Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wrist?

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Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wrist?

Postby Lava » Dec 22, 2014 2:04 pm

In 2008 I was hit by a car while riding my bike. I caught myself on the side of the car with a flat hand and tore a ligament my wrist. Didn't realize I'd done so at the time, and so long story short nearly 7 years later I am at a medical crossroads and would like to get advice from anybody who has been through something similar. My current situation is that caving on the wrist causes some minor pain while in the act of caving, but I tend to not notice it as caving is way overstimulating. After a trip, the pain lingers and is much more noticeable. On a day to day basis, I am mostly not in pain unless I contort my wrist or push hard on something. But I fear for the future. I've spoken to a few doctors, and I basically have two options right now:

Option 1- Ligament Reconstruction
Pros: Might stabilize the joint enough to avoid a partial or full wrist fusion in the future, but it's not even close to a slam-dunk.
Cons: Unlikely to alleviate current pain. Frequently the procedure does not work well for people with as much arthritis and wrist bone displacement as I currently have. The surgery takes part of a tendon out of my forearm and transplants it to the wrist (the original ligament can't be repaired as the injury is too old). Requires 8-10 weeks in a cast, then 6 months of recovery. Once recovered, my hand won't go all the way flat to allow me to crawl. And the one motion that I am supposed to avoid, basically forever, is putting body weight on the hand in any position approaching a pushup (i.e. crawling) or the reconstruction could break. Major potential of still needing a wrist fusion in the future anyway. I can't imagine this repair holding up to my lifestyle.

Option 2 - Do Nothing
Pros: Assuming the pain doesn't get too bad, can still do all the hardcore caving stuff I want to in the next decade and will retain full range of motion.
Cons: Wrist will probably get so thrashed that I'll need a fusion in another 1-2 decades, which destroys wrist range of motion far more than the aforementioned surgery. But it alleviates basically all the pain.

I am torn (pun intended) here on what to do, and it's totally bumming me out because for the first time I am not feeling invincible as a caver. I could deal with this a lot better if it was happening to me later in life, but at 40 it's a little tough to take.

If anybody has been through this, please let me know what your experience is. I'd love to hear from someone who has been caving on a wrist with a torn ligament for a long time, to know how that injury progresses. Also, if you've had a reconstruction of the scapholunate interosseous ligament, let me know how that went for you and how it is holding up to caving. Another question I have is whether it is possible to cave hard on a fused wrist. If that eventuality happens, hopefully I can still do vertical and crawl on a closed fist. Maybe the adjustment is not so bad, and it's not as debilitating as it sounds? Although I do know one person who was basically taken out of caving completely by a wrist fusion. Ugh. Injuries suck.
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Re: Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wri

Postby GroundquestMSA » Dec 22, 2014 6:12 pm

I tore mine playing baseball when I was 21. I had to make the same decision you're making, and decided to leave it alone. After 6 years, I still hurt it sometimes at work, but if I am careful for a while after the pain shows up, I usually recover quickly. Every now and then I'll realize that it has been a long time since it hurt and imagine everything's all better, but it always flares up eventually. I haven't had any trouble caving, but I'm not a hardcore caver.
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Re: Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wri

Postby yvonnedroms » Dec 22, 2014 6:26 pm

Sorry to hear about your injury. But is this helps you make a decision, I'll tell you about what ails me. I have arthritis in both wrists, thumbs, and in the main joint of the middle finger of my right hand. I can still cave just fine by bending my hand instead of my wrist. I can put the full weight of my body on the metacarpals in my left hand, and on the proximal phalanges on my right hand (I had to go look those terms up!). I don't have any advice for you as far as having an operation or not, but I wish you luck and keep on caving!
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Re: Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wri

Postby LukeM » Dec 23, 2014 9:57 am

Occasional I get pain in my wrist that can be aggravated by crawling around or carrying heavy objects. It tends to be a sharp pain at the extreme ends of its range of motion, and sounds similar to what you're dealing with, though possibly not as bad. It's probably from years of slamming it into the ground while skateboarding. Anyway, my doctor recommended wearing a wrist brace in my downtime, so whenever it starts to flair up I wear a brace when sleeping (when you're unconscious you can do some awkward things with your limbs) and during certain physical activities and within a few days to a week it's pretty much back to normal. I also occasionally do range of motion exercises and various stretches which seems to help.
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Re: Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wri

Postby DawgsgoCaving » Dec 23, 2014 11:54 pm

It's your call in the end. You know how you feel and what you're limits are.

