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Carpal Tunnel advise

Old 08-01-19, 07:17 AM
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Carpal Tunnel advise

I know few of you out there are doctors, but hopefully you slept at a Holiday Inn last night and can offer some advise based upon personal experience After the Trans Am Bike Race, I was left with Carpal Tunnel symptoms in my right hand. Not surprising, as many others who have rode, experienced those symptoms also. It is now a month later, and nothing has changed. Work (Farming) can flare it up. Regular riding where I can be in the aeros is ok. Last week I rode with a group on gravel. Big mistake. I will probably be heading to the Dr., but all I have read from TA riders says it eventually goes away. What has worked or not worked for you? Thoughts?
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Old 08-01-19, 08:17 AM
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My previous carpal tunnel issues were caused by way too much keyboard work for my job. I had to wear splints that I bought from an medical supply store on my wrists for months. My symptoms eventually went away but it took a long time. One month is not long enough for the trauma cause by the TA to resolve IMHO.
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Old 08-01-19, 12:38 PM
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I got finger numbness on last year's 1200k in August and this year's 1000k. The 1000k was worse. I'm not positive the numbness from the 1200k has actually gone away, but it is being masked by the new problems. It doesn't really concern me too much, even though it is possible that it will be permanent.

Do your symptoms include something other than numbness?
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Old 08-01-19, 01:12 PM
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My issues riding aren't so much carpal tunnel (though I do see it at the keyboard) but are greatly affected by seemingly small differences in handlebar and brake lever setup. I have taken to rotating my (drop) handlebars down so the drop flats are parallel to the ground or even past that and sliding the brake levers down also (so the end of the levers extend well below a ruler held to the drop flat. Looks extreme but my hands love 'em. With the setup more conventional I get numbness in my hands and fingers, it aggravates the thumb I broke 40 years ago and I see pain, both riding and after.

Something to try. Take off the bar tape and go for a ride or rides with all the wrenches to adjust handlebars and brake levers. Don't tape the bare until you know their "right". You might even want to look into different bars and brake levers. (Here is a place where I think brifters are a curse. It now costs hundreds of dollars to change one of the key contact/fit points on the bike.)

Ben
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Old 08-01-19, 01:48 PM
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Carpal tunnel (index and middle fingers) or ulnar nerve (ring and little fingers)?
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Old 08-01-19, 02:08 PM
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carpal tunnel goes away? I've read it only gets worse. Wifey had "open" release surgery & that fixed it. easy peasy & quick. but, there's no guarantee it won't come back
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Old 08-01-19, 03:37 PM
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I don't think it's quite the same thing as a repetitive use scenario. Cyclists tend to compress the nerves at the carpal tunnel or more likely the ulnar tunnel. It generally gets better (as the nerves are regenerated?) There was a thread here about "cyclists palsy," which is what I think the OP is talking about.
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Old 08-01-19, 07:39 PM
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I had really awful bout with carpal tunnel issues a month ago. I had spent many days working with my hands all day long, preparing to move from one house to another, then building a fence at the new place, ripping out poison ivy.... I don't even remember exactly what I was doing to my hands. Anyway, they'd start hurting at night, and the pain would wake me up.

Once the move was over, my hands started to recover. Ten days later I rode the LOL 1000km and my hands were fine for the whole ride. A couple weeks later now, I'm mostly over it. My two my outside fingers are a little tingly still, but the pain doesn't come back at night.

I've had this for years, and I don't think it's gotten any worse over time, and I can manage it by learning what works and what's not so good. Integrated brake and shifter, for example, don't work at all for me. Bar end shifter and down tube shifter are fine.

Last edited by rhm; 08-01-19 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 08-01-19, 07:51 PM
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Donít think nerves can actually regenerate
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Old 08-01-19, 08:26 PM
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they do regenerate, it causes some problems. For example, it's what makes morton's neuroma continue to get worse
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Old 08-01-19, 10:54 PM
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I've found 3 things which help me:

1) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Exercises
2) Sleeping with my hands flat, beneath my pillow, always.
3) Gym work with light weights. The best thing I've used was a dowel ~1-1/4" D X 18", with a line attached to it which had a 5 lb. weight on the end. The dowel was about shoulder height with crude bearings at either end. One winds the weight up from the floor and back down with the hands until the muscles get tired. IIRC, I did that every other day. Easy rig to build for oneself.

Also see:
https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycl...l#post12953035

Like anything else on the bike, it's about position, strength, conditioning, stretching, and recovery.

