My climbing injury

My left index finger, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.
On Monday I visited the hand clinic at Balgrist, just a few minute’s walk from my home in Zollikon. There I saw Dr. Schweizer, who examined my finger and came to the same diagnosis that I had suspected: partial rupture of the left collateral ligament of the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint of my left index finger. This ligament is the main thing that prevents the finger from bending sideways toward the thumb, so it’s pretty important.

In the upper radiograph, above, the damaged ligament would appear just above the joint in the center of the photograph. You cannot see it in this picture because soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments do not show up well in x-ray photos. This is a top-down view, so that ligament lies on the left side of my left index finger. I sustained this injury while working on a particularly difficult bouldering problem at Minimum, back in the beginning of August. It happened when I held a crimpy grip with my left hand and rolled the fingers counterclockwise to give myself a bit more reach to the right. With the weight bearing down sideways on my fingers, the collateral ligaments bore more than their usual share of the load.

Dr. Schweizer gave me some little strips to use to affix my index finger to my middle finger, limiting its mobility, and all but eliminating the possibility of oblique forces that might cause further damage to the ligament. Two months of rest are called for, along with daily exercises to maintain and restore the finger’s range of motion.

I may climb, but only if I completely avoid using my left index finger, or if I tape my index and middle fingers together tightly and avoid sideways loads. The prognosis a full recovery in time.

No comments: