Pain in right ring finger

Original Post
Eric Krause · · Marquette, Michigan · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 105

Hi, Ive been climbing for about 11 months now. The other day I was climbing a fairly stubborn 5.9 in a gym and on the last move I caught a pocket with just my ring finger. I stuck this hold and finished the route but I had a lot of pain in my right ring finger once i got down. I sat down or belayed people for about another hour until the pain went away and i climbed some 5.10's and a 5.11 only noticing pain on one move on the 5.11. I felt fine later in the night but when i woke up my finger was sore. The pain isn't present when I'm resting my hand but it intensifies when i make a fist or if it gets bent funny. However it isn't painful to the touch anywhere on my hand. I also feel some pain on the inside of my forearm near my elbow but thats probably me just overreacting to normal aches. I'd appreciate some insight from climbers who've had similar issues or know someone whose had similar issues. I recently got of epicondylitis in my left arm (like 3 or 4 weeks ago) so I can safely say its not that.

Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 1,308

11 months. Your muscles have adapted but your tendons have not.

A rupture is usually accompanied by some sort of pop and depending on the severity, can require anywhere from a few months to surgery to heal. That doesn't sound like what you have, so, here's my suggestion.

Short term: ice and rest. If climbing continues to irritate the tendon, you don't have a brief acute injury (which can happen) and you need to take probably a month off.

Long term: time to start taking care of your body. Climbing places a lot of comparatively foreign stresses to very small bones and muscles.
After the finger stops hurting, you need to:

1, get on a gradually progressive and periodized hangboard schedule. Hangboarding does more than stimulate the muscles in your fingers. It also stimulates the tendons and bones. Keep in mind it can take up to 6 years for tendons to respond to a stimulus (Ref. Dave MacLeod's "Make or Break").

2, incorporate stretches and preventative exercises (reverse wrist curls and reverse supination) for your elbow. Be proactive and do these whether your arm hurts or not.

3, incorporate a warmup prior to your climbing session. This is absolutely critical. Not only are you warming up your muscles, but you're warming up the neurological pathways so that you can be more precise later in the climbing session.

4, understand and practice the art of rest. You can't go-go-go all the time and not expect injury. Take 2-3 days off between climbing days, especially if it was a hard day.

Bill Shubert · · Lexington, MA · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 50

I'm not an expert, but I had a very similar thing happen to me, right down to it happening about a year after I started.

Was doing a climb that wasn't too hard, but involved pulling most of my weight on a two finger pocket. As I pulled, I felt a twinge of pain, and one of my fingers started hurting. When I got down, the finger seemed totally functional but sore. The next day, it was sore, barely noticeable when resting but more painful whenever I used the finger for anything.

I kept climbing, but avoided using that finger for anything strenuous. It got slowly better, after a month or so it was fine, and has been fine ever since. But I still get nervous whenever I need to put a lot of force onto a one- or two- finger pocket.

Eric Krause · · Marquette, Michigan · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 105

Thanks for the replies. There was no pop at the injury. I used to be a distance runner and the pain is comparable in feel to a hamstring pull so i think it might just be a minor tweak or something.

MDoody · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

Just had a mild finger injury myself, so I've been doing some research on this.

My understanding is as follows:
You don't have muscles in your fingers. 'Finger' muscles are in your wrist (watch them move as you move your fingers). Those muscles pull on tendons that run up to your fingertips. You have 'pulleys' at each finger bone and each joint that wrap around the tendon - keeping it close to the bone.

When you grip, particularly crimp, you put a lot of stress on both the tendon and the pulleys. Those pulleys can tear, resulting in pain in the finger itself. You can also injure the tendons, usually resulting in pain in the wrist, but that can also extend up to the finger.

Both injuries can take a long time to heal properly, and can get much worse if ignored. Pay close attention and consider taping the finger when you do start back up.

AnnaG19 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
Eric Krause wrote:I felt fine later in the night but when i woke up my finger was sore. The pain isn't present when I'm resting my hand but it intensifies when i make a fist or if it gets bent funny.
I did something very similar a few days ago! I caught the flat top of a pinch with just my pinky and ring fingers and now they're a little stiff and they hurt when I make a fist or hold small things. I also have a bit of discomfort in my inner elbow area that connects to my pinky tendon.

What is this? Does anyone know? It doesn't HURT much, it's just a discomfort. I can't find anything like this on climbing injury sites so I'm at a loss for what it actually is because I don't think it's an A2 pulley....
Eric Krause · · Marquette, Michigan · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 105

I think it is just a tendon strain. The pain while making a fist has drastically gone down, its been six days at this point. Its more so just sore at this point unless I contort it or grip something weird. So at this point I'm planning on staying off of it until next Sunday which will be two weeks off. Im also going to tape it when I climb for the next couple of weeks. Thanks for all the help I always appreciate multiple opinions.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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