Login with Facebook
 ADVANCED
My biceps have been killing me for 2 years, and doctors are baffled at the symptoms.
View Latest Posts in This Forum or All Forums
   Page 1 of 2.  1  2   Next>   Last>>
Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
 
 
By Reedrombo
From Nationwide Dirtbag
Feb 23, 2012

So I have a recurring issue with my biceps and climbing. Two years ago my right bicep would go numb immediately after a climb. It would become so numb that I couldn't lift my arm to untie the knot. After a few minutes it would still be numb-ish, but it would be functional at least. I was told it was tendonitis of the lower end of my bicep where it attaches to the anterior portion of my elbow. This person said "do pushups before and after climbing" it appeared to work...kinda. It still hurt a little, but ultimately after my summer of too much work and not enough climbing rid me of the whole rigamarole.

Anyways, it's been a chronic issue on and off for 2 years now, in both arms. My general practitioner has no idea what's causing it or what to do about it. I've been in and out of physical therapy. I was put on prednisone, a steroid regiment. Nothing has helped it always comes back. I do push ups, pectoral dips, and tricep dips to counter all climbing motions, I'm a regular to crossfit and feel that I never favor a certain part of my body. Anybody else ever experienced this?

A little more description of the pain: The epicenter of the pain/numbness is on the inside of my bicep, lower down my arm close to the anterior area of the elbow. The feeling radiates up and out sprawling across my bicep and lessening the farther it gets away from the epicenter. As it gets worse it becomes movement hindering and more numb. In the end it can be breath takingly painful (almost passed out a few times last year with the right bicep). It also radiates down my forearms about 2 inches or so. When the pain gets really bad it takes over my whole arm. Sometimes the pain goes away in a few minutes, but more often than not it sticks around for 30 minutes to an hour.


One other fun fact, I used to be a damn good pitcher back in the day, and now if I throw ANYTHING it immediately hurts.

Any ideas from the people more educated than myself?


FLAG
By Buff Johnson
Feb 23, 2012
smiley face

Have you gotten an mri done? Other thought would be to have your primary get you referred to a specialist.


FLAG
By Peter Pitocchi
Feb 23, 2012
Pete belays 2nd pitch Little corner

You probably have thoracic outlet syndrome...google it. I would recommend seeing an orthopedist with an interest in this disorder.


FLAG
By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Feb 23, 2012
Stoked...

I instantly thought of Nerve pinch too... could be in ur neck or even in your spine... I'm not a dr but I played one on TV!


FLAG
By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Feb 23, 2012

I second the idea of seeing an orthopedist. A general practitioner or family practice doctor is not the specialty you need. Asking for medical advice on MP, well, not a good idea...


FLAG
By Mike Smyth
From Spartanburg, SC
Feb 23, 2012
Stick clips can be very handy in this area to keep it a little safer

I am more of the alternative approach if possible. Arm issues like that can commonly come from nerves being pinched or irritated from the neck. My first angle of attack would be to get some chiropractic care and see if cleaning up the alignment relieves the symptoms. Massage by someone who specializes in trigger point release or neuromuscular therapy may also help. I personally had a client of mine that was told to get surgery for a frozen shoulder. We did six sessions over a period of 3 weeks. He called the surgeon back and cancelled the surgery. That was 3 years ago and he didn't have any incident out of it after that. It's worth a shot. Once a surgeon cuts, the body is never the same. bicep issues can come from the neck between the scalene muscles, and also pec entrapment leading to thoracic outlet syndrome as well. Good luck


