Hey Chris, Almost two years on from the injury now, and I'm stronger than I ever was, but it was a long road to get there.
Ultimately, I ended up getting in touch with Dr. Shoeffl in Germany and sent him a CD-ROM of my MRI results. He noted that I probably have fully ruptured both the A2 and A4, and that I would have been a great candidate for surgery, but since it had already been a few months since the injury at that point, he suggested, as I noted above from Dave MacLeod's book, that I try to rehab first, and if I can't get my strength back, then fly out to Germany and do surgery with him later. So I started a HB rehab protocol as per folks' suggestions in the above posts. It took probably four months to start feeling even moderately strong on the HB. I did a bit of climbing outside that season (this was late spring '17), but was hideously weak. When I jumped back into training last summer for the fall season, it started to really come back together, and last fall I did some very solid hangboarding. Then had a good season last fall, too, though was still just a bit hesitant on any nasty crimps.
The only long-term side-effects have been: (1) I have some very minor flexion contracture in the finger, but not anything that affects my day-to-day or climbing; (2) I can't hyperextend the DIP joint even slightly... so my left hand crimp is three fingers fully crimped and my ring finger just hanging in there half crimped, but it still works; and (3) my finger REALLY aches if I start crimping hard too soon in my session. This last one is particularly tricky outside, and usually just ends up meaning that my first burn on a hard crimp route is just going to be to get past that final level of warmup for my finger before really being able to give a super hard go.
So that's it! Hoping to send some mid-13s this fall and resume my loooong, slow march to 5.14 before I'm 50! The girls are getting older so getting out a bit more frequently is starting to be easier, which I'm downright giddy about...
Great! Thanks for the update. Glad things are going well for you. We're in the stage where it's a little harder to get out. The youngest two are 2 1/2 and 9 months, so if I want to get any serious climbing done, I have to go solo. In the spring, I was going out by myself in the morning and searching for a belayer and bringing the family out in the evening when I was done. The oldest two are mostly fine, until they get tired...
Was going to make a new post but this question seemed to dovetail nicely here.
Injury recovery timelines... I hurt an A4 pulley tendon back in December (unsure if it was full or partial rupture, but since it's an A4 it can't be more severe than a "Grade 2" on the pulley injury scale). I've followed all the best available treatment advice I've been able to find very closely (i.e. theclimbingdoctor.com/pulley-injuries-explained-part-2/), and recovery has proceeded quite well. I'm back to full on hangboard training and am getting fairly close (within 5-20 lbs depending on the grip) to matching (and hopefully then exceeding) my repeater and max hang PRs. Looking through this forum I'm realizing I've probably actually pushed the hangboarding a lot harder than perhaps was advisable, and might take a de-load week or two before jumping back in.
All this said, it's been around 14 weeks now and crimping is still definitely a no-go outside. Went back to some crimpy climbs I've done/projected today and it was very discouraging how much harder they felt. Most of the material I can find suggests that after around 12 weeks you should be close to fully recovered for a grade 2 injury and that just doesn't seem to be the case, either for me or for many of the posters I've seen in here. For those of you who have rehabbed pulley injuries before, what was your timeline for truly complete recovery, i.e. being able to crimp without pain/worry again?
And in that vein, do injured tendons ever fully heal back to their original strength, or is there always some weakness due to scar tissue etc.? If there is in fact a full rupture, what does recovery actually consist of...? Does the tendon somehow reconnect or is it just gone?
Inspirational stories of coming back stronger than ever post finger injury also welcome (:
Thanks for the responses folks. I don't know why most of the literature including the Schoffl papers (and he seems to be the authority in the field) indicate a 3 month recovery. Perhaps they mean you can climb pain free open handed after that long? Or that the pulley itself has healed from a physiological perspective (i.e. has fully grown back) but may not be at full strength? Eh, either way, I'll adjust my expectations and just keep on keeping on.
I don't know if mine was full or partial, but I suspect it was partial (hopefully that's not just wishful thinking).
Or that the pulley itself has healed from a physiological perspective (i.e. has fully grown back) but may not be at full strength?
I think that theory is probably valid to some extent.
I hear people say they are recovered in 3 months all the time - perhaps that's just that they can climb again, or that they are on the beginner end of climbing and so they are returning to climbing 5.11.
If I did a grade 2 pulley tear, I'd say I'd be back to 5.11 in 3 months, 5.12 would probably take me 6 months, and it would be 9-12 before I'm climbing mostly pain free.
Post by MarkAnderson on Mar 27, 2019 18:26:59 GMT -7
Ya, I find that hard to believe.
Look at it this way: if you’re following a standard RP training approach, and then you took a month off to go surfing, but ended your surfing trip 100% healthy (but “out of shape”), how long would it take you to get back to 100% strong/ready to crush your hardest route?
Darn near 3 months (depending on how long your BF phase is)? So the point is, as people who train intelligently, we have a different idea of what it means to be “back” (ie recovered), and a different idea of what it takes to get there.
If I had an injury, I would spend however many months it took to get into post-surf-trip shape (100% healthy but out of climbing shape), then I would stack another 2-3 months on top of that to get back in peak climbing shape before I would consider trying to climb hard.