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Topic - Unique Elbow Injury Help?

jonnie3430 - on 09 Nov 2012

I can't find any other information on this problem, so I thought I'd log it here. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

What happens is that something in the elbow seems to "lock," meaning that I can't straighten the elbow, nor bend it due to pain (10/10 on the pain scale,) massaging the tip helps free it and leaving it for a minute or two of not bending it but doing something else generally frees it, once it's "locked," it'll happen again regularly over the next few days, more if I work it hard, less if I rest it. Random "locking," happens when driving the car, drinking tea, washing hair in the shower, etc... Because I know this happens, I have reduced my training and hard climbing (no indoor or bouldering, saving myself for trad,) but really love climbing in general and winter climbing in particular. I can probably comfortably climb IV, but V will cause the "locking." I really want to climb at this grade and above (and boulder and train,) so want a fix!

Bit of history: On 19 Sept 2009 I hurt my elbow on Huntly's Jam, a visit to the climbing wall a couple of days later showed that it was going to stop me climbing hard as the elbow would stick when climbing routes that required a lot of arm strength. I went to the sports physio at uni after about 6 months as it hadn't cleared up and they said it was damage to the triceps tendon where it enters the elbow. I was given ultrasound, massage and exercises and it improved but never went away (see post here when I ask for advice on more exercises: )

Three weeks ago I started more winter specific training by using what is easiest to describe as a campus board for axes (so climbing up and climbing down over a couple of metres using axes,) as the elbow is worst when winter climbing. The elbow started acting worse almost straight away and I decided to try to get it properly sorted out. A visit to my GP showed that there is restricted movement (about 5 degrees, or the hand is about 4 inches off a table when I put the upper arm flat,) he had me get x-rays and go to the physio.

I have just come back from the physio, who said there is nothing he can do as the x-ray showed two particles (calcius (?) type, which I take to be bone,) in the elbow socket and I still have equal strength in both arms. His understanding is that one of the particles is what is restricting the movement, the other jams occasionally, hence the locking. His initial advice was that it'll go away, which it hasn't. His second advice was that the body is not like a car which can be fixed when it is broken, so I should live with it, which means no hard climbing, and the third advice, after I told him it'll affect my career (I have a very active part-time job,) was to get an orthopaedic referral to get the joint looked at. I'm not entirely sure he believed me about the locking. I was waving a chair about in the hospital trying to get the arm to lock, (what he must see every day!) but couldn't do it!

I'm going back to my GP for an orthopaedic referral, but any advice would be appreciated, as would suggestions for further reading.
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