Handlebar Palsy

Handlebar Palsy Cycling

Handlebar palsy is a name given to a common condition suffered by cyclists. The symptoms are caused by compression of the ulnar nerve at the wrist against the handlebar. Treating this injury is usually simple, but sometimes medical help may be needed.

Handlebar palsy symptoms

  • Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and weakness over the outside of the hand, little finger and outer half of the ring finger.
  • A feeling of clumsiness and a lack of co-ordination in the hand is often reported and pain may be present during activities requiring movement of the wrist.

Causes

Handlebar palsy is sometimes also known as ulnar neuritis (neuropathy) or ulnar nerve compression. It is caused by compression of the ulnar nerve where it passes through the wrist. From there the nerve runs into the little and ring fingers.

It is common in cyclists due to the position of the wrist and compression on the handlebars.


Treatment of handlebar palsy

  • The most important feature of treating this condition is to correct the cause of the problem. In cyclists, this may mean checking the bike set up such as the height of the saddle and handlebars and the wrist position when riding. Correcting these problems will usually stop the symptoms!
  • In cases where this does not work, seek advice from a professional sports injury therapist. They will be able to assess the injury. These symptoms could be due to compression of the nerve at any point along its course, not just at the wrist.
  • The neck may be a problem and so posture should be checked, as well as other activities which may put a strain or pressure on the nerve higher up.

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