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Medical Professionals w/ climbing injury experience - A2 pulley partial tear

Original Post
ArturoCruz12 · · Augusta, GA · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

Currently living in Augusta, GA. Injured my ring finger on my left hand bouldering in Chattanooga back in October. I believe it is a partial tear of my A2 pulley. Any recommendations on finding a medical professional in the south east with experience in treating climbing injuries?

Ideally the closer to Augusta the better, but I am still backpacking and doing activities that don’t directly involve my hands, so I’d be willing to travel a bit.

I’ve seen a doctor already, but it wasn’t the best experience. Felt like I was fighting to throw words at him, rushed, and like I was half listened to. He didn’t seem to see the problem because I can still perform daily functions and feed myself just fine with little to no pain. Told him the main issue was when I stress the finger (i.e. climbing) and was told to avoid doing that.  Obviously not a permanent solution or an option for me.

Still he took x-rays and put me on a steroid dose pack. The steroid dose pack seemed to help a good bit. Just got referred to a physical therapist, but can’t find any information on the place and based on my experience with the doctor I’d prefer to go somewhere recommended by climbers. I was thinking Chattanooga, Atlanta, or Ashville has got to have someone, but couldn’t find anything.

Before this the longest finger injury I’ve had has lasted only a couple of weeks. So this is driving me crazy and any help/advice to get back to normal and back on the wall would be greatly appreciated.  Trying to be ready to climb for the fall!


unemployed astronaut · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

The doc may have been curt but he was right, a partial tear is treated with rest and PT until it doesn't hurt anymore. There's just not much else to be done about it

Brad Caldwell · · Deep in the Jocassee Gorges · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,285

I have had a couple of pulley tears on my left hand as well (ring and middle finger)...never found anyone to treat it. I fought through the pain and awkwardness for years until I just realized that it wasn't going to heal (happened in my mid 30's, so I think age had something to do with the lack of healing as I too had a pulley injury on my right hand years before that "healed" fine) and I had to permanently change how I approached climbing and bouldering. I had to stop climbing overhanging problems and seriously crimpy routes and focus more on slabby stuff focused on footwork and easier grades. I had been climbing in the V5-V7 range at my maximum when the injury occurred and now I stick to V3 or less overall or else I reaggravate the injury and have serious pain for a few weeks. The pulley tear on my ring finger never healed well too because of my wedding ring...putting it on and off again everyday over the tear, caused it to get massively inflamed all the time. The only solution I found was to buy a new ring that was a full size bigger, just to get over the area with the tear without aggravating it. 

I know this is not what you want to hear, but I have never heard anybody FULLY recover from a pulley tear and hear people complain that symptoms reoccur when they push their limits with that finger. I wish you the best of luck in finding a real solution!

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 564

Both of these women offer pretty sensible advice.

If I had a finger injury I'd give their approach a try.

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 735

Alison Stowers is in  Chattanooga, and I believe there are two other PTs at the same clinic who also are climbiers or see/treat climbers. While I do not think she specializes in fingers, Might be a good place to start asking.

Her's a recent interview with her:

Dana Bartlett · · CT · Joined Nov 2003 · Points: 890

I know this is not what you want to hear, but I have never heard anybody FULLY recover from a pulley tear . . .

Really? I've had 4-5 and except for the middle finger/right hand, they all healed - no lingering effects. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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