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Hand pain and strength loss.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2003 9:28 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Hand pain and strength loss. Reply with quote


Since a 60 mile ride about 1 1/2 weeks ago, I have experienced a lack of strength in my left hand. There was some tingling during the ride. Even days later I was experiencing a lack of strength when I used a "pincher" type of movement. I can grasp but don't have a lot of strength while holding it. If the object must be held firmly or there is a pull then I can resist only a very small force. It is difficult to touch thumb to little and ring finger but I can make contact. There is no pain. The right hand is unaffected. After the ride this weekend, I do not notice that it is worse but it is not better. I purchased and used a new, different pair of gloves for this past weekend. The padding is similar but it is broader across the palm and back of the hand.

Even during the ride there was an apparent loss of strength. I had difficulty in shifting with my left hand during the last ten miles.

I have a relatively new Trek. I did not experience this sensation with my old bike, even when riding similiar mileage. My right hand is stronger but my left hand does get used a lot in other activities so I don't think it is significantly stronger. This weakness is a concern as it does affect my work.

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

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The Bike Doc

Joined: 08 May 2003
Posts: 1371
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2003 4:58 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote


You have what sounds consistent with carpal tunnel syndrome. The weakness you describe is in the muscle group supplied by the median nerve that goes to the thumb, index and part of the middle finger. The median nerve passes through a tunnel formed by the carpal (wrist) bones and the fibrous sheeth that spans the top of the bones. Excess flexion or extension of the wrist especially with weight bearing can aggrivate carpal tunnel syndrome, the very thing that happened on you long bike ride.

Do see a specialist immediately (a hand or orhthopedic surgeon). Once muscle weakness sets in, irriversable nerve damage may have developed. It can get progressively worse if not treated aggressively early.

Lay off the conventional bike for awhile until you get the problem corrected. You can ride a recumbent bike without aggrivating the carpal tunnel syndrome provided you ride one with trigger or bar end shifters but not twist shifters as the repetitive twisting can aggrivate the carpal tunnel syntrome. See my response on hand tingling discussion below for more information on recumbents and links.

Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc
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