I actually went to the doctor about it before the self-fix. The doctor wanted to put me on disability, didn't think anything could be done with my hands other than surgery.
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Old 08-01-19, 11:21 PM
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To the OP. There are a lot of bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves associated with the wrists and hands. Damage from use, overuse and trauma can be acute and repairable with isolation and rest or chronic and degenerative but still reducible with intervention in most cases with surgery and therapy. Each case will be different. But you cannot keep doing what led to the condition and not expect the condition to recur and likely worsen.

Simple things that may help reduce hand tingling and numbness: Figure out how to cycle with a looser grip on the bars and less weight on your hands (no death gripping, reevaluate and adjust body position and bike fit). Figure out how to lesson the road vibration and shock felt in your hands (gel padding, thicker bar tape, gel padded gloves, wider tires / lower tire pressure, carbon bars, Trek buzz-kills (if you can still find any)). Vary your hand position frequently during rides. Take a break, get off your bike, and let your hands recover occasionally. Basically try any and everything you can think of that may reduce impact and fatigue in your hands. These are all things that have helped me.

Good luck!
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Old 08-02-19, 02:33 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
carpal tunnel goes away? I've read it only gets worse. Wifey had "open" release surgery & that fixed it. easy peasy & quick. but, there's no guarantee it won't come back
Well a headache can go away unless its caused by a tumor. I suppose it depends on the degree and what caused the condition. Mine comes and goes. I'm at my keyboard all day sitting in a constricted position. Once I finally admitted I needed a decent chair and switched form a kitchen chair to a real office chair and presto! Virtual total relief from the pain.
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Old 08-02-19, 02:40 AM
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Originally Posted by gif4445 View Post
I know few of you out there are doctors, but hopefully you slept at a Holiday Inn last night and can offer some advise based upon personal experience After the Trans Am Bike Race, I was left with Carpal Tunnel symptoms in my right hand. Not surprising, as many others who have rode, experienced those symptoms also. It is now a month later, and nothing has changed. Work (Farming) can flare it up. Regular riding where I can be in the aeros is ok. Last week I rode with a group on gravel. Big mistake. I will probably be heading to the Dr., but all I have read from TA riders says it eventually goes away. What has worked or not worked for you? Thoughts?

Where does it actually hurt or where is it numb? Specifically.
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Old 08-02-19, 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I've found 3 things which help me:..................I actually went to the doctor about it before the self-fix. The doctor wanted to put me on disability, didn't think anything could be done with my hands other than surgery.
ONLY 1 thing helped me = OPEN SURGERY

You can try all the "SELF HELP" ideas that are found on the net and if nothing works a visit to the DR. for tests --- https://my.clevelandclinic.org/healt...osis-and-tests
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Old 08-02-19, 04:11 AM
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I'm a Best Western man my self, with a history of doing production wood work. Here's my 2 cents. Sleeping with a wrist brace to keep your wrist straight seems to help with recovery from the days abuse. I do a Tabala drummers wrist exercise which I couldn't find on the web but its a full roll range of motion spin/rotation with both wrists in constant contact. I also have a gyro spinner ball that seems to make a difference for wrist , elbow and shoulder recovery. I just did a 300 mile week so I'm feeling it in the wrists a bit myself.
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Old 08-02-19, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Where does it actually hurt or where is it numb? Specifically.
Numbness in the thumb and index finger. Loss of strength.
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Old 08-02-19, 07:34 AM
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I have read on this forum somewhere that downtube shifters instead of the STI will help since the rider is forced to move hands to shift.

On long rides 1000 km or above I also have numb hands that take usually 6 months to go away. I try to alternate riding without gloves and use two of even three pair of gloves for long distance. It helped but I still had the numbness. I use Campy shifters and still trying to figure out the fit of the handlebars.
As mentioned above by 79pmooney rotating the bars forward helps, but I never went extreme(maybe I should)- my drops are parallel to the ground. I think increasing the reach will lower the pressure on the hands, but put more stain on the upper back, so there must be a compromise somewhere. I am still working on it...too bad I have to do a very long ride at least 600 km + to see if it works.
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Old 08-02-19, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrey View Post
I have read on this forum somewhere that downtube shifters instead of the STI will help since the rider is forced to move hands to shift.
...
That was probably me, that wrote that.

Down tube shifter or bar end shifters are both good for my hands. STI and Ergo, not so much.