FLAG
By Pete Spri
Feb 23, 2012

Reedrombo wrote:
So I have a recurring issue with my biceps and climbing. Two years ago my right bicep would go numb immediately after a climb. It would become so numb that I couldn't lift my arm to untie the knot. After a few minutes it would still be numb-ish, but it would be functional at least. I was told it was tendonitis of the lower end of my bicep where it attaches to the anterior portion of my elbow. This person said "do pushups before and after climbing" it appeared to work...kinda. It still hurt a little, but ultimately after my summer of too much work and not enough climbing rid me of the whole rigamarole. Anyways, it's been a chronic issue on and off for 2 years now, in both arms. My general practitioner has no idea what's causing it or what to do about it. I've been in and out of physical therapy. I was put on prednisone, a steroid regiment. Nothing has helped it always comes back. I do push ups, pectoral dips, and tricep dips to counter all climbing motions, I'm a regular to crossfit and feel that I never favor a certain part of my body. Anybody else ever experienced this? A little more description of the pain: The epicenter of the pain/numbness is on the inside of my bicep, lower down my arm close to the anterior area of the elbow. The feeling radiates up and out sprawling across my bicep and lessening the farther it gets away from the epicenter. As it gets worse it becomes movement hindering and more numb. In the end it can be breath takingly painful (almost passed out a few times last year with the right bicep). It also radiates down my forearms about 2 inches or so. When the pain gets really bad it takes over my whole arm. Sometimes the pain goes away in a few minutes, but more often than not it sticks around for 30 minutes to an hour. One other fun fact, I used to be a damn good pitcher back in the day, and now if I throw ANYTHING it immediately hurts. Any ideas from the people more educated than myself?

If you are getting numbness in your arm, it means that your nerve is getting pinched somewhere. It could be at your neck where the nerve root exits the spine, or could be getting compressed by a muscle somewhere in between the spine and the bicept.

I'd highly recommend your visit a neurophysician or an orthopedist. Or both. I'm sure they would start with Physical Therapy and modalities before touching you with a knife.


FLAG
By BirdDog
From Seattle, WA
Feb 23, 2012
Mt. Baker

Even with the condition is in both arms, it's possible it's an individual "arm thing" manifesting in both arms simultaneously; or could be a spinal condition - possibly spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal nerve canal), or a pinched nerve. Try to have it looked at by a nurologist specializing in neck/back isssues. Disclaimer: I'm a dumb climber not a doc. Best of luck.


FLAG
By wankel7
From Indiana
Feb 24, 2012

Time to stop wasting your time and money with the GP and see a specialist.


FLAG
By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Feb 24, 2012

I had similar symptoms for a while when I had bad allergies. I would have these really bad sneezes and afterward it felt like the inside of my arm just got wacked with a two by four and would lose all strength in my hands. Eventually I got over the allergies. But my guess was that the muscle contractions of sneezing pinched some nerves somewhere and maybe the muscle contractions of climbing are doing the same to you.

For the record an Internet search for my condition found a few hundred people with the exact same problems. None of them or their doctors knew the cause.


FLAG
By lucander
From Stone Ridge, NY
Feb 24, 2012
Lucander off the GT Ledge on p. 2 of Keep on Struttin.

Sounds like an old problem I used to have. Clarify: does pain spread down to your upper forearm, too?


FLAG
By ERolls
From Custer, SD
Feb 24, 2012
Devils Tower Summit

I too am no doctor, but if I was having symptoms like you describe I would go to a reputable chiropractor. I know, a lot of people think chiros are quacks and rip offs but... I know people who have had chronic abdominal pain or migraines cured by a chiropractor when no amount of testing or drugs produced any positive results. I myself had a reoccurring neck cramp for years that left me walking crooked until I saw a chiro a couple of times. Never had the problem again. It's a cheap noninvasive alternative to what the medical community can offer. I used to think chiros were only for bad backs but you would be amazed at how good you feel when your skeletal and nervous systems are all "straightened out". YMMV

-E


FLAG
By David Rivers
Feb 26, 2012
East Beach bouldering

I second seeking out a massage therapist trained/knowledgeable in trigger point therapy. There is a book, "The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook", by Clair Davies that can help you help speed your recovery, if your problem is indeed trigger points. Every citizen athlete could use this book to help increase the effectiveness of whatever other modalities one uses for chronic aches and pains.


