Unusual rupture of the middle finger flexor digitorum superficialis tendon in a climber: Biomechanical analysis

  • Caso H
  • Vigouroux Laurent
  • Valerio T
  • Goislard de Monsabert B
  • Jaloux C
  • Legré R

  • Sport climbing
  • Tendon rupture
  • Modeling
  • Tendon force


Sport climbing is increasingly popular and consultations by climbers in hand surgery departments are on the increase. The pathologies related to this sport concern essentially the pulley system, tendons being rarely affected. We report the case of a male climber who presented an atypical rupture of the flexor superficialis tendon in his left middle finger sustained when using an atypical climbing grip technique: the “hook grip”. This consists in extension of the metacarpophalangeal joints and maximal flexion of the proximal interphalangeal joints with force exerted only on middle phalanx of the middle finger. A biomechanical analysis using finger musculoskeletal modeling was performed to compare the hook grip to other grips, and the patient’s recovery performance was assessed. Adapted functional treatment with physiotherapy seems to have been a good option for the treatment of this atypical lesion since the patient recovered normal use of his finger in daily life. He recovered maximal force in climbing holds. The biomechanical analysis confirmed that the atypical “hook grip” was likely at the origin of the rupture, since flexor digitorum superficialis tendon force for this grip is greater than in other climbing grip techniques. The “hook grip” seems to be dangerous and should be used cautiously by climbers to prevent similar pathology. Additionally, the patient should henceforth be careful when climbing, since the biomechanical model showed that the remaining flexor digitorum profundus tendon was overused.