 25% less strength in my left hand now. Before it was cut off, my typing skills were non existant. But with some years of practice, I can type 45wpm most of the time. As for phantom pains, the tip of my ring finger used to itch for years. It was quite maddening until I figured out that rubbing the insides of the fingers on either side of the nub stopped the itching. That lasted maybe three years. I know its not the same, but I hope this helps.