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Numb fingers after ride - how long should they last?

Old 05-13-18, 04:11 PM
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davidallenxyz
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Numb fingers after ride - how long should they last?

So I took a too-long ride last week, went beyond my comfort levels on the bike and managed to hurt my right hand/arm.

The symptoms are consistent with some form of injury to my ulnar nerve (my ring and little fingers are both numb and/or "tingly").

I'm not asking for medical advice here - just wondering whether other riders have suffered something similar, and how long the numbness lasted?
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Old 05-13-18, 04:17 PM
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Had that for the first time about 6 months ago. I went about my business and it lasted about 2 weeks and then faded away. I don't think mine was totally biking related.

Last edited by u235; 05-13-18 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 05-13-18, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by davidallenxyz View Post
So I took a too-long ride last week,
What does this mean? Not sure I understand the term "to-long" ride.
Can't help with the nerve issue, but sounds like possible fit or posture issue. You shouldn't be experiencing numb hands/fingers. You could be putting to much weight onto your hands or to stretched out. I have to move around and take different positions on the bar to prevent tingling. Also, gripping to tightly can do it.
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Old 05-13-18, 06:23 PM
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See a physician or emergicare asap. They're could still be some swelling and inflammation pressing on nerves which could lead to long term damage, or an infection. You could also have a blood clot that could break of and travel. A medical professional could do a scan and prescribe anti inflammatories or steroids.

Really...better safe than sorry.
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Old 05-13-18, 07:29 PM
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Yes, I had that happen when I pushed my mileage a little too far when I first started, on a bike that didn't fit me very well. Symptoms took about 10 days to resolve completely in my case.
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Old 05-13-18, 07:50 PM
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How much longer or farther than usual ?
bike fit not optimal.
Several years ago, rode a trek 520 on a three day tour,
bike seemed ok at first, but after about 75 km each day,
i got a little numb in the fingers, especially little fingers.
had not really broken the bike in yet, fit was not yet tweaked.
was about three days before i was getting back to normal.
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Old 05-13-18, 07:53 PM
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I've had tingling in my left small and ring fingers, maybe some in my middle finger while riding. It generally went away pretty quick after the ride. In my case, getting a proper bike fit helped. If that sensation is persisting for you, you should have it checked by a doctor to make sure there's no serious issue. Then, a bike fit done at your LBS can rule out the bike and, hopefully, keep it from recurring.
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Old 05-13-18, 07:56 PM
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I had that happen bad after my first century ride (which I finished, but apparently wasn't quite ready for.) That time, it lasted a good two weeks. It was mostly in my dominant (right) hand.

Other times, I got a bit of numbness after longer rides, which lasted less than a day. With decent gloves, some tweaks to bike fit, and a stronger core, I very rarely get numb hands now.
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Old 05-13-18, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
I had that happen bad after my first century ride (which I finished, but apparently wasn't quite ready for.) That time, it lasted a good two weeks. It was mostly in my dominant (right) hand.

Other times, I got a bit of numbness after longer rides, which lasted less than a day. With decent gloves, some tweaks to bike fit, and a stronger core, I very rarely get numb hands now.
Question is whether the ulnar nerve is being impinged at the elbow or at the wrist. Hard to tell without an EMG. If it's not getting better in the next week or so, you should see your doctor. I'd call and make that appointment first thing tomorrow. You can always cancel it if normal sensation returns before the appointment.
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Old 05-13-18, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by davidallenxyz View Post
So I took a too-long ride last week, went beyond my comfort levels on the bike and managed to hurt my right hand/arm.

The symptoms are consistent with some form of injury to my ulnar nerve (my ring and little fingers are both numb and/or "tingly").