I got in a car wreck and completely snapped my ulna. I was rushed to the ER and found out I absolutely needed surgery. They gave me 14 screws and a butterfly plate. I woke up in a lot of pain and a crooked arm. They told me I would most likely have to return to get the hardware removed in 9 months. I did easier horizontal caves and gradually worked my way to frogging. Despite some periods of soreness, I found I could do everything I necessary for caving and did not return for the minor surgery.

I also had ACL reconstruction a few years back and my knee still hurts every now and then (a trip to Microwave last Saturday didn't do anything for it)....

If you continue having trouble with your wrist and it's putting you at risk when you're caving then seek out the surgery now. I guess what I am trying to say is it's alright to push yourself so long as you're being safe. Anything else is reckless. I feel you, though. I really do. The thought of my injury getting worse and preventing me from caving is devastating, but it may one day happen. Take life one trip at a time.

Good luck!
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Re: Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wri

Postby DawgsgoCaving » Dec 23, 2014 11:59 pm

Oh yeah, and talk to more than one doctor. Sorry I couldn't be more help, I know fusion surgery is pretty specific.
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Re: Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wri

Postby MUD » Dec 24, 2014 12:02 pm

A little over 3 years ago I was injured pretty bad working on someone's house. As we were off loading a double patio door from the truck my right distal bicep tendon tore away from it's anchor in my forearm and ripped my bicep in half. Ouchy! :down:

A few days later the surgeons put the peroneus longus tendon from a 34 year old male cadaver in my arm to make it work. Long story short....my arm works, NOT like it used to! Having the body part from another human being in me is kinda cool, albeit weird lol. I have pain everyday and most likely will the rest of my life. I've been through many bouts of rehab and it is what it is. I do no pain medication. I've just learned to live with it. I still cave....NOT like I used to as I simply just can't. My arm doesn't extend the whole way and I can't push, pull or twist it too much. To say my injury changed my life would be a understatement! I got out of the home building/renovating business and now concentrate on building/repairing guitars and other things. I'm in my shop here at home about 21 hours out of the day now lol.

Yeppie my arm hurts all the time, especially when caving. I still go as often as possible. I still dig, push, scoop, map and conquer the caves lol! :woohoo: Life is short....get out there and enjoy it!!!
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Re: Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wri

Postby Lava » Dec 24, 2014 5:05 pm

Thanks for the support everyone. I'm pretty sure this injury won't ever totally keep me from caving so that's good.
GroundquestMSA, it sounds like we're on the same path. I'll be interested to stay in touch and see what does and doesn't work for you to stay healthy.
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Re: Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wri

Postby sls1j » Dec 29, 2014 9:29 am

Might I suggest getting and reading, "The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook Second Edition", Clair Davies, NCTMB. It's a great little book for dealing with all sorts of pain caused by physical activity. It's an inexpensive book but worth it's weight in gold. I've used it to resolve pain in, foot, ankle, shoulders, arm, legs, hands, and back. Even if it doesn't fix your wrist pain, it's still worth it.
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Re: Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wri

Postby caver.adam » Dec 29, 2014 2:10 pm

I don't know anything about torn ligaments (I've only had strained ones that could be fixed with physical therapy). But what I found really helpful for caving was elbow pads and changing the way I cave. Taking weight off my wrist whenever possible was a big bonus to me. Sure, I had to change my technique, but it hurt a lot less the next day.
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Re: Caving with chronic wrist injury/surgically repaired wri

Postby leeboop » Jan 3, 2015 11:17 am

I developed tendonitis in both wrists several years ago. Whenever I exert my wrists (ie lots of crawling), I am reminded of this injury. Sometimes, instead of laying my hand flat on the passage floor, I'll form a fist, so that muscles associated with my wrist aren't hyperextended. Of course, then I run the risk of my wrist giving out but that hasn't happened (yet). Here's a website that show's what I'm talking about (I've never caved or worked out in my flannel PJ's though): http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/bene ... -2666.html
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