/ The long and windy road to recovery after scaphoid break.

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haworthjim on 14 Jan 2013
So I broke my scaphoid mountain biking in November. Was in pot for 8 weeks and have had it removed last week-wrist very stiff at the mo. Have yet to arrange physio but plan my first visit by the end of the week. I'm posting this looking for advice and people's experience of recovery (aka when am I climbing again)
Trevor Langhorne on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim:
You did well with only eight weeks in plaster I had 13! I wasn't offered any physio and don't think you need it. Everyday activities will get it moving in a short time, if it is like mine it will always have restricted movement, about 10 degrees less flexion so exercises that push the wrist to a right angle will make it stiff (e.g. a press up).

I climbed the day after the plaster was removed (yes I know how to spell idiot) and distinctly remember lurching from hold to hold with my good hand. Then had a couple of months of general exercise then some weights but no climbing and was right as rain. Obviously we are all different but I would say you should be climbing by March as you had less time in plaster.

A word of caution, do be careful, if you push it too hard and damage it again you could be knackered. Good luck.

haworthjim on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Trevor Langhorne: Thanks Trevor for your experience. Can't believe you climbed as soon as you had the pot off-you mad head) I don't feel brave enough picking up a mug of tea with it yet!
Thanks again
bedsforsleepypeople - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim: Just done the same thing in cast for 6 weeks. cast off on xmas eve and started just using it as normal, if it hurt i stopped. Still don't feel like i can climb. Physio gave me different exercises to hospital though and in just a week it feels stronger all ready. As said above each to their own for recover times. Physio said another month before trying to climb, making it about six week total from when cast came off. He did say use it as normal, the more exercises the quicker the recovery. Good luck
haworthjim on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to bedsforsleepypeople: Thanks for that. Just a quick question to you both- the hospital gave me a Velcro splint to wear for the next for weeks. Did you have one and did you bother with? I do wear it whilst I'm out walking ect just in case I fall but I think it will hinder mobility so don't wear it.
bedsforsleepypeople - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim: No splint for me. Doc said bone has healed so just to get on with.
wilsers on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim:

Broke mine when I was a teenager (a long time ago). Did what the doc said and had the physio, never had a problem since.

My teenage son broke his last year, wore the splint and did the physio (religiously) - is now climbing regular with no problems.

A friend broke his many years ago - didn't get it properly sorted and is now waiting on an operation for a replacement joint (steel thumb).

My advice is to wear the splint and do the physio then take it easy getting back into your climbing by building up gradually. Achy pain is fine, sharp pain is not.

haworthjim on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to wilsers:thanks for your experience and advise splint going back on. No physio arranged by the hospital but will be seeing my physio for sure.
haworthjim on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to bedsforsleepypeople: By the way good luck with your rehab too.
gethin_allen on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim:
I came off my bike in mid September and got a "tuberosity" of the scaphoid (s break of the knuckle type bit at the end closest the thumb, which happens to be where the blood supply is so in theory it heels faster than a break in the middle of the bone like I had back in 2003.
After the old injury I had a cast for 8 weeks ish then used a strap/splint thing for a while when cycling. I got back to cycling and before I had the recent break was climbing fine but it would still ache if I did a load of press-ups on a flat surface even 9 years after, and from the xrays I had for the recent break I am certain it was fixed.

Following the recent break I was in cast for a month then wore a splint for a few weeks. It really aches sometimes and I'm considering going back for a second opinion to make sure it is fixed.
I have yet to climb on it and even just using a metolius grip saver makes it ache.
haworthjim on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to gethin_allen: Probably worth that second opinion- good luck.
happy_c - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim: I broke mine a few years ago, the doctor at the time was thinking it may need pins etc but i got away ok, not sure how long the cast was on, but it was more than 8 weeks i think! the stiffness does go but just remember its not moved in a while! Saying that i kept riding with the cast on, including some pretty silly drops we had made ......

the only thing i get now is stiffness in the cold, more so in that wrist than anywhere else, i can only presume thats the injury but may just be coincedence! Only thing I can add with recovery is do as your told, theres no harm in that, you do too much, and then need surgery pins and replacemens, these things may stop/limit you for the rest of your life! (do as i say not as i do and all that ...... ;) )
haworthjim on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to happy_c: The only riding I've been doing is on the turbo! I must be lightweight cos the thought of dropping off something makes me feel a little sick.
happy_c - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim: the week after the cast came of, i went riding at the local dirt track, and fecked up on a double, missed the landing altogether and i instinctevely tucked the bad wrist in, and pretty much face planted with a bit of support of left wrist, and still to this day if i trip over, i dont put that hand down!

I was 15 at the time, and tbh never thought it all through! If it happened now, i would take it very easy!
Mr Powly - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim:

I broke mine right near the bottom end, furthest from the blood supply. Went untreated at the time and only diagnosed later, but I'm told there would be more risk of damage from surgery than from the non-union at present, so leaving it as it is for now. I have lost some mobility and it hurts sometimes. I miss my working hand.
Alun - on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim:
I broke mine about 10 or so years ago, pins, full operation etc.. I was told that I would lose 50% mobility.