I'm not asking for medical advice here - just wondering whether other riders have suffered something similar, and how long the numbness lasted?
It can last anywhere from minutes to days to longer. With a good bike fit, it really ought to not happen at all. Assuming the nerve shenanigans are happening at the hand (which may or may not be the case!), some things to consider:
1-If you're putting lots of weight on your hands, you may benefit from a less-aggressive posture that puts more of your weight over your butt. This typically involves rotating everything backwards around the bottom bracket (saddle farther back and lower, handlebars higher, etc).
2-There could be other sorts of fit problems. A saddle that's tilted too far down can sometimes push the rider against the handlebars, for instance. Sometimes high hand pressure is also caused by the bars being too *high*, if your body is at an aggressive angle where it wants the bars to be lower or otherwise farther away. It could also just be that your hands don't like the shape of the grips, perhaps because the handlebar wrap is too narrow, or they don't like your handlebar style.
3-Similar to saddles: if there's excessive padding at the hand contact, the bones of the hand can sink into the padding, causing the padding to push against softer areas of the palm. I use unpadded gloves for this reason; padded gloves can make my hands go numb almost instantly.
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Old 05-14-18, 07:28 AM
  #11  
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Start with figuring out why this happened. Could be something as simple as not changing your hand position enough.
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Old 05-14-18, 09:23 AM
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The prognosis for nerve injuries depends on the severity and mechanism of injury. If the nerve has simply been compressed and had its blood supply cut off for a while, it recovers in hours to weeks. If there is a more severe injury, where some nerve fibers are actually killed or disrupted, complete recovery can take months-years, while the fibers die back and re-grow from the spinal cord at the rate of about a millimeter a day. If the nerve is severed, including its connective tissue sheath, surgical reattachment can be required. For your injury, I would bet heavily on the first category.

You can have the extent of injury assessed with nerve conduction studies and electromyography after a couple of weeks, if you enjoy electric shocks and needles. Earlier than that it's a waste of time because the changes don't show up in the muscles until then. However, nothing anyone can do is likely to alter your recovery.

Last edited by MoAlpha; 05-14-18 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 05-14-18, 02:13 PM
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For the same reason your toes get numb if the cleats are too far forward your hands will get numb when your reach is too far. The combination of excessive reach with excessively high handlebar is why many people give up cycling IMHO.
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Old 05-14-18, 04:51 PM
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Have had that happen on a few occasions as well, numbness in the ring and little finger. Seemed to happen on longer rides when I got tired and form went down the tubes and I probably put too much weight on the bars. Each times it goes away within 24 hours, maybe lingers slightly longer. Not enjoyable so I'm more careful now and don't seem to have the issue. Not forgetting to change hand positions probably helps as well.
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Old 05-14-18, 06:49 PM
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Numb fingers after ride - how long should they last?
Ideally your fingers should last a lifetime. However, you shouldn't really be numb when you ride. I had to have carpal tunnel surgery in both wrists for the numbness to go away. The cause of your numbness may be related to something else. Best to see a doctor, who can refer you to a specialist that deals with such matters.
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Old 05-15-18, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius View Post
Ideally your fingers should last a lifetime. However, you shouldn't really be numb when you ride. I had to have carpal tunnel surgery in both wrists for the numbness to go away. The cause of your numbness may be related to something else. Best to see a doctor, who can refer you to a specialist that deals with such matters.
OP's problem is ulnar nerve compression (5th and half of 4th fingers). Carpal tunnel surgery won't help him. The question is where the nerve is being compressed, and why. The most usual reason is overuse of the upper arm, especially tripceps, with poor ergonomics. Like a long bike ride with ill-fitting frame and handlebar geometry.
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Old 05-15-18, 06:01 AM
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https://www.physio-pedia.com/File:Cy...nvolvement.jpg

Common as frikkin' dirt. Happens on the tops too.
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Old 05-15-18, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post


https://www.physio-pedia.com/File:Cy...nvolvement.jpg

Common as frikkin' dirt. Happens on the tops too.
Well his graphic helps me understand why my hand is so messed up. I broke the base of my 5th metacarpal, and dislocated the top two knuckles in my ringer finger and the bottom 2 in my pinky finger. Its been a year and i still get all kinds of swelling and tingling feelings. I actually just switched my bike seat to put me in a more aggressive posture, somehow being bent more forward puts my wrists at a better bend and Im holding more weight with my back. Its helped my comfort level when riding.
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Old 05-15-18, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
Start with figuring out why this happened. Could be something as simple as not changing your hand position enough.
May even be related to your gloves ? Notice any tightness that maybe limiting circulation ? I try to not let this occur between the finger separation areas.

