Damaged finger joints. How do you cope with riding?

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  • Damaged finger joints. How do you cope with riding?
  • Premier Icon PolisherMan

    Dislocated and broke the middle joint of my middle finger on my left hand 5 weeks ago. The pins holding it all together came out last week. Very early days I know, but the surgeon told me quite bluntly that basically it was knackered.
    Probably got about 10 degrees flex at the moment, physio starts on Friday.

    Anyone done similar?

    I did the same joint of the same finger going over the bars several years ago, I’m afraid this might not be good news for you! I did a bunch of other damage at the same time so didn’t pay it much attention I just thought it was staved. After 5 days I finally went to a doc but they said there was nothing that could be done at that point.
    Mine was very stiff initally too, I was told not to bandage or strap it and once the pain and swelling reduced I should try and move it as much as possible.
    Compared to others I have seen I reckon I got quite lucky, I have nearly full movement but my finger tip stuggles to reach my palm, it’s about 10 degrees off straight when extended, the knuckle is larger than the others and it goes ‘tight’ in the cold! Strength isn’t too bad now but it took forever to come back. It was nearly 6 months before I felt confident enough to hang on the handlebars for proper riding and 2 years before I went climbing again.
    Excercise is key for getting the movement back, stretch it both ways as much as you can. I used clothes pegs and a soft bar grip to keep it moving while working at my desk but I realised too late I hadn’t done enough to flatten it, hence the 10 degrees.

    Premier Icon thepurist

    I started out with a pair of Ergon grips to give a bit more of a grip surface – I found that riding actually helped because you’re naturally working the movement range of the joint anyway & often found I had better mobility in my finger after a ride than before. After a while I took off the Ergons (still in the garage & could be sold BTW 😉 ) and went back to normal grips.

    I was very aware of how weak my right hand grip was for some time. Mine was 4th finger and so I was only gripping the bars with the index & middle finger as 4th & little finger were both limited – if your middle finger is the only one restricted then that may feel better.

    In terms of physio, regular ultrasound didn’t do much, manipulation/massage (ouch) was slightly better in the short term but didn’t seem to be cumulative. I eventually got referred over to occupational health who made up a few splints for me, one fitted over the end of the finger and was pulling it in to the palm, another braced the back of the hand and then pulled the finger in (isolating the PIP joint) then I had a couple of straightening splints, one of which is typically used for Dupuytrens.

    It’s a long haul and it’s really down to you to put in the work on the exercises to get the mobility back. I’m still aware of mine when riding and am a bit more cautious in some tricky sections even though I broke it on a noddy right hander. Lifting things like kettles & saucepans and using kitchen knives is different too – my technique has changed so I can still do that sort of stuff but it’s not quite as controlled as before.


    did same joint too was about a year before I got 80-90% movement back, still nips if I make a fist, knuckle is fatter than rest and finger won’t straighten fully

    would recommend some physio, I probably should have good sooner

    at least I have this pic for these very threads


    I broke my 2 smallest fingers, knuckles and some bones in my hand a few years ago, all held together with wire for a while. Lots of painful physio but Consultant ‘very pleased’ with range of mobility afterwards as he didnt think I could ride my bike properly after the surgery. However my two fingers dont really bend or grip so if Im one finger braking Ive only got 1 fnger holding on. Hurts alot when cold and I wear armoured gloves when DHing or in Alps as I dont want to break it again. Hand position is wierd aswell, kind of naturally twisted on the bars. I used ergon grips for a bit but they seemed to get in the way when riding techier stuff.

    Premier Icon jonathan

    Doesn’t sound (or look!) as bad as those above but I hyper-extended the joint of my ring finger a few years ago (fell off on wet boardwalk, hand down and finger into gap, whilst I carried on sliding past). X-ray showed no breaks but I could do nothing useful with it for a few weeks and then had very limited movement. It’s really only back to normal now after a couple of years, and it was well over a year before I could wear my wedding ring again as the joint was thickened. Even now I only wear it occasionally as it irritates the joint a bit.

    So it can (and probably will) take a long time to get back to normal, or the best it will get back to depending on the injury. But don’t assume it’ll be useless forever!

    forgot to mention grips, I use the Excel grips from superstar components. As I already had a set of their standard grips it just meant buying the grip bit in the middle. It’s a much bigger grip and helps a lot and like above I’m now back on the standard grips.

    Premier Icon PolisherMan

    Yeah, I’ve got small hands, so some of your comments make me think large grips could help.

    Premier Icon ddmonkey

    I have several damaged finger joints and knuckles on my right hand, and have found that I get pain when riding on long rough descents. Also very vulnerable to bashes when crashing or branches etc.

    They do get better very slowly to a point, it took a year for a couple of the injuries to complete their healing process, I fidn that wearing a well armoured glove helps with branches etc, and using Marzocchi coil forks significantly reduces arm pump and hand pain, they are so plush on the first part of the stroke it does make a huge difference I find.


    You guys with hand problems could try midge drop bars, I have them on my 26″ mountain bike and can do about 80% of what I can with a flat bar, a lot less grip on the bars needed, as you tend to use the drops for technical stuff. Best with a shorter top tube frame ( couldn’t fit them on my inbred) 🙂

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    Lots of physio.

    This got me back after my not so bad brake. The issues I get now is due to pressure on nerves that are in different places. Mostly road bike these days trying different gloves tape and bars next. Dislocated my first get tip of my braking finger and the vibration was the worst for a few months. Getting the controls set right helped.


    You guys with hand problems could try midge drop bars, I have them on my 26″ mountain bike and can do about 80% of what I can with a flat bar, a lot less grip on the bars needed, as you tend to use the drops for technical stuff. Best with a shorter top tube frame ( couldn’t fit them on my inbred) 🙂

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog

    Around five years ago I broke a finger and badly sprained two others racing pairs at 24/12. Carried on riding that day after I decided it was ‘just a sprain’, then carried on training for months afterwards in a state of willful denial.

    While it was really sore for the next few months, I used the Specialized equivalent of Ergon grips because they were the only way I could hold the bars. They seem to put more load through the palm area.

    I never went to the doc because basically I’m stupid like that and to be honest, I suspect they’d simply have taped it to the next finger which would have stopped me riding. Slightly misshapen joint now, aware of it in very cold weather, but basically not a problem, though it took about a year to feel normal-ish.

    Everyone’s different though, but I always think that if Joe Simpson can basically smash his leg to bits, get told he’ll never climb again and yet carry on climbing, riding a bike with a trashed finger isn’t that big a deal. But the Spesh BG grips really helped when it was painful, made the difference between being able to ride a bike and not.


    did it look like these?

    16 weeks till the surgeon gave me the all clear to ride

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