|The Bike Doc
Joined: 08 May 2003
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas
|Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2003 1:48 pm GMT +0000 Post subject:
Your symptoms are consistent with ulnar nerve compression. The ulnar nerve runs through the hand on the palmer, pinky side of the heal. During the long road ride with your bearing weight on the hands (which anatomically they are not designed to do) you compressed the nerve and caused loss of blood flow in the nerve, thus, the resulting numbness. How long will it last, you may already be better by now as it has been four days from your post and my reply. If you are still feeling numbness now, that is not good and you may have caused some significant nerve injury. The periperpheral nerves can regenerate (unlike the Central Nervous System nerves); they re-grow at a rate of about 1 mm/day. If you crushed the nerve enough to have effectively choked it to death, it will take about 2 weeks, at the rate of 1mm/day growth, to regenerate nerve down to your finger tips. If significant scar tissue develops, this can block the regeneration of the nerve and the numbness can be permanent. Time will provide the answer here.
How can you prevent this problem in the future? Try gloves with padding over the ulnar nerve area. Specialize Body Geometry gloves has padding specifically in this area to help prevent compression of the ulnar nerve. I have visited with individuals who found excellent relief with these gloves. They may or may not work for you depending on the anatomy of your hand.
Use bar ends on your mountain bike and switch hand positions often. Try using a set of clip on aerobars on you bike when road riding to give you additional hand positions. Raise your handle bars up some (use a riser stem or move spacers under the stem if they are on top) to decrease the amount of weight you are putting on your hands.
Consider a recumbent bike for road riding (they are lousey off road). You will completely eliminate the problem going to a recumbent. This link http://bicycling.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bikeroute.com%2FBentMedBenefits.html will take you to an article I wrote on the medical benifits of recumbents. There are several fast recumbents out there. The world land speed record for human powered vehicles is held by a streamlined recumbent 80+mph on a flat without wind assist. Much like there are different types of road bikes, racers, tourers, cruisers, hybirds etc, there are several different types of recumbent bikes to consider. Check out www.bentrideronline.com for several reviews and discussions about recumbent bikes. They have several models reviewed that you can access to their link to bikes reviewed.
Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc