Climbing Around Different Types of Joint Damage

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Rock climbing is intense for the whole body. All of your limbs work together to propel you upward, largely without help. The harness and safety ropes are there to catch you if you fall, of course, but they aren’t meant to carry you to the top of a rock wall. All the same, it’s important to have that climbing gear in good working order. Places like the Texas Rock Gym in Houston make that a priority. Stress and friction on the gear wears it down over time, much like too much pressure and friction in your joints from arthritis damages them. Unlike climbing gear, though, joints can’t be replaced easily.

There are many different types of arthritis that affect your feet and ankles, making it difficult for your lower limbs to function well. It could be the result of wear and tear, autoimmune issues, or even past injuries. Like grit in gears or sand in climbing ropes, arthritis grinds down the protective layers of tissue in your lower limbs, damaging the bones and causing pain whenever you move. There are three main types that tend to affect the lower limbs:

  • Osteoarthritis – Years of wear and tear can thin down the cartilage between bones, allowing the hard tissue to grind together instead. This is most common in middle-aged and older people.
  • Post-Traumatic Arthritis – This typically develops sometime after an injury that damages a joint. Dislocations or fractures may disrupt the cartilage and allow it to wear away.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – This is an autoimmune disease. For unknown reasons, the body attacks the tissues in the joint, causing intense swelling, distortion, and damage. It can be seriously disfiguring in some cases.

If you’re struggling at all with stiff, arthritic joints, don’t give up your mobility by letting it progress. The inflammation and damage will only get worse unless you do something about it—and neither stopping all activities nor pushing yourself too hard is the right answer.

Our team at Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston, TX, will help you alleviate pain and keep up with your climbing or other activities. Although most cases can be handled conservatively, particularly bad arthritis that leads to bunions or requires surgical treatment is one of our specialties. Dr. Parker has been performing joint replacement procedures since the late 1970s and has the training and experience necessary to offer you the best possible outcome for your lifestyle needs, whether you require surgery or otherwise.

Contact us for an appointment through our website, or by calling (281) 497-2850.

Below: Before and after photos of joint replacement surgery for first metatarsal phalangeal joint at the base of the first toe (bunion).

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