General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Handlebar/Cyclist's Palsy Rss Feed  
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2013-08-22 9:09 PM


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Subject: Handlebar/Cyclist's Palsy
I did a 2 x century ride weekend (Seattle to Portland) about a month ago, and walked away with some pretty good numbness/tingling/loss of strength in ring and pinky finger: total textbook Handlebar (sometimes called Cyclist's) Palsy. Everybody says it takes a lot of time to heal, so I let it rest. Ice every day, lots of Vitamin I(buprofen) and rest. I've tried swimming, but after a few hundred yards the fingers either get very weak or start to hurt. Biking aggravates it. Lifting just flat out sucks.

After the ride, and 2 weeks after, it was probably a 7/10. Now it's a 3-4/10, but it's not getting any better after 6 weeks. Went to the Dr., but he gave me the most Dr. answer ever: let's talk to Neurology and see about surgical options. To which I said: Like hell. I'll take my chances with rest.

For those of you who've had this, how long? How did you get it to go away? No pool and no bike is starting to drive me a bit nuts...


2013-08-23 6:51 AM
in reply to: runningmon

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Subject: RE: Handlebar/Cyclist's Palsy

I had carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand, which is similar to cyclist's palsy, but involves compression of the median nerve rather than the ulnar nerve in the wrist.  The pain was constant and got progressively worse to the point where I couldn't sleep at night.

Working with my doctor, we tried different forms of passive treatment for nearly a year: rest, ice, a brace, etc., none of which had any lasting effect.  Very frustrating.

We eventually agreed on surgery as a last resort.  It was done as an outpatient procedure.  My hand hurt like h*** for a few days afterwards which had me second-guessing my decision.  However once I recovered from the effects of the surgery itself, the hand was fine and has been ever since.

Since then I've been careful not to do anything to cause a reccurance.  Lots of wrist & hand strengthening exercises, gel-filled bar tape on my bars, gel-padded gloves on training rides, and changing hand positions frequently, especially on long training rides.

My best advice would be to find doctor that you trust and feel comfortable working with, and don't be hesistant to get a second opinion, particularly if you're considering surgery.

Good luck,

Mark

 

2013-08-23 4:39 PM
in reply to: runningmon

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Subject: RE: Handlebar/Cyclist's Palsy
These same symptoms can be from pressure or nerves in the neck. which can occur from looking up(5degrees is enough) a lot, a common cyclists position! Get several opinions and even see a physical theripists.
2013-08-23 4:58 PM
in reply to: runningmon

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Subject: RE: Handlebar/Cyclist's Palsy

I've had it too.  The first time it lasted for probably 3-4 weeks and sounds just like what your symptoms are.  It stayed in a somewhat 'weakened' condition ... similar to your 7 out of 10 ... for about a month and then went away.  During this 3-4 week period I did not change my routine ... I ran, I swam and I cycled.  For me, I found my bike was too small.  My torso is tall and I needed a longer top tube bike, such that when I switched from a 56cm to 58cm my hands laid much better on the bars and problem solved.  I found for me, that moderate stretching of my fingers and wrist, exercise and sticking to my routine worked better than complete rest. 

Hang in there

2013-08-23 5:20 PM
in reply to: Dorm57

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Subject: RE: Handlebar/Cyclist's Palsy

 

I did the STP as well, was a great ride!

 

I also have a problem with cyclist's palsy. I was pretty numb in a few fingers after the ride. My sister is a physical therapist. Her opinion was to just give it some time. She said I was not likely doing any permanent damage. She did want me to try something different to stop the re-occurences but said I should be okay in the mean time.

I am going to try one of those carbon bars that goes flat on either side of the stem, see if that extra position doesn't help some.

I am still a bit numb in my pinky now but not enough to really bother me. If I were you I would give it another few weeks, see if it gets any better. Good luck!

2013-08-23 5:43 PM
in reply to: Aarondb4

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Subject: RE: Handlebar/Cyclist's Palsy
I had a pinched ulner nerve, at the elbow, but it was likely caused by my sleeping habits. I wouldn't toss out surgery just like that. I saw the doctor and we did the electrical tests. Found out that my nerve isn't transmitting as much/as fast as it should, so they could tell it was damaged. Said to wait a while and see what happens. Followed up with him 2-3 months later and he freaked out. My hand wasted away so gradually that I didn't notice but once he pointed it out, my left hand looked like a skeleton and my right hand looked normal. I could have waited longer to see if it got better, but after researching, the longer you wait the more likely you'll have permanent nerve damage. I had surgery in February, which was when I was 1/3 in my IM training. I was super pissed and had to take off 2 weeks but I didn't lose as much fitness as I thought.

I'm glad I got the operation done. My pinky and ring finger are still numb but much better than pre-surgery. I got some muscle mass back in my hand but it's no where near what my right hand looks like. It sounds like the little numbness I have now will likely be permanent but at least I stopped it before it got worst. Either way, I'd recommend not biking and adjusting your biking habits and stance to account for this. Who cares if the position is faster, if you're going to lose a hand or two from it.


2013-08-24 2:52 PM
in reply to: Blastman


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Subject: RE: Handlebar/Cyclist's Palsy
Thanks all-- I'm going to try and get an appointment up at Corpore Sano for a consult with one of the PT's up there as well as getting the Neuro eval from the Dr.'s office. In an old similar thread on here, I saw that someone suggested swimming with paddles. Might try that just so that I can get back in the water. As much as the lack of bike time is killing me, I'm probably staying off the bike until those two appointments just so that I can get a sense of whether or not I'm continuing to exacerbate the situation by riding... Regardless, I appreciate all the perspective!
2013-08-24 9:30 PM
in reply to: runningmon

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Subject: RE: Handlebar/Cyclist's Palsy
I had gotten mild forms of this after long charity rides, and had it worse after back-to-back centuries a few years ago (though not as bad as you have it.)
A chiropractic adjustment really helped- I'd say I went from about a 6/10 annoyance and pain to 3/10 right away, and after a few days it was gone. I'm sure a lot depends on the root of the problem and the skill of the chiropractor, though.
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