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Injuries and Medical Advice

Major Finger Pain

Bulging discs, tingling fingers. What gives? How many injuries does this guy have?

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Illustration by Steve GraepelFor the past few months, I have had pain on the posterior aspect of the PIP joint of my ring finger. I usually just tape it and it’s fine. However, after climbing at the gym last week, I noticed pain at the junction of my finger and palm. It hurts across all fingers with pressure. I have also experienced some tingling in my pec to antecubital area, the posterior humerus, anterior forearm, anterior wrist and palm. The tingling happens on and off. What gives? Do I have two injuries, a pulley and carpel tunnel? I have decided to take a few weeks off, but would appreciate any advice. I know the median nerve can be impinged at many places, so I will tell you that I have some protruding discs at C5/C6.

—EILAH23/Rock and Ice Forum

Finger pain can be related tonerve-root pressure in the neck, but usually with pain all the way down
your arm, and if it gets to your fingers you’ll find yourself in a world of hellfire that even the Creationists couldn’t imagine. Therefore I suspect
your finger pain is related to something local.

The pain on the front of your fingers at the base is probably A2-pulley related. My guess is that you have either upped the ante with training or you are
relatively new to climbing and the pulleys are not coping. As one of Australia’s ex-prime ministers once said in relation to an imminent terrorist
attack: “Be alert, not alarmed.” Brilliant(ly stupid).

In this instance, however, it is actually a good axiom. Your pulleys are pissed off. Ease back until they calm down. If they start to hurt when you’re
climbing, as opposed to with direct pressure, then you need to back off even further. Or go skiing for a month. I prefer to work on my shagging, but
two kids are making that more difficult, so instead I’ve been buying power tools.

The pain on the posterior aspect of your PIP joint is more difficult to diagnose without seeing you—could be the joint, could be soft tissue.

Tingling, you say? Sounds like enough tingling to suggest you either own a meth lab or that C5/6 disc bulge you mentioned is wreaking sensory havoc. Carpal
tunnel syndrome will only affect sensation below your wrist.

So, here’s what I’d do—back off on the intensity for a few weeks, then hang it all and go climbing. The loss and sadness of not climbing would outweigh
the pain you are getting from climbing. It’s a no brainer!

Illustration by Steve Graepel.

This article was published in Rock and Ice No. 213 (October 213).