FLAG
By Reedrombo
From Nationwide Dirtbag
Feb 27, 2012

Lucander:

Yes, it spreads down to about 2 or 3 inches of the upper forearm


FLAG
By Jeff Ludwig
From phoenix, Az
Feb 27, 2012

I'm not a doctor but I second the opinion that it could be thoracic outlet syndrome. This occures when nerves and blood vessels become pinched between the clavicle and the first rib. There are three different types of TOS, neurogenic and venous arterial and cominations of each. Pain and numbness are the symptoms and with your history of piching it is plausible this could be the cause. Athletes and wieghtlifters are more susceptible to TOS.


FLAG
By Mike Howard
Administrator
Feb 27, 2012
RGG silhouette

Peter Pitocchi and Jeff Ludwig wrote:
...thoracic outlet syndrome..


Nailed it, perhaps. Please ask your primary doctor to refer you to a sports orthopedist that is a shoulder specialist. They will likely order an MRI looking for a surgically amenable diagnosis (cervical rib compression, etc) but hopefully you will not have one. Most climbers over develop the pulling musculature, round their shoulders and get kyphotic. If you have a longish neck and low slung shoulders, this increases your risk. Take a look at the anatomy (TOS) , YouTube and Ortho sites . You can develop any syndrome of pain or numbness depending on your anatomy and where the compression occurs on the cervical/brachial plexus. Oftentimes, physical therapy can help you overcome this by working to balance your anatomy. I know of no peer reviewed literature for chiropractry, trigger points, supplements... Whatever the result, try to avoid surgery until you try the noninvasive treatments. Avoid steroids or opiods unless you are constantly in significant pain. Any surgeon will want to do surgery: "a chance to cut is a chance to cure" or "never let the skin get between you an a diagnosis" but waiting is ok as long as you are not losing muscle strength or feeling. Best of Luck. (this is free advice and is worth just that, nothing, not a legally binding relationship)


FLAG
By JamesMichelinie
Feb 27, 2012

So... just to clarify. Your doctor, who went to medical school and has seen you in person, can't figure it out. Now you think someone on the internet with no medical degree, interest in you, or clinical data will have an answer. Does this sound crazy when you say it out loud?


FLAG
By lucander
From Stone Ridge, NY
Mar 1, 2012
Lucander off the GT Ledge on p. 2 of Keep on Struttin.

I had that problem, got so bad I couldn't grab gear or draws off my harness. Like you, I used to do a lot of silly boy stuff (sports & weights). Problems were at their apex in 2005ish, I'm doing a lot better now.

Here's how I treated it, no promises it will work:

1. More time off, let soft tissue repair. I was climbing 200+ days a year back then. Also, get a winter hobby - I find taking 4-6 weeks off to xc ski and mountaineer a lot of fun.

2. If it hurts, stop. Have beer or belay your buds, enjoy being out. If on a trip, it's a sign your body needs rest. Take a short hike, visit a lake.

3. Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM - 2-3 times a day. SAMe is popular, but spendy.

4. Light (2lbs or less) weights. Palm down, slowly rotate our wrist up. High reps, 20-40. Boring, don't know if it helped, but I'm all better.

5. Climb with your girl. Less than vertical and slab is challenging, demanding, and fun.

6. Climb easy. Take out old friends for a moderate multipitch and focus on not grabbing holds, use your feet.

7. I still get really light flare-ups 2-4 times a year from climbing, baseball, frisbee, or construction. Just take a few days off.


FLAG
By christianbern
Feb 25, 2013

Hi. I have had the exact same symptons in both arms. I got my pain from a combination of bouldering and sailing. I also talked to specialized doctors and therapist, and they all gave me theories and all kinds of exercises I should do, but no one could give me an answer of what was wrong. In the end the only thing that helped was rest, stop doing push ups and other arm exercises, complete rest of arms. My right arm is completely pain free, sometimes I feel something in my left, specially after long bouldering days outdoor, then I rest until I am pain free. When the pain was at it worst I took a month away from bouldering and then another month only bouldering once a week no more than 1,5 to 2 hours. After that I climbed normal but short and effective sessions and always stopped before exhaustion. I never do push ups or dips, just some stretching after I have been running.

