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Numb finger whilst climbing (Read 1145 times)

James Malloch

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Numb finger whilst climbing
May 24, 2022, 08:45:16 am
Iíve had it a few times recently where Iíve been climbing something onsight (at my limit) and found one of my fingers going numb/getting a very faint pins and needles feeling.

Means I canít really feel any holds properly with that one finger (though still seems to climb fine). More of a surreal feeling. Seems to happen on more fingery routes (only happened twice though, 3-4 weeks apart).

Iíve still got it very slightly after a climb yesterday and wondering what it could be. Anyone had this before who might be able to shed some light on it?

CrimpyMcCrimpface

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#1 Re: Numb finger whilst climbing
May 24, 2022, 09:11:54 am
I've had this before, but I'm afraid I don't know why either. In my case the numbness lasted around 2 weeks and was just a single finger on my left hand. Ring or little finger I can't remember which but I do know it happened after hanging from an edged pocket of sorts then boning into a crimp. In the pocket I felt circulation was being cut off.

I was also onsight route climbing. Though the route wasn't at my limit in terms of grade, it was new years day in chorro, I was hungover, and it felt like the living end at the time. It may as well have been my limit.

It may be a different cause to what you're experiencing, as I remember rationalising that I had maybe disconnected a nerve ending, but the result was similar.

Quite concerning at the time.

Stabbsy

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#2 Re: Numb finger whilst climbing
May 24, 2022, 09:12:38 am
Iíd guess it could be a few different things, but in my case itís always been elbow related. Pressure on the nerve through the elbow was my guess, often seemed to be a precursor to golferís elbow flaring up. Now I just use it as an indicator to start elbow prehab.

SA Chris

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#3 Re: Numb finger whilst climbing
May 24, 2022, 09:17:00 am
I've done exactly what CMCF describes, pulling hard on a narrowing pocket and leaving my little finger numb for a couple of week, but this sound more like what Stabbsy describes (which I have had too). It is probably a nerve impingement somewhere in the along the chain?

slab_happy

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#4 Re: Numb finger whilst climbing
May 24, 2022, 09:25:50 am
Iíve had it a few times recently where Iíve been climbing something onsight (at my limit) and found one of my fingers going numb/getting a very faint pins and needles feeling.

Means I canít really feel any holds properly with that one finger (though still seems to climb fine). More of a surreal feeling. Seems to happen on more fingery routes (only happened twice though, 3-4 weeks apart).

Iíve still got it very slightly after a climb yesterday and wondering what it could be. Anyone had this before who might be able to shed some light on it?

Which finger? The pins-and-needles suggests it's a nerve thing, as other people have already said -- probably something getting pinched.

Identifying which finger it is could help identify where in the chain that pinch might be, because you've got different nerve branches covering different bits of the hand.

James Malloch

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#5 Re: Numb finger whilst climbing
May 24, 2022, 10:03:07 am
Itís left index finger this time (canít remember what it was last time but I think the same). Just seems to impact my first pad. More on the thumb side and towards the first joint. I only feel it on the pad side (not the nail side really). Or at least thatís how it feels today.

Both happened on pockety/crimps routes at Margalef and CťŁse.

Have had some cramps in the Brachioradialis muscle on this trip too (fatigue/overdoing it related) where it cramps and is visibly spasming around the elbow. Thought this has only happened 1/2 times and not coincided with finger numbness.

Edit - itís not something Iím
worried about really. Just interested to find out if itís something I can avoid. Not much worse than trying to crimp high up on a redpoint without being able to feel the hold properly!

slab_happy

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#6 Re: Numb finger whilst climbing
May 24, 2022, 11:18:52 am
Okay, so median nerve, probably.

I think that's on the opposite side of the elbow from the brachioradialis, but personally I'd still be inclined to start investigating there in case it's related, use your thumb or a massage tool or whatever to poke around all of the elbow and look for hot spots where it feels like there's a knot or spasm, roll out any tight areas.

It could be getting pinched somewhere else, but if you're getting elbow stuff then Occam's razor suggests that might be causing the nerve stuff too. And a bit of tissue work never hurts.

Edit - itís not something Iím
worried about really. Just interested to find out if itís something I can avoid. Not much worse than trying to crimp high up on a redpoint without being able to feel the hold properly!

Also it's always easier to get on top of stuff like this if you start early when it's just a little bit of occasional weirdness, rathen than waiting until it turns into a more persistent or serious problem.

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#7 Re: Numb finger whilst climbing
May 24, 2022, 12:36:30 pm
Not suggesting the elbow nerve suggestions are wrong, but could it just be compression of the nerve around the pip joint? I had this once after doing nasty fingerlocks on Chisel at Cambusbarron. Lasted 2-3 months and I had no feeling on the thumbs side of my index.

The nerves run right along the edges of the finger, so a really constricting pocket and hard onsight pulling could easily have compressed it.

 

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