/ Finger/forearm injury advice

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L Kate pettit - on 16 May 2019

Hi all, I’m wondering if anyone can help as I feel a bit lost. 

Recently bouldering, I felt some discomfort in my ring finger and wrist. Next thing I knew, while not pulling particularly hard on a large undercling pocket, I heard a twang and immediate sharp pain in my forearm. No swelling or bruising etc and I went straight to th pub for ice. My forearm felt like it was pumped for a couple of hours after and my hand movement (gripping) felt slow and weak although I could still grip to a normal strength, it just felt different. I iced finger and forearm for 3 days and saw a Physio whose told me it’s my ulnar nerve and sent me away with some very small exercises and ulner nerve glides. That was 2 weeks ago (I a am seeing him again on Monday). I have no pain unless I pull directly on my ring finger alone, it’s still as sharp and acute as it was 2 weeks ago and the pain shoots up into my forearm. 

Ive been doing some reading about FDP muscle and tendon (flexor digitalis profundus) and this sounds about spot on. Certainly the description of pain. 

I can’t find a name for this injury nor can I find out how to treat it and if I should be able to climb? I’d greatly appreciate any signposting or advice with this as I’m feeling sceptical about my physics diagnosis, as I don’t have any nerve irritation when testing and it just doesn’t feel right. 

Thanks in advance 

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timparkin - on 12:51 Fri
In reply to Kate pettit:

I had something similar when I started climbing. I was pinching really hard but with my little finger curled right in. I got a pain afterward in the belly of my forearm and in my palm. Almost certainly flexor unit strain/lumbrical tear and possibly strain across the fascia of the extensor digiti minimi and extensor digitorum. Something to Google at least...  Just for the record, I am not a doctor but I've a PhD in Google! ;-)

https://trainingforclimbing.com/lumbrical-training-rehab/

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HannahC - on 14:07 Fri
In reply to Kate pettit:

Sorry Kate this sounds horribly familiar to me. I tore my flexor tendon back in December 2017. Side pulls and undercuts are the most common holds to this injury.

Really severe pain shooting up from my hand into the forearm. Pain was induced using the ring or little finger but no soreness in the fingers pulleys are you would expect for a finger injury.  

If you can get to Bristol I can recommend the physio who diagnosed my injury and set up the treatment plan if not it might be worth getting a recommendation for someone who's local to you and knows climbing. My treatment plan effectively meant no climbing for 12 weeks which no one wants at this time of year, especially without a professional diagnosis. Fingers crossed it's something different. 

(The rehab was 4 weeks rest, 4 weeks feet on weighting on jugs - fingerboard & foot rail. 4 weeks at the wall statically using the arm in different hand positions.)

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sxrxg - on 14:11 Fri
In reply to Kate pettit:

Before I start I would say listen to your doctor/physio as they have seen the injury... However from what you describe i had something similar a couple of years ago, I could use 4 fingers without pain however as soon as i dropped the little finger and split it away from the ring finger i got really bad pain in the forearm. I also did some research and believe that this could have been the FDP muscle as the ring and little finger tendons join into the one muscle and therefore if they are not used together and you have torn the muscle where the tendons join it then you get pain. 

With regards to rehab I fingerboarded at first being strict to only use 4 fingers on holds and then once i was confident I wasn't getting any pain from this started climbing with the pinky finger taped to the adjacent ring finger so that i could not separate them, whilst this made some climbs difficult it did mean that I could climb pain free. I probably only took a week off climbing after the injury and then continued in this way for about 3-4 months at which point i started removing the tape during warm ups/downs when i could be strict and ensure i wouldn't overload the hand and split my fingers in a way that may cause the injury to reoccur. Eventually after about 6 months I felt confident that i could remove the tape and start climbing as normal again. 

Whilst it was frustrating having to climb around the injury sometimes it was better than some injuries that require complete rest. 

Anyway I hope it starts to improve for you soon and you can get back to climbing again. 

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