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Injury advice

Original Post
Tyler Metheney · · St Louis · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Well it finally happened, the dreaded pulley injury. Yesterday while using a finger pocket I heard a loud pop followed by pain. It's the A2 on my ring finger. Today it's swollen but has sensation an I can move it gingerly. Yet have trouble gripping a doorknob. Does anyone have any advice on how to recover quickly? I definitely don't want to rush it an take me out longer. Any tips are appreciated. Cheers.

Justin Meyer · · Madison, WI · Joined May 2012 · Points: 51

Go to the doctor and get it checked out if you haven't.

Don't injure it again by climbing on it too soon.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but finger injuries can take a long time to heal. I had a similar but less damaging injury (no popping sound, no swelling) and it took about a year to be back to where I didn't notice anything unusual anymore. Not to say that I couldn't use it but for months it hurt if I put weight on it. After that I just felt "tight" for about a year. It might be different if you are younger though, I was 35 at the time.

Keith W · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 80

Good advice. I had a similar injury last winter climbing in the gym. I didn't hear a pop but I did get a tweaking sensation and my whole palm went numb. Turns out I sprained the sh*t out of my A2. Took me out for about 3 months before I was able to climb without a ton of pain, but it was still sore afterwards and I probably should have stayed off of it longer. If you only sprained it there isn't a whole lot a doctor can do (other than give you better advice than me) but if it is torn or separated you are in for a long haul.
I know it will suck to be out of the game for a while but you better take care of it early and hopefully climb again in a few months or risk damaging it further.

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310


Time to dig out the ice bucket.... ice as much as you can take.

Give it two weeks, with no climbing, then see how sore it is....

if not to bad... I would start off each morning with a nice long soak (15min)in warm to hot water to loosen it up.... so you can work- type, comb your hair, drive car etc... It might help to tape it to an adjacent finger.

Take up some sort of aerobic activity that will not cause your finger to hurt... stationary bike, stair master or just a good old fashion Up-hill long hike. Plan some Pk bagging trips.

Take the time to get it so its not hurting before you CRANK again. And then take it slowly.... do not jump back on the campus board, climb some slabs. Be sure to warm up before any activity (water and aerobics) and ice after.

Learn how to tape your fingers, tape the bands so they get support when you pull.

being injured is no fun, but rushing to get back into it will most likely put you back at square one.

best o luck to you

Bradulus · · Longmont, CO · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 0

Eric Horst's training for climbing has a section specifically on pulleys you can check out. I haven't read it in a while, but my takeaway was stay off it completely for a solid period of time. When I had mine, I took a full 30 days off, then eased into use by using those rubber donuts with increasing stiffness. At about 45 days I was climbing again. Maybe you can do it faster, and I'm sure it depends on the severity of the injury, but that formula worked well for me. Mine was also stiff for a while but that subsided.

Bradulus · · Longmont, CO · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 0

Looks like he is nice enough to post it on his website:

Luke Dunklee · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 50

My sympathies. Finger injuries suck.

1) By far the most important advice is mentioned above. Give it time to heal. The pulleys and tendons are notoriously slow to heal due to being fibrous tissues with limited blood supply. To put in perspective, I think my injury was mild compared to what others experience, and I'm still recovering 1 year later. DON'T CLIMB for at least 4 to 6 weeks, preferably longer. Then start slowly and cautiously, below your grade, only on jugs and avoiding crimps. You may be able to do some gentle finger work with rubber bands. I don't hangboard, so can't comment on how long you should wait; probably ages.

2) Initial goal should probably be to reduce inflammation. Ice baths are good. I personally could not keep inflammation down without taking ibuprofen. Some will remark about NSAIDs preventing healing, but I don't see much research support for this; quick review of the literature shows some evidence of delaying bone healing, but no clear evidence on soft tissue and tendons. The potential of excess inflammation to damage soft tissue, on the other hand, is well documented. YMMV. Consult with a doctor and make sure you can otherwise tolerate these meds.

3) After initial inflammation is controlled, increasing blood flow to the finger is probably helpful. Aerobic workouts that don't stress the joint are probably the most helpful. Alternating ice and heat may help. Gentle finger strengthening exercises are probably helpful later in recover, so long as you don't over do it.

Good luck. Enjoy your new excuse to climb fun and easy! :)

Tom Dursch · · Somerville, MA · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 10

You can always start a new hangboarding cycle and use all combinations of grips without your R A2 if you want to preserve some strength!

Once you are fully healed, though, I recommend strengthening your fingers to reduce the likelihood that a similar injury occurs in the future.

AaronJ · · Saint Louis, MO · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 178

I found this article pretty helpful as a breakdown of the recommendations in published literature:…

Chris Joe · · Arcadia, CA · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 86

Sorry to hear about your injury. I was sent this by a friend of mine when I pulled my ring finger.…

Just wanted to emphasize patience in your recovery time. I turned a 2-3 month recovery to nearly a year because I climbed way too soon.

Best wishes on your recovery!

Jjensen · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 25

I'm dealing with the exact same injury. I injured while bouldering in the gym the first week of January. I was also hanging on pocket holds and felt a distinct pop. I haven't climbed on it since. It's forced me to focus on cardio. Anyway, it seems to be healing. At least, I've got much less discomfort associated with finger movement. I'd like to get back to climbing, but I think I'm going to give it at least another week or two before I start experimenting with some easy routes. Something I've done, which seems to have helped, is I've put a heating pad on it every night. I didn't see a doctor. I stopped climbing, iced it for the first couple days and have been applying heat ever night. I'm not out of the woods yet, but it seems to be improving. Good luck.

Tyler Metheney · · St Louis · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Feel like I was just reading about myself. I haven't used a heating pad. Icee bath for first 2 days I do use a sock stuffed with rice (equivalent to a baseball) and heat it up then roll it around and grip it. IT'S been a week and a day since that dreaded pop. However,I feel like the recovery is going great. I can make a fist pain free now and also do resistance stretches. Hope you recover soon. I'm heading,with the wife to a small crag on Friday. I'm hoping I can mess around on some 5.4-5.7 range. My finger will be taped as well as splinted to my middle. I know that takes away mobility but I don't need much for those grades. Just wan5 yo be really careful. Best of luck to you.

Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 150

I broke a bone in my left pinky finger.... just walking, lost my footing... and don't you know, it's a bad unstable fracture at the knuckle, had to have surgery.

It's true, fingers are tricky. I am really bummed out and I a dearly hope not to lose any function long-term. It's so freaking stiff and a bit swollen still, but I am moving it as hard as I can.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Wear a finger brace on it while it heals up. I was given that advice when I popped mine and I ignored it. It healed but I can't straighten it out anymore. It's about 30 degrees bent. It is strong but gets beat up on cracks, I can't hardly climb flares anymore. Gloves don't fit right, and sometimes I can't fit my hand in my pocket.

It started going crooked at 3 weeks and after 8 years, is just as crooked.

I was strong again with tape at 6 months. Pain free at 2 years.

Good luck.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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