Thursday, February 12

Cripple Club

The A2 pulley is the most commonly injured of the five annular pulleys, and you can blame the common crimp grip as the main culprit. In using the crimp grip, near ninety-degree flexion of the middle finger joint produces tremendous force load on the A2 pulley. Injuries to the A2 pulley can range from microscopic to partial tears and, in the worst case, a complete rupture. Small partial tears are generally insidious, because they develop over the course of a few climbs, a few days of climbing, or even gradually during the course of a climbing season. Less frequent are acute ruptures that result during a maximum move on a tiny crimp hold or one-finger pocket. Some climbers report feeling or hearing a “pop”—a likely sign of a significant partial tear, although other injuries could also produce this sound effect.

Depending on the severity of an A2 pulley injury, pain and swelling at the base of the finger can range from slight to so debilitating that you can’t perform everyday tasks like picking up a jug of milk. Slight tears may be asymptomatic when the finger is at rest, but become painful during isometric contraction (as in gripping a hold) or when pressing on the base of the finger near the top of the palm.

Treatment of an A2 pulley injury must begin with completed cessation of climbing and discontinuation of any other activity that requires forceful flexion of the injured finger. Doing anything that causes pain will slow healing of the injured tissue and it may even make the injury worse. Therefore, the intelligent climber will cease climbing at the very moment of the injury so that the healing process may begin and the time frame for healing is most brief. By contrast, the immature dumb climber may try to climb through the injury, which certainly means a slower healing time and perhaps even a worsening of the injury.

While I cried (literally) last night and it still brings tears to my eyes every time i think about how long this recovery period will take (two to ten weeks until no pain with additional two weeks for FULL recovery) I can't help but to be grateful that it is my right index finger and not the middle and ring finger or else I would not be able to climb AT ALL. Of course now it's goodbye to any difficult hand hold and hello to Gripmaster, soft rubber balls and endless sessions of hated PT. And while I did hear the "pop" I am still hoping it was my wrist or something. Meanwhile, I am forming the "Cripple club" with Regina as guest member. We are limited now to doing pull-ups and hangs upstairs (she can do campus board as well, bugger). I will be putting a purple log book under one of the boxes upstairs. Of course, as Regina's ankle will heal soon and hopefully I will also heal, membership is neither desired nor permanent.

As for the "dumb" comment, yes I did try to climb but stopped when Jensen sternly told me to. And yes Doris and Sandra had to pull me off the fingerboard. Thank god i have friends who can kick my ass. And yes I had felt that particular finger to be not so great with a pain that I didn't know before, i.e. not joint pain but rather (i see now) pulley pain. I didn't know what it was, but hell, I DO NOW!!


shuhui said...

i'm gonna miss you by not seeing you tomorrow (:p) but I did a bit of fingerboard just now I feel proud of myself! cos I think I'm getting stronger day by day!

Please rest! but you can still make use of your voicebox and shout at us. :D

Anonymous said...

I am an intelligent climber. Haha. And no fingerboard for you too, sergeant major. Abstinence is good for you. The chinese have a saying. "Resting is so that you can travel further". Don't jeapordise your climbing future by being over-eager.


claudia said...

jensen, shu, thanks and hugs!! resting and not climbing through the pain is very very hard for me to do at this moment but I am seriously trying. See you all on monday!