Pinky Pulley A4 - pop!


Original Post
Vernon W · · New York, NY · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 60

:( 

Heard a pop while crimping hard on a right-hand side pull. All four primary fingers were crimping and the pinky involuntarily straightened out (and the "pop" occurred) at the upper joint in between the A4 and A5 pulley sites.

There was no immediate pain. Almost an hour later, 1) I find I still have near 100% mobility in it, 2) there are no signs of swelling, but 3) I can only move it gingerly without causing discomfort. When I press on the finger, only at the A4 site do I feel slight pain. 

I'm looking for re-assurance from others that may have faced a similar situation and can hopefully rest my mind by hearing that this is only a "partial" tear and with the appropriate/standard treatment (RICE, sufficient time off, gradual ease back into climbing), my finger will be back to normal! Otherwise, I will continue sulking and contemplate paying a trip to the doctor.

Thanks all,

Vernon

Goat Slayer · · Olympia, WA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

Okay do NOT climb on it. Simple fact. Do NOT.

You need to let that recover if it's anything like a torn MCL.

Dropped about 15 feet from an overhung highball onto my feet. Heard a pop in my right knee...

Rice that buddy up and take it EASY. Work your core hard. Stretch a lot. Build leg flexibility and endurance. You'll be a stronger climber by the time you get back.

cheers.

Prithipal Khalsa · · San Diego · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

A "partial tear" is still not good. Take 2-4 weeks off then ease back in over 1 week. I had the same thing happen to me twice in the past. The first time I didn't care and kept climbing, I was out for 3 months. Second time I was out only about 4 weeks before I was back at full strength. 

AndyMac · · Center, CO · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 580

Time off of climbing, yes, but there's more to it than just resting.  A lot of things to do to keep everything moving and healing.

A proper diagnosis helps. Find a local ortho that uses ultrasound and get a good look at what's up in there. 

Good Luck

Vernon W · · New York, NY · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 60

For anyone interested...I visited an orthopedic doctor specializing in hand injuries (Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser - the Robert E. Carroll Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia).

He told me incredible news. The lack of pain and swelling, as well as ability to move and apply force using the afflicted finger indicates that the pulley was only partially torn - and to a much lesser degree than I imagined. X-rays were done to ensure the bone structure was okay. MRIs were not necessary since simple finger movement/functionality tests confirmed the doctor's diagnosis. He was extremely confident. He even suggested that I can start physical exercise (climbing included!) immediately, but to the extent that I do not cause any pain or discomfort to the finger, and obviously no shock-loading the finger...so eeeeasy climbs.

Additional things I learned: 

Tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue are all composed of a similar inelastic biomaterial with different purposes (thus different names). They have an extremely high breaking point. It is difficult to break them, but when we do via climbing or other extreme pressures (such as baseball pitchers gripping a ball apparently), we hear that "pop". Partial tears such as mine take no less than 6 weeks to heal. Movement and heat can help blood flow and the overall recovery process. Massaging and mechanical pressure can help align cells and fiber structures, as well as reduce scar tissue to enhance long-term mobility. A fully lacerated (completely torn) pulley with obvious bowstringing is an entirely different beast and only then should surgery be contemplated..

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,440

Had one exactly like this about 3 years ago.  The pinky too.  I didn't climb for two weeks and wasn't able to full crimp on it for about another 8.  I went too fast and pushed it a bit.  It was my first finger tendon injury.  Because I didn't allow for adequate healing time, there's now a permanent 10-15 degree bend in that finger.  Can't straighten it.  Doesn't really affect anything though.

Bill Shubert · · Lexington, MA · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 55

For a pinky is it necessary to stop all climbing? What if you splinted the pinky up so it couldn't move?

I had a partial pulley tear in a middle finger a few months back, and had to take about six weeks off before I could climb again. But then, the middle finger bears a lot of the load during any climb, even easy climbs will push you to bring your middle fingers into use. If I'd injured my pinky instead, I probably would have tried to keep climbing...would I have regretted it?

Edit: Jake Jones looks like he already answered my question. And yes, if his experience is typical then you should lay off it, unless you're OK with a permanent bend.

jmmlol · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0
Bill Shubert wrote:

For a pinky is it necessary to stop all climbing? What if you splinted the pinky up so it couldn't move?

I had a partial pulley tear in a middle finger a few months back, and had to take about six weeks off before I could climb again. But then, the middle finger bears a lot of the load during any climb, even easy climbs will push you to bring your middle fingers into use. If I'd injured my pinky instead, I probably would have tried to keep climbing...would I have regretted it?

Edit: Jake Jones looks like he already answered my question. And yes, if his experience is typical then you should lay off it, unless you're OK with a permanent bend.

There are some strong climbers who open hand crimps with three fingers.

Benj84 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 425
Jake Jones wrote:

Had one exactly like this about 3 years ago.  The pinky too.  I didn't climb for two weeks and wasn't able to full crimp on it for about another 8.  I want too fast and pushed it a bit.  It was my first finger tendon injury.  Because I didn't allow for adequate healing time, there's now a permanent 10-15 degree bend in that finger.  Can't straighten it.  Doesn't really affect anything though.

haha, I also got antsy in my pantsies after a pinky pulley and I also have a permanent 15 degree bend in my pinky

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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