/ Finger pulley injury

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wurzelinzummerset on 31 Dec 2013
About 8 weeks ago I injured the middle finger of my left hand (A2 pulley tendon, I think). I've been climbing easy stuff with it several times a week since then, mainly indoors, avoiding fingery holds, but I'm still get swelling after a session. I've got a normal range of movement with the finger, and no pain except on certain holds (which I try to avoid) or if I press the base of the finger. I've read all the recommendations on the net about treatment, so i'm not interested in anyone linking me to that, what I am interested in is other peoples direct experience of how long this injury takes to resolve itself, particularly the swelling aspect.
dave frost - on 31 Dec 2013
In reply to wurzelinzummerset:

Depends how bad you pulled and generally how fast you heal (diet and general health etc). My last one took about 3 months for me to get comfortable with it on flat holds or open hand, and about 6 months before i was happy cranking/crimping on it again.
womblesi on 31 Dec 2013
In reply to wurzelinzummerset:


I have partially ruptured my A2 ring finger several times over the years. I have never really had swelling so can't comment on that part. When I have injured mine they have taken up to 3 months to fully heal. I have always continued to climb up to three times a week and taped but followed this advice:-


Good luck

Marcus Tierney - on 31 Dec 2013
In reply to wurzelinzummerset:

I had a similar injury a few years ago and it took months before it was right. Ice , Ibuprofen rest and gentle stretching. You will probably delay the recovery by using it too much. The swelling would concern me enough to seek specialist advice is all I can tell you.
yarbles - on 31 Dec 2013
In reply to wurzelinzummerset:

Done mine too although on ring finger. On advice I scraped together I'm taking three weeks off - no climbing at all! then three weeks easy stuff. Advice I had from friends is it'll just linger on otherwise. V frustrating but I'd rather get it better by spring / summer.

If it's swelling after a session I would def lay off for a few weeks. Regular stretching and massaging to break down scar tissue is supposed to help.
Hope it heals soon.
cha1n on 31 Dec 2013
In reply to wurzelinzummerset:

If it's still swollen then you're still in the stage where you should be resting it and swelling 8 weeks after an injury doesn't sound great but everyone's body chemistry is different I guess.

I'm sustained many minor A2 strains and climbing on jugs is not necessarily the answer as you are still bending the finger at the PIP joint and therefore putting stress on the injured pulley.

When I'm suffering a A2 injury, I only climb 3 finger, open-handed on the injured hand, like so; http://www.moonclimbing.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/CampusOpen.jpg

Even this can cause a slight bend at the PIP as you can see, maybe a good time to train 2 finger pockets?! The middle finger is the most awkward to let heal whilst climbing though imo, as there's not many grips that doesn't put a slight bend in the finger, perhaps if you climb slopers only.

Once you're through the swelling stage, I find that massaging the injury with your thumb, making small circular motions really speeds up recovery. I try to do it as often as I remember to during the day.

My pulley injuries range from 1-3 months to be painless 90% of the time and 6-9 months to be completely healed. For long term injury prevention you need to assess your climbing style and try and open-hand or half-crimp whenever possible. A crimp grip should be your last resort and used only on your hardest projects (imo)!
wurzelinzummerset on 01 Jan 2014
Thanks for all the replies. I've hand similar injuries before, without the swelling, but I then just stuck to easy trad for a month and things gradually improved in a way that I can't actually recall, now, how long it took. I think because I'm climbing more indoors this may be slowing the healing process because even, as pointed out by cha1n, climbing on plastic jugs can put strain on the injury in a way that playing about on the local severes outdoors as I did previously doesn't.

If I remember, I'll report back when I'm climbing as normal.
Ian Dunn - on 01 Jan 2014
In reply to wurzelinzummerset:

As you get older these injuries take longer and longer to heal, my last pulley injury in 2012 took 3 months to be pain free when touching the base of the finger. If there is swelling I would definitely stop for a bit, doing hot and cold baths seams to help and also some ultrasound from a good physic too. Be patent it will fix but only if you are willing to let it.
Ged Desforges - on 02 Jan 2014
In reply to wurzelinzummerset: the advice you don't want to hear is stop climbing. I've had experience of these and have often made them a lot worse by just taping it up and trying to carry on.

A good physio friend of mine has helped me learn how to sort them out. It needs a week or so of rest with ibuprofen to reduce the swelling, then start doing finger lifts with a sling and weight. Start off really light (half kg or so), and do a few sets of 15. Gradually increas the writ every few days, with a rest day every 2 or 3 days too. The idea is to get some blood flowing to it, and stimulate tendon repair, which just doesn't happen if its rested. A good motivator is to see what you can do with the same finger on your good hand, then aim to start climbing again when you can do close to that with the injured hand.

As somebody else mentioned, massaging it regularly makes a big difference. I just got into the habit of massaging it whenever I was standing around doing nothing.

wurzelinzummerset on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to Ged Desforges: Yes, you're right, that is the advice I don't want to hear -- but I was expecting it at some point. I am, however, massaging it as you, and others, suggest.

rubben - on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to wurzelinzummerset: HI Wurz, sorry to hear about your finger.
As mentioned, the swelling shows that you still need to rest and ice.
I fully ruptured my A2 pulley in my left ring finger in March 2012 - I had to take 6 months off really!
However, it does allow you to work on other areas; conditioning, core, antagonists etc, legs...

The fact that you've got full range is good and that only specific pain. You want to be icing 3 times a day 5-10mins in cold water treatment.
You want to be massaging throughout the day, everyday. I was taught about increasing blood flow through pressure points. Research this - but massaging your chest, then bicep, then elbow and forearm, then pinching the fleshy part of your thumb (hurts), then hand etc...really increases blood flow.
To ensure lack of scar tissue - keep the movement and range going - glider work. Like a cat scratching at the air - circular motion through height, extension, bending etc.

Good luck with recovery - unfortunately, rest is wise...better in the long run!

Ged Desforges - on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to wurzelinzummerset:
Remember, just massaging it won't help much if you keep on damaging it by climbing! Damaged tendons are weak and will keep on getting more damaged if you expect too much of it. Gentle, progressive loading is needed to get it repaired. But rest it first!

Go and buy yourself some running shoes.
wurzelinzummerset on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Ged Desforges:
Yes, I understand that. I think I've probably overdone it the last few weeks climbing indoors, despite sticking to easier routes, causing the swelling. But overall there has been an improvement over the eight weeks in that I can now use it for everyday tasks with no pain. So I'll probably climb indoors again soon, but step things back relative to my last session, keeping in mind the advice given above, and hopefully find routes I can climb without the swelling returning.

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