Author Topic: Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?  (Read 670 times)

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Offline Jblizard

Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?
« on: August 28, 2014, 08:06:21 pm »
I just finished my cross-country tour (also my first tour)! Hurray, feeling accomplished, excited to do more touring in the future, but I'm having hand issues.

On the tour, my left hand pinky and ring finger went numb, and stayed numb for the duration of the tour. I did some research online and found out that people call this cyclist's palsy and that it usually goes away, but sometimes takes weeks to fully fade. This is scaring me, because I study classical guitar at a conservatory, and I need my hands when I go back to school.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out if there are any ways to speed up the recovery and get my fingers back to fully functional. I'm currently wearing a sling, trying not to use the hand/arm unless absolutely necessary, and trying to stretch it regularly, but I don't know if it's better to rest it or try to strengthen the muscles by using it.

As for future tours, I know that I need better padding on my bars, as well as to raise my bars so my hands are above my pelvis, but if anyone has other advice for preventing numbness in the future, that would also be appreciated. This tour made my certain that I want to do other tours in the future, but I can't risk losing feeling in my hands like this again.

Thanks!

Offline bogiesan

Re: Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2014, 11:00:08 pm »
Get a recumbent.

The various forms of nerve stress and possible damage are not easily diagnosed, as your research indicated. Far too many individual factors and there's no way for a doctor to see what's going on with your nerves. However, a good sports-specific MD can assess your bike and your riding position and, based on your symptoms, make a pretty good guess about what might prevent it next time.

while I know people who are enamored of bike fit shops, those proprietors usually are working on standard forms. They' generally not physical therapists.

That's where I'd start but the guy I see is a marathoner and tri. He understands bikes. He even understands my recumbent.

I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline Miller

Re: Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2014, 10:41:08 am »
I don't know your handlebar set-up but simply getting drop bars and riding on the hoods solved all of my hand numbness issues. I like oversized 31.8 diameter bars with flat tops. I use gel pads and Cinelli cork/gel tape to the give the bars a cushy feel. Works great.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2014, 03:26:39 pm »
Getting a pro fit saved me from this problem and several others (back, neck, knees...).  After the fit session, I took off on a ride and all of the above issues had disappeared.  I have since ridden thousands of miles pain free.  What a difference!
May the wind be at your back!

Offline DaveB

Re: Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2014, 05:47:11 pm »
I don't know your handlebar set-up but simply getting drop bars and riding on the hoods solved all of my hand numbness issues. I like oversized 31.8 diameter bars with flat tops. I use gel pads and Cinelli cork/gel tape to the give the bars a cushy feel. Works great.
The advantage to drop bars isn't the ability to ride on the hoods, it's the ability to have several hand placements so the nerves aren't subject to pressure all in one place.  You can ride with your hands on the hoods, on the tops or on the drops and give your hands a variety of pressure points.

The real "cure" for handlebar palsy is not to get it in the first place.  Move your hands to various positions as you ride.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2014, 11:49:05 pm »
The advantage of the recumbent is not having any of those issues from the start. Not any. Not at all.

You come across a bent rider on your journey and you ask him or her how they feel, how's the road treating their body, how's their ride? They don't ever say anything like, "I can't wait to get off this bike so my arms/neck/wrists/hands/butt can stop aching/hurting/twitching/numbing."

While the cure for cycling palsy is to never get it, the way to never get it is to have a bike that has the affliction designed out of it.

Just my opinion, of course, not really part of this discussion. I have a seat that is four inches thick, a backrest and a headsup riding position that is relaxed and natural; high definition cycling, a bike designed with the behind in mind.

I put about 5,000 miles on my bike in a year mostly because it's so comfortable.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline Miller

Re: Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2014, 07:30:43 am »
The advantage of the recumbent is not having any of those issues from the start. Not any. Not at all.

You come across a bent rider on your journey and you ask him or her how they feel, how's the road treating their body, how's their ride? They don't ever say anything like, "I can't wait to get off this bike so my arms/neck/wrists/hands/butt can stop aching/hurting/twitching/numbing."

While the cure for cycling palsy is to never get it, the way to never get it is to have a bike that has the affliction designed out of it.

Just my opinion, of course, not really part of this discussion. I have a seat that is four inches thick, a backrest and a headsup riding position that is relaxed and natural; high definition cycling, a bike designed with the behind in mind.

I put about 5,000 miles on my bike in a year mostly because it's so comfortable.


Yes and I should have mentioned that to the OP. I do move my hands around some for brief periods but 90% of the time I am on the hoods and that's what has made the difference for me.

Offline canalligators

Re: Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2014, 01:27:44 pm »
These symptoms sound like mine, which turned out to be pinched nerves in the neck.  When it happened to me, the immediate diagnosis was pinched nerves in my neck.  This is because the nerve that serves the two little fingers exits the spine in a different place than the nerve serving the other fingers.

Subsequent nerve conduction testing confirmed the original diagnosis.  And contrary to a previous remark, some conditions, such as this, can be positively diagnosed at a reasonable cost.  See an orthopedist, who can arrange the testing.

Offline driftlessregion

Re: Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2014, 08:40:45 pm »
There may indeed be a medically treatable problem. But wouldn't you rather take care of it if you could by having a thorough professional fit? If that doesn't work, then see the orthopod or PT or whatever medical professional you choose. A good MD will ask if you've tried all the non-invasive options first (including medications).

Offline waynemyer

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Re: Quick fixes for cyclist's palsy?
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2014, 11:12:14 am »
Since you already have the neuropathy, a bike fit will only help to prevent future occurrences. You need to see a neurologist who will be able to quantitatively test where along the nerve the neuropathy is occurring. Pinky and ring finger indicate ulnar nerve, possibly (often) an entrapment where the nerve passes around the elbow.

If you can't get to a neurologist, stretching/flossing exercises for ulnar nerves might be of assistance. And the neurologist would probably suggest you see a career rehab specialist, who subsequently would just suggest the same exercises.
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