Petestack Blog

24 September 2009

Yes, I have arthritic fingers!

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 7:26 pm

Some more trouble with my aching and increasingly strange-looking fingers (see July’s Upside-down post) and I’m thinking maybe it’s time to seek a professional opinion. So I took them to Chris Ellis today, with the result being confirmation of my suspicion that they’re getting arthritic. Probably, given the amount of climbing I’m doing and non-continuous nature of my climbing past, exacerbated (rather than caused) by climbing. And probably also therefore (to quote/paraphrase Chris) ‘involving an element of bad luck’.

So Chris pointed me at some useful material on the web, we discussed the implications and I came home happy enough to have a definite diagnosis ruling out the kinds of other finger injuries that could prove more instantly traumatic when climbing. Because, let’s be quite clear about this, it doesn’t mean no more climbing although it might well affect route choice (think I’m possibly already over-gripping on the kind of steeper, more fingery routes I’m looking to improve on) and how I manage it. And probably isn’t great news long term for either my hobbies or my day job.

That said, you know where I’m heading tonight?

(Clue, two words, something like cl*mb*ng w*ll!)



  1. Peter, try this stuff.

    [2018 admin edit: broken link removed]

    Great for aches and pains. You have probably tried it, but if you haven’t…….


    Comment by Davie Hall — 24 September 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  2. Sorry. It’s the arnica gel I’m on about.

    Comment by Davie Hall — 24 September 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  3. Hi Peter, I’ve been climbing for about 45 years, have developing arthritis around the third joint of most fingers. My coping strategy now is (a)I limit the grade horizons a bit, you don’t need strong fingers until well into most E2’s (say F6b), below this good footwork and a bit of nouse will normally get you there, and this leaves me with more than enough climbs than I will ever complete in my lifetime, and (b)I try to climb regularly (wall in winter) at least every week or so, but without too much emphasis on fingery stuff, so that everything else you need to keep going gets the workout. Over the past couple of years I’ve found this better than the continuous pain/recovery cycle you go through if you try to work your fingers too hard. Best of luck, Andy

    Comment by Andy Cole — 25 September 2009 @ 10:18 am

  4. Hey, Andy, you must have started climbing about the time I was born! But your comments certainly strike a chord, because I’ve always enjoyed delicate, slabby climbing, can still wrap my whole hands round the steep, juggy, indoor 6a and 6a+s, but have been steadily coming to the conclusion that most of the more fingery 6bs just aren’t good for me. Which is naturally frustrating when I’m sure I could climb them if they didn’t hurt so much, but also gives me an excuse to stop looking like a plonker failing to stick the holds or rope-resting all the time. And, while I rarely climb such continuously steep ground outside (which is where it’s really all at AFAIC), perhaps there are similar good reasons to keep cherry-picking the right HVS/E1s to lead and settling for seconding others without feeling too much of a wuss. Not quite the ‘improvement’ plan I had in mind, but needs must and, like you say, there’s still plenty of good stuff to do!

    Comment by admin — 25 September 2009 @ 9:28 pm

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