Mountain Project Logo

Numb, tingly, painful fingertips after frostnip...Prognosis?

Original Post
Smith Curry · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 0

Got caught in a storm on a long alpine route 2 weeks ago and the next day my fingertips were pretty painful and sensitive---no skin damage though...they've gotten a little better in 2 weeks but I'm still concerned (I'm a professional musician also).  Anybody have any experience with this and any idea when things might get better?
Thanks

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 752

Sorry to hear about that.  My only cold issues were some frozen toes after falling into a stream while ice climbing, forcing me to endure two hours of hiking back to the car with a boot full of snowmelt.  It took about a year for sensation to return back to normal in the affected toes.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Did you see a doctor?

Marc H · · Longmont, CO · Joined May 2007 · Points: 255
Smith Curry wrote:Prognosis?

YGD.

Andy Eiter · · Madison, WI · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 126

I had a similar sensation in my fingers after biking to work on a -50 morning this winter. I think the pain went away after a couple days, but there was still that kind of "reheated" feeling for a couple of weeks.

june m · · elmore, vt · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 43

No blisters? Peeling skin? Probably ok  but always  more sensitive  to cold. Frostbitten toes years ago skiing and I have to wear boot heaters when it's really cold. It's been 20 years plus.

Boissal . · · Small Lake, UT · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 1,521
Smith Curry wrote: Got caught in a storm on a long alpine route 2 weeks ago and the next day my fingertips were pretty painful and sensitive---no skin damage though...they've gotten a little better in 2 weeks but I'm still concerned (I'm a professional musician also).  Anybody have any experience with this and any idea when things might get better?
Thanks

I had a similar experience a few winters ago touring in the Wasatch. It didn't feel overly cold but the wind was really strong, I had numb fingers on and off and kept swinging my arms around to get them back. Once back at the car I realized I had been a bit loose about the whole thing, every one of the tips felt swollen and tender. There was no visible damage but light numbness and tingling in the tips which faded over the course of a couple of weeks. I continued feeling it when putting pressure on the index/thumb pads for a solid 3 months. Either it resolved or I grew used to it, it's hard to tell.  

Edit: as June M mentioned, once it's happened the area appears significantly more sensitive to repeat frostnip/bite. I had never been bothered by the cold but the past 2 winters have been hell on my fingers, I went from light softshell gloves every day to shell+liner beefy leather gloves and I'm still cold most of the time.
Allen Sanderson · · On the road to perdition · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,188

Part of the issue with frost nip/bite is not only damage to the tissue and vessels but also the nerves. That is what you are dealing with, nerve damage. The nerves will come back just takes some time.

Ero Sennin · · Pyles Peak, CA · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 185

Smith, I had it happen on a subzero day and I stayed out too long.  I lost feeling on both my right and left pinkie and ring fingers.  It was about three months before they felt normal again.  There was no tingling, but numbness that slowly subsided week by week.  Both hands are definitely more sensitive to the cold now, but feel completely normal again.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Boissal . wrote:

Edit: as June M mentioned, once it's happened the area appears significantly more sensitive to repeat frostnip/bite. I had never been bothered by the cold but the past 2 winters have been hell on my fingers, I went from light softshell gloves every day to shell+liner beefy leather gloves and I'm still cold most of the time.

I broke down last year and bought OR heated gloves. Regarding my poor feet, thanks to mild frostbite in college (Franconia range traverse in NH), I've used Hotronics boot heaters ever since they first became available in the 80's. I wouldn't be able to ski below 40F otherwise.
Roots · · Redmond. OR · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 20

1 year is my guess

Thumper ... · · Lawton, Ok · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 306
Allen Sanderson wrote: Part of the issue with frost nip/bite is not only damage to the tissue and vessels but also the nerves. That is what you are dealing with, nerve damage. The nerves will come back just takes some time.

x2^ I had this happen in my toes, took about 6 months to regain the feeling and lose the tingly sensation.

Jim Amidon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 880

The feeling will return just takes time happened to me and my climbing buddy one winter in Cody.....

5 degree high wasn't worth the tissue damage.......But it was our first time up  Sendero Illuminoso so we went for it.

That was the last day we climbed that trip as the temps were too cold........

And it's not quite as permanent as frost bite but I swear in the winter there are fingers and toes that feel it first.....

Seems mt fingers and toes had that feeling for months until it was gone

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 210

If you lost feeling and it didn't come back as you rewarmed the area but color did return you got minor frostbite, it will remedy its self in about 6 weeks or so and you will get 99% of feeling back, then it takes a few more weeks to get that 1% afterwards you should be as before. This is based on my personal experience with minor frostbite, so your times may vary, you should make a full recovery though in a fairly short time. 

Smith Curry · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 0

Thanks for all the replies everyone! Hopefully things just get better quickly

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
Post a Reply to "Numb, tingly, painful fingertips after frostnip…"

Log In to Reply