Then again, I have not tried all the STI shifters ever made, and the damage I've done to my hands is not necessarily the same as other people.
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Old 08-03-19, 02:05 AM
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I only have the symptoms in my right hand. Unless I am wrong I think the main cause, besides the 4200 miles in 28 days, is the fact that most of my shifting is done with the right hand. I have double wrapped handlebars, a Specialized Diverge with future shock and 32mm tires, so the ride was pretty plush. I do spend a good amount of time in the aeros also. Just added a brace to the hand to limit movement, started taking anti-inflammates regularly and plan to stay off the bike. I'll give it a couple weeks and if it hasn't settled down, I will head to the doc.
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Old 08-03-19, 05:37 AM
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Since you do seem to have compressed the nerve near the carpal tunnel, it's possible you had too much padding and it impinged on your nerve. If you look at most cycling gloves, they have an absence of padding right over where the nerve passes through the pad of your palm. But, in support of the shifting idea, I can see how you would put your hand on the side of the handlebars (resting on the nerve) so you can shift more readily. I'm going to try to pay more attention to this since I would rather not have my issues get worse.
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Old 08-03-19, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Since you do seem to have compressed the nerve near the carpal tunnel, it's possible you had too much padding and it impinged on your nerve. If you look at most cycling gloves, they have an absence of padding right over where the nerve passes through the pad of your palm. But, in support of the shifting idea, I can see how you would put your hand on the side of the handlebars (resting on the nerve) so you can shift more readily. I'm going to try to pay more attention to this since I would rather not have my issues get worse.
You raise some good questions. I came away from that ride with big calluses on the lower pads of both hands. My first thought was inadequate padding in the gloves. Over the course of the last month it is flaking off, most of the way up the outside pad. Actually more on the left (less affected) hand. Also, I wouldn't doubt that I compromised the right hand by just defaulting to a more shift-ready position. Probably time to take a closer look at hand position, padding and types of gloves.

Before the race, I briefly considered electronic shifting. My decision to say no was made because 1) I have never had a hand problem, 2) More technology that can screw up a ride, and 3) I was told that it was currently incompatible with my long cage derailleur. I intend to take a closer look, as I don't think I am done with these type of races.
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Old 08-03-19, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Sapperc View Post
To the OP. There are a lot of bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves associated with the wrists and hands. Damage from use, overuse and trauma can be acute and repairable with isolation and rest or chronic and degenerative but still reducible with intervention in most cases with surgery and therapy. Each case will be different. But you cannot keep doing what led to the condition and not expect the condition to recur and likely worsen.

Simple things that may help reduce hand tingling and numbness: Figure out how to cycle with a looser grip on the bars and less weight on your hands (no death gripping, reevaluate and adjust body position and bike fit). Figure out how to lesson the road vibration and shock felt in your hands (gel padding, thicker bar tape, gel padded gloves, wider tires / lower tire pressure, carbon bars, Trek buzz-kills (if you can still find any)). Vary your hand position frequently during rides. Take a break, get off your bike, and let your hands recover occasionally. Basically try any and everything you can think of that may reduce impact and fatigue in your hands. These are all things that have helped me.

Good luck!
Thanks for your input. Those are all good things to look at. The truth of the matter is I didn't have a problem until around mile 3500 or so. So I feel pretty good about my bike setup. The Specialized Diverge with future shock, double HB wrap and 32mm tires is a great ride. I'm still thinking it is the physical act of shifting that did it. It only affected my right hand, the primary shifting hand. Someone said that you average 5000 shifts per day. Take that times 28 days and it wouldn't surprise me if that is the culprit.
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Old 08-03-19, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I've found 3 things which help me:

1) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Exercises
2) Sleeping with my hands flat, beneath my pillow, always.
3) Gym work with light weights. The best thing I've used was a dowel ~1-1/4" D X 18", with a line attached to it which had a 5 lb. weight on the end. The dowel was about shoulder height with crude bearings at either end. One winds the weight up from the floor and back down with the hands until the muscles get tired. IIRC, I did that every other day. Easy rig to build for oneself.

Also see:
https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycl...l#post12953035

Like anything else on the bike, it's about position, strength, conditioning, stretching, and recovery.

I actually went to the doctor about it before the self-fix. The doctor wanted to put me on disability, didn't think anything could be done with my hands other than surgery.
Thank you for the suggestions. If and when I sign up for another long race, I will have to build this type of conditioning into my training. A full month past the finish and this is the only body part that is not back to normal.
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Old 08-03-19, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by gif4445 View Post
Thank you for the suggestions. If and when I sign up for another long race, I will have to build this type of conditioning into my training. A full month past the finish and this is the only body part that is not back to normal.
You might start working them now. I'm a strong believer in the ability of the right exercise to stimulate recovery. Trick of course is figuring out what that is. I'd mess around, see what seems to work. I've never found rest to be much help.
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