Arthritis-like pain in fingers from swimming?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 13, 2007 7:44 AM GMT
    I have been swimming (freestyle) regularly for about a month now. I started to feel an odd pain in the thumb and ring finger of my left hand, and coincidentally, a few days later a swimming buddy of mine mentioned that I should get a pair of swim gloves to protect myself against this.

    I had never heard of the condition (or the prevention) until yesterday. What's the 411? Does this condition have a name that I may research?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 13, 2007 10:52 PM GMT
    Hummm.. Can you be a bit more specific..? What is "odd pain"? Is this a dull achy, or sharp, or electric like pain, or burning, tingling, pins and needles, etc, etc.. Can you describe the quality of the pain more specifically?

    And what about pain pattern and location? What aggrevates the pain and waht decreases it? On a 24 hours schedule, how does tha pain change from the morning to afternoon to night? Where is the pain? On the knockles (joints)? Spread between joints?

    A pair of swimming gloves sound a bit of strange advise... To protect what? you are not even sure of what structure in the hand is having the symptons, and you do not know the etiology and the primary cause of the sympton.. So golves to protect what...? Gloves can only protect mechanical friction to the skin or pad the soft tissues.

    The little finger and the thumb are not on the same cervical nerve root or even periperial nerve pattern. There are times taht severe carpel Tunnle syndrom can compresse both the Median Nerve and the Ulnar Nerrve, affecting both the radial and ulnar side of the hands. But again, your description is too vague...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 13, 2007 11:15 PM GMT
    I sometimes get pain in my fingers if I reach to far to quickly on my entry when swimming freestyle. Usually my ring and index I think, but since I'm not doing it I can't quite remember. I've always assumed I'm impinging a nerve somewhere higher up -- probably in the way the shoulder is configured at that time? But I'm not sure. Not sure if that is sort of what you are describing either or not.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 14, 2007 12:34 AM GMT
    Thanks for your responses, I appreciate your time.

    It is a quick burst of pain in the knuckle area that fades to a dull ache then disappears. It is intermittent. Arthritis like, thumb and ring finger. From what my buddy said, I presumed that this might be a common complaint for swimmers. He said that it was a repeated stress injury from fingers being pushed back against the water as the hands/arms paddle.

    These specific gloves he mentioned were made by Speedo, and seemed to keep fingers aligned more, but I suppose better attention when I stroke to keeping my fingers together might help.

    Have any of the Real Swim Jocks out there heard of this?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 14, 2007 12:35 AM GMT
    Wrerick..

    The little finger and index finger shares the same periperal nerve group, the Ulnar nerve. This nerve travels from the sides of your neck through your shoulder under your pec and armpits, then through the "funny bone" at the elbow, and reaches your hand. Most of the intrinsic handmuscles are innervated byt the Ulnar Nerve.

    You may have experience a nerve tension symton. The nerve is anchored tigher and looser at various points during this path to your hands. Certain movements, such as fastwrist extension combined with elbow flexion and shoulder extension orflexion/abdduction with internal rotation, can stretch and tug parts of the Ulnar Nerve, causing pain distal to the area of tension, temporarily...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 14, 2007 12:38 AM GMT
    TofuStud...

    What you are describing sounds not like arthritis but rather mild ligamentus injuries. The collateral ligaments to the sides of the fingers may have been sprained or strained, and any motion that pushes the finger side ways (radial or ulnar deviation or valgus and varus) will stress the ligaments, causing pain... The gloves just immobilizes the joints a bit and prevent these forces onthe ligaments.
  • UStriathlete

    Posts: 320

    Jul 14, 2007 1:17 AM GMT
    never of herad of this in my 18 years of swimming.

    when teaching hand entry, place the hand on top of the water, keeping fingers together firm, not tight. feel the catch out front and bend at the elbow, keeping elbow at water surface level. finger tips pointing down at the bottom of pool. like placing our hands on the pool deck to pull yourself out.

    www.goswim.tv karlyn pipes Neilsen Freestyly DVD is the best

    good luck!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 14, 2007 1:42 AM GMT
    I've been a swimmer for over forty years, and have never heard of this either. Can't see how swim gloves could help. You may keeping your hands too tense. It's not necessary to cup your hands or squeeze your fingers together. Many good swimmers keep their fingers apart during the pull. Try to relax your hand and forearm and let your back muscles do the work.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 14, 2007 4:46 AM GMT
    He might have injured it while doing somthing else and it carries to the activity of swimming. I know that I have a ligamentus sprain of my R little finger but I could not figure out how I did it until I got the same HARD hand shake from an over enthusiastic patient, then I realized his hand shake was the culprit... It hurts when I write, make a fist, grab the weights when I work out, etc.

    Also Ulnar Nerve Tension impairment is not as uncommon as people think... But it usually only happens with a very specific movement, so most people just avoid this movement and it never bothers them, unless it is severe enough to affect daily activities such as shaving... You can test yourself by performing end range shoulder extension without any shoulder abduction, with elbow flexion, and wrist/finger extension especially the little finger side. If you have this condition, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th fingers will feel like the same sensation of hitting the "funny bone" or even parasthesia such as pins and needles or pain...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 14, 2007 4:53 AM GMT
    TofudStud..

    I would recommend the folowing:

    1. Go see a hand ortho (they are specialized) and have some simple mechanical ortho tests done to rule out any finger joint pathologies.

    If ortho feels warrented, he or she will order X ray, or MRI (not very likely given your symptons, well, it depends on your insurance...)

    2. Get an upper extremity/neck EMG test. This is to rule out any peripheral neurological disorders.

    You may have one or both categories of conditions, or none of the above.

    Arthritis is still not very likely in this case...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 15, 2007 8:10 PM GMT
    Ok well, i've been noticing that the ring finger and the thumb don't always stay closed up in one unit as I plunge in the left hand, and these fingers are left waving in the water as I stroke. However, unrelated to swimming, NYCMusc4masc, you reminded me of an ongoing sprain-like pain in my little finger on the same hand. I believe I injured it months ago, and it never once bothers me until I re-injure by accidentally torquing the finger in the wrong direction with day to day activity.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 15, 2007 8:45 PM GMT
    The first part, I do not have any answers to... I am not sure if that is something to be alarmed with...

    The 2nd part, if you do hve ligamentus injury, you just need it to heal. There is not much they can do for you excpet to possibly splint it (immobilize it) so the ligments will heal without stress...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 30, 2007 3:17 AM GMT
    Checking in a few weeks later. Thanks again for the discussion. Seems as if the pain in my left hand has lessened now that I pay close attention to bending my thumb and fingers slightly while slicing through the water with my strokes. My fingers stay together better, and individual fingers don't trail in the current as much. Haven't gotten the gloves yet, I'll hold off on that.