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Reducing finger joint inflammation ?
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Jan 21, 2008, 9:10 PM
Post #1 of 6 (13754 views)

Registered: Jun 11, 2003
Posts: 151

Reducing finger joint inflammation ?
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I have my 2 fingers (middle and ring finger) of both hand that are inflammated at the proximal inter-phalangeal joint. On the picture you can see in red the joints of 2 fingers, The width of both joint are larger than the width of the finger.

The image below is to show which joint I am talking

Before each session, I warm up my finger by doing some stretch. Then slowly I climb 2 or 3 easy routes (5.7- 5.8) then some medium (5.9-5.10a/b) then finally the harder climb (over 5.10c and +).
And after climbing, I stretch again my finger and massage them, specially the joints.
I usually climb 2 days a week, with at least 1 day rest between sessions.

I'd like to known if someone else had the same problem and how he manage to reduce the inflammation ?

Thanks for help

(This post was edited by waltereo on Jan 23, 2008, 7:32 PM)


Jan 22, 2008, 12:15 AM
Post #2 of 6 (13701 views)

Registered: Nov 17, 2006
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Re: [waltereo] Reducing finger joint inflammation ? [In reply to]
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I have almost the same thing on the middle finger on the left hand and ring finger of the right. Both injuries can be traced to bouldering on plastic. I went to see and hand specialist and X rays revealed some arthritis in the middle finger and a volar plate injury (ligament tears part of the bone) on the ring finger. Climbers often grow more bone in the joint areas to counteract tendon and ligament growth as the result of climbing and consequently climbers often have bigger than average knuckles

I was then sent to physical therapy, which I doubted would help much, but some simple hand/finger flexion workouts seem to have made a difference. I have had good luck using heat as well. I have a gel pack I that I pop in the microwave to warm up my hands and then I do the exercises twice a day. I also have some arnica gel for reducing pain that I massage into the joint. The physical therapist also gave me these little finger sox things that are constricting to wear at night to the reduce swelling. Not sure about the effectiveness of those.

I have been doing just the rehabilitation for 2 weeks (no climbing) and have noticed a slight reduction in swelling and less pain in both fingers. I still have point tenderness especially in the middle finger. I think using heat to get the blood flowing through the joint and “pushing out” the fluid in the finger is key

I have been climbing 5.12 for over 20 years and part of it is just the years of abuse my fingers have endured. I think your slow warm up method before climbing harder is good. But you might want to stop climbing completely and try and rehab it and I would (if you have not already) have doctor check it.

Scottish pro-climber Dave Mcloed has an interesting treatment method for a pulley injury, but it would work for any injury. He puts his hand in cold water (not ice water) to stimulate the blood flow.


Jan 22, 2008, 4:28 AM
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Registered: Jan 26, 2003
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Re: [waltereo] Reducing finger joint inflammation ? [In reply to]
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I have the same issue on the middle fingers. The one on the right has also sprouted a pesky cyst that combined with the inflammation drove me to a hand specialist. An xray showed some minor beginning arthritis but the culprit is a small bone spur. After 36 years of beating my fingers I was actually surprised there wasn't more arthritis but at any rate I'm scheduled for surgery next Monday to lose the spur and cyst and a well deserved 2-3 week mid winter rest from climbing. Until the cyst caused even more swelling I did get some relief from cutting the end off a finger condom and sliding it up to add some compression on the affected joint while climbing anything crimpy or that involved jamming/camming the fingers.

(This post was edited by rockrat512 on Jan 22, 2008, 4:32 AM)


Jan 22, 2008, 11:05 AM
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Re: [waltereo] Reducing finger joint inflammation ? [In reply to]
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Hi Walter...

Nice picturesUnsure

The answer to your question is:


In addition, chemical anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS like ibuprofen 800 mg 3x daily for several days, with food) can help. Next step is steroid injections.

But, your fingers are undergoing a natural response to the forces you are placing upon them. Inflammation is a chemical signal to your body to send repair cells, called fibroblasts, to the area, to lay down scar tissue. From a survival standpoint, this will stabilize the joint. from a climbing standpoint, you will lose motion and eventually, function.

The definition of arthritis is " inflammation of a joint". You have arthritis, and you are damaging the only finger joints you will ever have.

My advice is to back off. But I make it a point to not tell people what to do. I can only advise.

Also, If those were my fingers, I would stop stretching. That will decrease joint stability, and increase the time to when a safer return to climbing can be made (in my professional opinion, without citing appropriate literature).


Jan 22, 2008, 11:25 AM
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Registered: Dec 26, 2006
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Re: [waltereo] Reducing finger joint inflammation ? [In reply to]
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A quick tip for when you have solved the current problem:
Warm up thouroughly first, then stretch. Cold joints, tendons and ligaments do not respond well to stretching. When I get the book back which was written by the doctor who ministers to the british climbing team and various other top flight athletes I will post the full details on this thread (I think its called Training for Climbing, and the author may be called Ballard{or not}. Will post asap.


Jan 27, 2008, 12:11 PM
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Registered: Jul 26, 2002
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Re: [waltereo] Reducing finger joint inflammation ? [In reply to]
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All of the above is good advice, but (imho) missing the key. Seems like every several months this exact thread pops up, and I've typed this same response several times - you'd think I'd learn to save it.

Take glucosamine, chondroiton, MSM supplement. Don't get just the glucosamine chondroiton - pay the extra few bucks for the MSM. You can get them at most CVSs, GNCs or any pharmacy or vitamin shop - even walmarts.

I forget what each supplement is supposed to do, but I heard it's something like one reduces inflamation, one lubricates the joint, and one is a pain reducer and helps absorption of the other two. Don't know. What I do know is that many moons ago I thought my time as a climber was up when I bouldered hard outdoors for a day, then got bored that night and had a stupidly hard indoor session. I'd had knuckle problems before, but not too bad. After this session my knuckles swelled up overnight so badly I couldn't clench a fist or even grab the doorknob with enough force to twist it. So, I did my howework, started taking that stuff, and a month later I went to the Valley for a month and fingerlocked my life away without a single problem. Also, at various times over the years I've stopped taking the supplement, due to laziness, no money, etc. and after a while the knuckle problems always return. Maybe it's placebo effect, but I highly highly doubt it - I've heard other climbers say the same thing, and runners have used it for ages for help in their knees. Doctors recomend it to old people for arthritis (my grandfather, for instance, and he swears by it). Do yourself a favor and start taking this stuff instantly.


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