Hand Problems from Cycling - de Quervain's Tensosynovitis and Cyclist's Palsy Syndrome
Paris- Roubaix. Responsible for hand problems?
Your hands are a key contact point when biking
Compression of the Ulnar nerve from cycling has been recognised as a problem associated with cycling since the sport and leisure activity began. Ulnar nerve compression from cycling produces both sensatory symptoms and muscular weaknesses that lead to decreased comfort. This nerve compression is often referred to as Cyclists Palsy.
Ulnar Nerve lesions are the most popular handlebar contact related compression syndrome found in cyclists and the most common overuse problem is de Quevains tensosynovitis which affects the tendons of the thumb as a result of it wrapping around the bike' handlebars leading to numbness.
Having issues with your hands from bicycling?
Causes of Cyclist's Palsy
The most common cause of cyclist's palsy is compression of the ulnar nerve as it enters the hand through an area known as the canal of Guyon. (Yes it Sounds like something from the Lord of The Rings). The canal of Guyon is on the medial side of the wrist (closest to your little finger/ pinky).
The condition is made worse by vibration. Imagine how bad a Professional Cyclist Must feel after over 200 kilometers on the cobbles of Paris - Roubaix causing a jarring and vibration effect. Many Professional Cyclists complain of numbness or a buzzing vibration in their hands for some time after the race as a result of the vibration as the wheels bounce off the cobblestones.
Management of de Quervain's Tensosynovitis while cycling
Management of Cycling Palsy
To take pressure off the medial side of the hand you can;
- Adjust your bar position or height to reduce pressure
- Change to a different style of bars- some road cyclists find that a thicker, wider bar proves to be moire comfortable over long rides
- Add a second layer of handlebar tape if you are on a road bike
- Mountain Bikers/ Leisure Bikers can change their handlebar grips for a different type
- Invest in some cycling mitts/ long finger gloves which have a separate pad to protect the medial side of the hand. Specialized have their own 'Body Concept' Gloves which have an ulnar nerve area protector.
- Suspension forks are an ideal investment for mountain bikers to reduce vibration.
Purchasing some of the below if you don't already have them will make life on the bike more comfortable.
Products to help avoid Cyclist's Palsy and discomfort
Ulnar protection for a more comfortable long distance cycling experience
Ulnar Compression protection for an enjoyable cycling experience.
Gel sections in the handlebar tape help absorb vibration. Add a second level of tape for extra protection
Medical management of Cyclist's Palsy
Cyclist's Palsy can be treated with NSAID's (Non steroidal anti- inflammatory devices) or through cortisone injects which may be required in severe resistant cases.
Surgery may be required to the nerves as an extreme last resort.