The A1 Pulley Strain — The classic.

By | March 9, 2012 | 5 comments

As the creator of this site I’ve come to learn a few things about climbing injuries.  I try to keep up with new and traditional treatments.  I’ve answered many emails and hopefully helped a few.

Now I get to once again to test my knowledge on my own body.  Earlier this week I felt the ever-so-common twinge on my A1 pulley.  It’s the most common climbing injury and now I get to join those of you who are reading this site .  I’m on the bench.  I’m on the disabled list.

It gives me the opportunity to test out a few things.  I will attempt to treat this injury with a full-scale attack.  I will employ a variety of techniques and treatments.  I will try:

  • Acupuncture
  • Prolotherapy
  • Certified Hand Therapist

I will have 3 independent treatment plans, sample size 1.  I will not do any cross regression to isolate significant variables.  In short, this study means nothing.  BUT, at least I can learn from the different philosophies.

Treatment 1:  Acupuncture
I have just returned from my first acupuncture treatment.  I will not pretend to know anything about this type of medicine.  I can say that I’m dubious of its effectiveness.  I was poked with tiny needles and left lying on a comfortable table for about 30min.   Nothing profound occurred.  Maybe because I’m cynical, and/or annoyed by the “massage music”.  I think that music is all made by a 50 year old guy living in sedona.  He has a ponytail, grey hair, and an extended gut.  His name is “David”, but he likes to be called by his tibetan name “Chai”.

I don’t feel any difference in the pulley.

Next try….Prolotherapy.


  • nic houser says:

    i met david. he loves wearing purple and talking about his ex wife.

  • Marco says:

    I think your understanding of acupuncture is biased. Chinese medicine works regardless of you believing in it. The main difference with “western” medicine is the timescale. A single session will not do anything, as you have noticed already. It takes a number of them. Just like the body needs extended time to recover.

  • prometheus says:

    Therein lies the problem of proof. The common management through hand therapy is immobilisation through the use of a splint, enabling appropriate rest over a period of time. If you add ‘extended period of time’ to acupuncture, then what is actually working? the extended passage of time of rest? or the acupuncture?

    My background lies in western medicine, although I have delved into eastern medicine a fair amount. I have seem quite astounding results from acupuncture that I cannot explain through any particular pathoanatomy. However, those results were almost always dramatic and immediate. I am sceptical of acupuncture that requires “extended time” as I simply cannot differentiate between what is working, not to mention placebo effect.

    Prolotherapy? good luck to you. I hate injections, not to mention multiple sessions of them. I hope your experience is successful.

  • Chris O says:

    I have had this injury and was out of commission for a month. I took some inflammatories and lots of Ice massaging . I have come back stronger. My doc wanted me to get the injections but I turned it down. Saved me a lot of money. just gotta rest. I know it sucks but it is one of the best things for you.

  • Emily says:

    Actually, I have used acupuncture to treat elbow and wrist and finger injures, and have had some serious improvements after a few sessions. You cant just go once.. you usually have to go more frequently at first. Additionally, ou can find community acupuncture places in some cities that are less expensive..

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