Self-rehabilitation of a broken scaphoid (wrist)

So, after spending exactly six weeks in a hard cast with little to no chance of my fractured scaphoid healing, miraculously it did!  So now what?  They sent me home with an appointment card for a month out (mid-January), and said, “Well, just carefully and slowly work on getting that mobility back until we see you again and wear this splint.”  Okay.  What does THAT mean, exactly?

Now, I’m blessed with intelligence, I’ve had a lot of education (I have two B.S. degrees and one M.S. degree), and I have a lot of friends who have broken everything from their backs to their toes.  I have no experience whatsoever in rehabilitating an injury due to a broken bone in as intricate a part of the body as the wrist and have only broken toes prior to this point in my life.  Not only that, but I was completely unprepared for the atrophy that occurred while I was in the hard cast.  So I found myself asking, “What do I do?  I can’t even move my thumb!  My hand won’t close!  My wrist won’t move and is practically a frozen joint!  Ack!  And it all hurts, as in excruciating pain, when I try to move it, and especially when I accidentally bump it on something!  How do you send someone home with instructions like that and expect them to know what to do?!

I got ahold of my good climbing buddy and mentor Lou and asked him what to do.  Lou told me to get a bucket, fill it with warm water, immerse my hand, wrist, and arm in the warm water, and move my thumb and wrist around (or at least try to) while they were all immersed in this bucket of water.  Hydrotherapy.  It’s amazing!  To my surprise, no swelling occurred, and I didn’t have inflammation to deal with.  On top of that, my mobility was greatly enhanced while my arm was immersed in the warm water, and the pain largely subsided!  It’s good to know people with experience, and boy, was I ever grateful to Lou for his expertise in this area!

Once I took my arm out of the warm water, though, my thumb and wrist went back to a worked-feeling soreness and were just as stiff as ever.  Evidently, this process is going to take a while.  I was expecting that, but I was hoping that I could at least keep the progress I’d made during my hydrotherapy session!  Not so.  It will take much more of that, and much strength training and stretching to regain the full use of my hand and wrist again.  My brother got me a grip strength ball to squeeze in order to help with that aspect, as he’s had to go through this type of rehab with his arm (not his wrist, but close) several times in his life.

Lou had another suggestion for me the other day.  Now I can move on to lightly gripping holds in the climbing gym and gaining more mobility through gripping the holds at their varied angles and positions, along with continuation of the hydrotherapy and strength training.  Lou said this would help my mobility, strength, and muscle memory.  I’m excited to try it this morning because it’ll get me closer to climbing than I’ve been since early-mid October!  At least I can touch the holds, grip the holds, visualize the routes…even if I can’t climb yet.

I hope that my return to climbing is swift and strong!  I need to climb!  It’s in my blood.  It runs through my veins screaming to enter the vertical world once more and forever.  Today will be a new beginning.  Again.

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