Climbing finger injuries are a frequent occurrence and often involve the A2 pulley, which is a group of fibres that form a tunnel for the tendons to travel through. The pulley functions to keep the tendons close to the bone, and stop them bowstringing away. The A2 pulley is located in the mid section of each finger, and is the one that is most prone to injury in climbers because it takes a lot of force through it.
The injury can occur either as an acute incident, such as a slip while crimping, or a build up of repetitive activity over time. In acute cases the climber may feel immediate pain and experience localised swelling in the region. In cases of a gradual build up, the pain may build from a slight feeling of discomfort and progress to be more painful over time.
Symptoms in this type of injury include pain and swelling at the base of the finger, and bowstringing, as the tendon fails to be held against the bone. If bowstringing occurs a full rupture may have occurred. The strength of the finger is normally unaffected, unless there has been a rupture of the tendons.
Treatment of a finger pulley depends largely on the severity of the injury. A surgical repair is often advised following a complete pulley rupture. You may need a scan to determine whether this has occurred or not. More mild sprains will normally heal with conservative management.
Physiotherapy treatment will normally include RICE in the initial stages (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), eccentric strengthening exercises, activity advice and taping.