Numb Hands and Cycling

numb hands when cycling - solutionDo you ever get numbness and tingling in your palms and fingers (ring and pinky) with cycling?  If so, you may be suffering from Ulnar Nerve Entrapment.  This is caused by swelling within a small canal through which the ulnar nerve travels.  Non-cyclists also get this from masses in the canal such as benign tumors.  Cyclists get this from pressure at the base of the hand opposite the thumb side.  This is made worse with increased trauma/jarring from worse road conditions.  Pain, numbness, and tingling become noticeable towards the end of a ride and usually subside with time after riding.  Numbness may continue even when not riding as the condition worsens.  Weakness in the hand only comes with severe disease.  This is different from carpal tunnel syndrome where the thumb, index finger and middle finger are involved.

The best way to treat this initially is to reduce the pressure on your hands when cycling.  Changing seat and handlebar heights may be the answer.  Aerobars that place more pressure on your forearms than your hands are also a good option.  If these things are not helpful then anti-inflammatories may be needed and usually in the prescription strength.   Injections may also be considered after an MRI.  Surgery is a later option.

Matt Evans, MD

Dr. Matt Evans Dr. Matt Evans is a sports medicine doctor practicing with Utah Valley Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. Dr. Evans offers comprehensive Sports Medicine care for athletes and non-athletes alike, and his goal is to treat the whole person without surgery, if possible.

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