Wear gloves with padding in the area of the Guyon's Canal. Slane et al (2011) has shown that wearing gloves can reduce the pressure on the ulnar nerve by 10 to 28 percent.

Last edited by joesch; 05-15-18 at 06:32 AM. Reason: advice
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Old 05-15-18, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post


https://www.physio-pedia.com/File:Cy...nvolvement.jpg


Common as frikkin' dirt. Happens on the tops too.
This may also be helpful https://www.active.com/cycling/artic...yclist-s-palsy7 Ways to Prevent and Treat Cyclist's Palsy

Last edited by joesch; 05-15-18 at 06:26 AM. Reason: title add 7 Ways to Prevent and Treat Cyclist's Palsy
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Old 05-15-18, 06:25 AM
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Im sure several wont like it, but this just doesnt happen on a recumbent. You dont need gloves either, because there is simply no pressure on the hands.
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Old 05-15-18, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Im sure several wont like it, but this just doesnt happen on a recumbent. You dont need gloves either, because there is simply no pressure on the hands.
I don't think anyone "won't like it" nor begrudges anyone who rides a recumbent. But not everyone chooses to do so, apparently that includes the OP. So there's really nothing to "not like" about your comment, but, with all due respect, it simply isn't relevant to the OP's issue.

The Ulnar nerve passes through the Cubital Tunnel which is up at the elbow. Ever bumped your "funny bone"? That's bumping the Ulnar nerve. The median nerve passes through the Carpal Tunnel at the wrist. Most Ulnar nerve "entrapment" happens at the elbow and less frequently at the wrist, while Median nerve entrapment happens at the wrist. However, Median nerve compression can certainly happen in the wrist or hand, such as in the illustration above. Either way, I'd focus first on hand position followed by simple bike fit issues such as saddle tilt, fore/aft position, etc. Sounds like whatever the solution, there is simply too much forward pressure being put on the hands.
I suffer with tingling hands off and on regardless what I'm doing, even sleeping. So I expect it on a bike and constantly shift hand position on the bar, and occasionally drop one arm down and shake it around to restore normalcy.
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Old 05-15-18, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Im sure several wont like it, but this just doesnt happen on a recumbent. You dont need gloves either, because there is simply no pressure on the hands.
Im personally offended and this particular problem is relatively easy to avoid with proper fitting and positioning, but, of course, youre right.
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Old 05-15-18, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by davidallenxyz View Post
So I took a too-long ride last week, went beyond my comfort levels on the bike and managed to hurt my right hand/arm.

The symptoms are consistent with some form of injury to my ulnar nerve (my ring and little fingers are both numb and/or "tingly").

I'm not asking for medical advice here - just wondering whether other riders have suffered something similar, and how long the numbness lasted?
The link joesch provided correctly diagnoses the problem. I experience it nearly every time I ride but it's worse on a mountain bike, especially when riding off-road. The worst I ever had it was after a 5 day mountain bike tour on a rigid bike. It took 6 weeks for the tingling to go away. Oddly, it got progressively better from the palm to the finger tip with the last little bit of tingling located in one small spot on my middle finger. But that was the worst it's ever been. I've been on many longer tours since and not had that length of recovery.

I would say that it is a fit issue only sometimes. Other times it's related to the way you hold the bars and especially related to vibration. Thicker padding, thicker grips or thicker gloves can alleviate it a bit. So can frequently changing your hand position. Often I find that when I start to feel the tingle, taking my hands off the bars and flex them a bit helps a lot.

Mountain bikes are still more of a problem than road bikes. I attribute that to the higher level of vibration and to the hand position. On a road bike, I ride on the hoods with the hood between my thumb and forefinger. My position for mountain biking are more like riding in the drops like the picture MoAlpha posted. You also don't have as many hand positions on a flat bar. Bar ends help but aren't perfect.
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Old 05-15-18, 08:28 AM
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Yeah, didn't mean to imply that everything can be fixed by fit and I did throw in position as a factor. The painfully hyper-abducted wrist in the figure implies a mismatch between bar and shoulder height to my eye. There is also considerable variation in susceptibility to pressure palsies in the healthy population.

I've had nerve problems in the hands and my fit and form are simply impeccable.

Last edited by MoAlpha; 05-15-18 at 08:34 AM.
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