This helps and now it's fun to boulder again. I think that some of us are just prone to injury and it's not like u can do some exercise or lift weights in a special way to get rid of it. So rest good (I did a lot of running), and u will see being pain free makes u a happy climber! Good luck. Regards from Oslo.


FLAG
By Just Solo
From Colorado Springs
Feb 25, 2013

Crossfit... Don't get me started. As others have mentioned look into TOS. Also, look into a locked 1st rib. Numbness is one of two things or both... nerve, or circulatory. Both of which are effected by TOS. Most of the movements you do in crossfit will only aggravate the situation. Not suggesting you totally quit training, but start to watch overhead movements. Do more unilaterally (lessens the cross load of the upper trunk) and see how it goes. Conditions like this take a long time to work through. Good luck.


FLAG
By Blake Cash
Feb 25, 2013

5. Climb with your girl. Less than vertical and slab is challenging, demanding, and fun.

What if "your girl" climbs hard, bouldery, steep routes? What then? Kind of an odd way to view women climbers still...


FLAG
By dain charette
From South Lake
Feb 25, 2013

I have had this type of pain before from bouldering to many days on, couple questions:
Do you stretch your biceps? I found that stretching them helped a lot.

Does it hurt when you move your arm from a straight to locked position while squeezing a rubber donut or squeezing a fist?
Try hammer curls, I found that my biceps were strong but my brachialis (the muscle that helps lock your arm: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brachialis_muscle)was really weak and that was causing a lot of issues.

Last, do you any shoulder exercises (press or like an earlier post mentioned, doing rotating motions with low weight?) I dislocated my shoulder a few years ago and found that my shoulder was really weak. This forced my lower arm to overcompensate, creating a lot of aggravation.

Just my two cents, but I am pain free if I stay on top of the maintenance exercises. If not the pain will come right back.

Hope this helps and good luck.


FLAG
By Reedrombo
From Nationwide Dirtbag
Feb 25, 2013

So it's been a while since I posted this and since I've partially solved the issue. Before I was climbing 5 days a week, and was projecting every time plus training etc. So I started scheduling moderate days where I wouldn't climb above 5.10.

I would only project one day a week and that started making a difference. But, what made the biggest difference was I stopped training on rings.

Before I was training on rings three times a week. So, I just cut rings out and only do them 4 or 5 times a month now. Made all the difference in the world. I think it was just too much of a strain on my arms to be climbing hard, doing lots of pull ups, and training on rings.

Thanks for all the help, I still get pain occasionally if I push it too hard for a bit but I have it under control enough now to be able to take a few days off and it goes away.

Hopefully this helps someone else out with similar issues.


FLAG
By Just Solo
From Colorado Springs
Feb 25, 2013

Reedrombo wrote:
So it's been a while since I posted this and since I've partially solved the issue. Before I was climbing 5 days a week, and was projecting every time plus training etc. So I started scheduling moderate days where I wouldn't climb above 5.10. I would only project one day a week and that started making a difference. But, what made the biggest difference was I stopped training on rings. Before I was training on rings three times a week. So, I just cut rings out and only do them 4 or 5 times a month now. Made all the difference in the world. I think it was just too much of a strain on my arms to be climbing hard, doing lots of pull ups, and training on rings. Thanks for all the help, I still get pain occasionally if I push it too hard for a bit but I have it under control enough now to be able to take a few days off and it goes away. Hopefully this helps someone else out with similar issues.


Yep, sounds distinctively like over training. Easy to do. BTW if you do have symptoms of TOS, rings are not a great option. But it sounds like you are on the right path.


FLAG
By William Domhart
From Ventucky, CA
Feb 25, 2013
Traverse by HWY 41 Cave

I've had the same thing that you were having and I found that it was from over exertion. I was doing a lot of the same things that you were doing and I couldn't figure out what it was. I eventually just dialed it back a bit and listened to my body. Goodluck.


FLAG
By Greg G
From SLC, UT
Feb 25, 2013
The route in it's entirety.

well now that this is all finished up I'd just like to add this last bit of information.

Quit bouldering Reed :)

p.s. - we're friends!


FLAG


Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
Page 1 of 2.  1  2   Next>   Last>>