Forums: Climbing Information: Injury Treatment and Prevention: My Flexor Digitorum Profundus Healing Log: Edit Log


Nov 25, 2010, 12:35 PM

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Registered: Jul 14, 2008
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My Flexor Digitorum Profundus Healing Log
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Hey everyone, I'm more or less a lurker on here, but had my first serious climbing injury back in late October. I've been climbing for almost three years with nothing more than a minor case of elbow tendonitis. What I've written below is the account of my healing process; I'm not making suggestions on how you should treat a flexor injury, and by all means, if you can afford to visit a doctor, you should probably do so.

On the day of my injury I was working on a boulder problem with a dynamic first move to a three finger half pad crimp. After a couple of tries I stuck the hold and immediately felt an "electrical surge" through my left arm coupled with an audible and tangible pop. Obviously, it was a tendon injury. I sat down and stopped climbing for about half an hour and was able to pinpoint the location, the ring finger on my left hand. Any pressure on my fingertip resulted in a surge of pain through my left forearm. I then made the foolish and risky decision to keep climbing on it. (We were bouldering in an area that normally has restricted access, and many of the problems were FA's put up that day). I had very little swelling, but the arm definitely felt weak and there was a dull ache that began almost immediately after the injury.

We came back to the house that night and I began icing and taking Advil. The next day it hurt to even hold a glass of water with my left hand. After some research I concluded my injury was the flexor digitorum profundus, seeing as the pain was most severe when applying pressure to the distal phalanges.

A friend of mine recommended a homeopathic salve that had helped him with a recent shoulder injury. I figured that for $8, it couldn't hurt right? I started using a comfrey salve on Day 2, three times a day, still icing and taking Advil.

I build furniture for a living and was worried about the healing process, seeing as it requires a lot of finger pressure to hold a board steady when pushing it through the table saw or cutting a piece of crown on a miter saw. I tried to baby the finger as much as possible at work, but it was nothing that I was going to take time off of work for.

Day 5: I stopped taking Advil and stopped with the once a day icing, continuing to use the salve three times a day. The swelling seems to have disappeared around day 3 or 4, and normal activities ceased to be painful.

Day 12: I headed the YMCA to work out, focusing on cardio and core conditioning, but even doing some lat pull downs and dead hanging on a pull up bar while doing some leg lifts.

Day 16/17: We had completely stripped our wall at the Y, so I spent the weekend putting up new routes and boulder problems. This left me hanging on holds from time to time up on the wall (but I was grabbing jugs and more or less hanging in my harness). I did however, try a couple of easy boulder problems that I had put up without any pain.

Day 24: Headed to the Red for the weekend (we had made plans for this back in August), originally intending not to climb at all, but only watch. Yeah right... I wound up leading up to 5.10, babying the arm, climbing six pitches throughout the day. I did feel a slight pain on a slopey undercling pinch near the top of a 5.10b, as I concentrated on maintaining body tension while I highstepped on some crappy smears. The pain subsided as soon as I let go of this hold. No pain or soreness the next day.

Day 28: Still using the comfrey salve. I went to the climbing gym, climbed about half a dozen pitches and some easy boulder problems, and then lifted weights. No pain during the workout, although I may have slightly overstressed the arm, seeing as it just felt weak in the following couple of days.

Day 35 (today): Last Thanksgiving I went bouldering on Black Friday. Obviously that will not be happening this year. The couple of times I was able to climb this past month were extremely therapeutic, just getting to engage in climbing movement felt amazing! However, It would be wonderful to be cranking at full force in a few months, so I'm going to back off on climbing, sticking with the core and weightlifting workouts for now.


(This post was edited by chalkhamster on Nov 25, 2010, 4:03 PM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by chalkhamster () on Nov 25, 2010, 4:03 PM

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