I refused to accept that and so my recover tactic once out of plaster was to regularly make a 'preying' shape with my hands and gently (but painfully) push both my wrists back simultaneously. Then pretty much constant movement, rotation etc. I never had any physio.

It took a while and the wrist ached literally for a couple of years afterwards, but I reckon I have only lost about 1-2% mobility in total. Long term it hasn't affected my climbing or biking, and I have completely forgotten about it.

Just checked your profile and looks like you're 20 years old than I was when I broke mine. So it may take a little longer for your body to recover. But I expect you'll be able to weight it gently in a few months, then after that its a matter of building up strength and mobility. Good luck!
jayjackson - on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim:
Broke mine in 2005 after a largish groundfall.

A&E Doctor at the time said he saw 5-10 scaphoid breaks per week, and that usually healing was easy, but very slow due to small blood supply to this particular bone.

As it turned out, mine was the exception, and I was in plaster for 9 months after some rather exciting surgery involving the rebuilding and pinning of the bone and a marrow graft from my forearm, but at least I didn't need the joint fusing.

Follow your Dr's and Physio's instructions religiously and take things easy to begin with. Definitely don't feel bad asking for a second opinion if you are concerned...

Best of luck with your recovery.
Cappa on 15 Jan 2013 - whois?
In reply to haworthjim:
Having done something similar playing Rugby, i would advise completing the physio course and any exercises/stretches given. Mine healed up fine and was back to its fully mobile self a few weeks after the cast come off. I was young though.

I would also say it may be worth using some Zinc Oxide tape to strap it up when involved high force activities (biking etc) until you feel more confident in its strength.

Andy Hardy on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim:

Did mine 15 years ago, as I recall my rehab consisted of going 10 pin bowling the weekend after the pot came off (I only had it on for 6 weeks though). It seemed to loosen things up a treat.
Mike-W-99 on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to 999thAndy:
I did mine about 15 years ago too. Working abroad without insurance and needing to keep working I fixed it with beer and painkillers for a few weeks.

I was fortunate in that it healed properly but it makes horrendous noises when I'm belaying nowadays.

HappyTrundler - on 16 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim:

I broke my scaphoid in both wrists playing rugby (not at the same time) made a full recovery, no probs, just keep flexing, not too hard, six times, six times a day, it will ease up and flexibility will return...
mikekeswick - on 16 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim: I broke my scaphoid and ended up with avascular necoris.....10 years ago the surgeon told me that the only other thing they could do was to fuse my wrist....err no thanks I said and here I am still using it and can do one armer's and climb English 6b/c with it no bother. Sure if I fall on it, enough to sprain a healthy wrist, then it breaks but hey you learn to live with these things!
JoshOvki on 16 Jan 2013
In reply to haworthjim:

Broke my scaphoid into 4 pieces, was in a cast for 3 months. Climbed not long after the cast came off (may have been less than a week after), but stopped if it started to hurt at all. Entered a student bouldering comp while still wearing the split, hurt lots the next day but more ache than sharp pain. If you get any sharp pain stop what you are doing.
ti_pin_man - on 16 Jan 2013
I think you'll know yourself when its ready to climb

go gentle at first, light easy sessions, because afterwards it will hurt

I broke and dislocated mine mountain biking, the bone sticking out made a mate pass out ;) I had a caste on for 10 weeks and have a herbert titanium screw in my wrist, hence the forum name. Whilst in the caste I was turbo training to keep fitness but not with any pressure on the wrist. As soon as the caste came off I held the bars and it sure did hurt initially, probably for 3 weeks or there abouts and then I went road biking gently. Mountain biking came back a month later.

I think going back to climbing would be about the same timeline. Just take it easy at first and feel your way back to it. Your wrist will tell you when its ready.

And do the physio, it helps.
Cruty Rammers - on 16 Jan 2013
All good advice on here. Did mine snowboarding, 3 months in a cast, then wore the splint for a bit, exersising it and gradually phasing the splint out. Can't remember how long it took before it was fully better, but it's fine now (a few years later). As others say, your body is the best guide - if it hurts, stop.
In reply to haworthjim: Hi Jim,

I broke mine and the Pisiform at the same time. Quite badly. I had mine in plaster for 10 weeks. I continued climbing quite a lot with my cast on and also squeezed a rubber ball all the time.

I took the cast off myself after 10 weeks as I had to work, so I used a support-brace with a metal rod insert for around another 4 weeks on and off.

The worst point was the first week with the cast off. Arm was very weak. It got a lot better very quickly.

Now, 8 years on, my wrist is 98% fine. I have full movement, and only feel it in exceptionally strange twisting undercut moves.

It took 2 years to get to around 95% strength/movement.

That's not advice, just a run down of my experience.

Good luck.



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