|By Patrick Manitou
From Atlanta, GAAAAA
Jul 27, 2012
Just met with a great physical therapist who does a lot of work with climbers (she's one herself), and this stumped her a bit.
Some background- I work full time as a route setter, and climb a ton on the weekends. I don't ever get a true rest period that's longer than a couple days. About two years ago I injured the pulley in my left ring finger, and have occasional bouts of elbow pain (both inside and outside) that I usually climb through and work on antagonistic exercises until it goes away.
About two months ago I was working a couple very fingery boulder problems (sent my hardest project to date!), and felt no pain at the time. That week, while climbing and setting, I noticed pain in my left hand, mostly in the fingers, when I'd curl/squeeze my fingers, or pull on certain holds (mostly closed handed stuff). The really strange part is that the pain would also happen when I woke up in the morning, and go away in about half an hour. At its worst it was in both hands and most of my fingers, but definitely the worst in my left and on the ring/middle/pinky fingers.
The pain is mostly dull (although it sharp when I was still climbing and tried to use my fingers), and my fingers feel stiff. It's not in the knuckles, but the "meat" of the finger, on the bottom and sides, mostly in the intermediate segment (i.e. not the first pad, but the second pad). It's much worse in the mornings if I've climbed the day before, or even moved heavy stuff, but I feel it pretty much every morning. Also, I feel some pain/tightness occasionally in my forearm near the wrist, where the tendons run. I stopped climbing (as much as possible and still make a living as a setter) the week it started, but two months later, it's still just as bad. Finally quit setting altogether two weeks ago, but it's still bad.
My PT's first guess is that my very bad climber's posture is cutting off blood, pinching nerves, and limiting tendon movement. She said she hasn't really seen anything like this, but she's checking with a hand specialist. Figured it might not hurt to ask you guys as well.
Edit: I should point out that finger pain in the morning isn't unheard of, but that seems to be mostly in the joints, not the underside where I'm feeling it.