Jumping to a Gym Injury

By Dr. Julian Saunders | December 26th, 2018


This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 251 (July 2018).


Eighteen months ago I jumped sideways for a big sloper in a gym and immediately felt pain in my wrist. I figured it would just go away like most injuries, but my wrist often seems to dislocate on the little-finger side, and I have to click it back. If I play guitar, the action of making a chord quickly causes pain, which is relieved by clicking the wrist back. When I climb, strapping the wrist helps.



Don’t you hate it when you injure yourself in the gym? It seems so pointless. Utterly, absolutely deflating.

No doubt you have swung sideways on this wrist while putting it under immense load. Though the wrist is fairly robust, for climbers, at least, the ulna side is susceptible to both chronic and acute injuries.

There is a small disc of cartilage anchored between the end of your ulna and the carpal bones on the little-finger side of your wrist. This is called the triangular fibrocartilage complex and acts as a cushion between the ulna and the carpals, making articulation both smooth and stable.

That you have damaged this disc and/or the ligament tissue that anchor it in place is virtually a given. The question is how much damage, and whether it is likely, at this late stage, to settle down. The fact that one or several carpal bones are shifting when the wrist is flexed for even a short period of time is a bad sign.

In your instance there are several possibilities, none of which are pretty. You know it, too— 18 months of discomfort and clear mechanical issues do not bode well. Get an MRI. See a specialist. Transition to the pan flute.


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