Handlebar Palsy

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by NoiseBoy

I have been suffering from quite bad handlebar palsy which shows itself without fail after an hour in the saddle and only in the left hand. Everything I have read says it happens on very long rides but i'm only on the bike for a couple of hours tops at the moment and it is so bad after about 90 mins that I am totally unable to change onto the big ring. If i attempt to sweep the shifter inwards my fingers just buckle and fold.

Is this a sign of bad bike setup? My position is nowhere near extreme with about 25mm of spacers. I would actually prefer to go lower if it wasn't for this issue. Its a genuine concern that I won't be able to brake hard in an emergency and changing hand position regularly doesn't seem to work. It then takes at least 3 days to resolve which puts me off training. It may be at the point that I need to see a specialist but thought I'd sound things out here first to save myself the hundreds of pounds in medical fees.

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by eric

I've had hand numbness.

There's many things that can cause it. In my case, the wrong gloves. I need gloves with dense padding that covers the middle of the heel of the hand. Most gloves don't pad that area on the theory that padding causes pressure on the ulnar nerve. I find that no padding is worse.

You will undoubtably be different.

With as much trouble as you are having I would see a specialist and a fitter immediately. Having to take three days off after a couple hours ride is really bad.

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by MattSoutherden

It's not necessarily the saddle to bar drop that's the problem, it could also be a number of other fit related issues such as saddle setback, reach, hood position, bar width. Or it could be a physiological problem that is causing you to sit skewed on the bike.
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jekyll man
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by jekyll man

Similar to what Eric mentioned, but my hands go numb if I use the "wrong" gloves.
My problems seem to stem from the fingers going a bit tight by the joint with the knuckle. If I feel it coming on, I start pulling the glove off a little and it relieves the numbness.

I can ride the mtb all day happily with certain gloves , yet on the road I soon get numb fingers and can't shift with the same ones..
It doesn't matter about the size of the padding either; I've got a pair of Nike tt aero gloves which are minimalistic, and they're really comfy on the road.
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by stella-azzurra

Have someone take a video of you riding from the back, front and left side during your ride outside.
Anyone with a camera phone would do it.
Then check your posture on the bike.

You can post your video clip and have some people here look at it for comment.
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by ave

I had numb hands a few years ago on rough roads with my original Deda alu bars. Switching to Easton EC90 fixed the problem.
But I'm sure there's more to it, as the same alu bar is fine on my other bike.

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by CerveloBert

Hand numbness/pain is quite often associated with incorrect gloves - or just too much weight on the hands. It took me about 3-4 different pairs of gloves before I was settled on some Pearl Izumi PRO gloves that seemed to work for rides longer than 60 kilometers.

I recently switched out my 3T Ergonova alloy handlebars to the LTD Carbon version and it has helped tremendously on the longer rides.

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by rijndael

I used to get numb hands all the time, until I found this post:
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.ph ... st12953035

I was resting the bars on the center of my palm/wrist, not on the bone toward the edge. After figuring this out, I haven't had numb hands (not induced by the cold) in years.

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by kbbpll

I thought UK has free medical? I'd go see a specialist, it sounds like you have nerve damage that you are not allowing to heal, similar to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Edit: It might help to know what else you do such as employment etc that might be contributing, or if you've had an injury in the past.

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by NoiseBoy

Healthcare is free except for a charge to see your GP. The issue is that once you get referred to a specialist the waiting time for orthopaedic clinics is something like 8 months at the moment. I work at the hospital so might be able to get in slightly earlier but it wouldn't be this side of Christmas. If I pay I could see someone on Monday. I do a moderate amount of typing for my work but not excessive, I handle a lot of paperwork but I doubt that gripping motion would cause carpal tunnel.

I found my cheap old gloves in a drawer which just have a padded palm as opposed to the super gel inserts etc. on my newer gloves. I tried them and they felt a lot better but my ride was cut short by a storm so can't be certain. When I got home I read that bikeforums post which is very informative so I will give that a go. I tend to have quite alot of pressure in the webbing between my thumb and forefinger. Hopefully a change in habit will make the difference, if not it will be time to cough up the medical fees I suppose.

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by mrfish

All comments so far seem reasonable.

But simple first step would be to put the saddle back 0.5-1cm and see if this makes a difference. In my own experience it is surprising how much difference such a small change can make.

Also I'd try doing some back extension exercises on and off the bike. On the bike a great exercise is to take your hands off the bars, put them behind your back, sit up straight then bend down to touch your nose on the stem and back up again. Obviously you need to be skilled at riding no hands and in an area with no traffic etc to do this while riding, but I found that doing this a few times as part of a warm up activated my back muscles to take the load of my torso, helping to reduce the load on the hands.

If these and the other simple suggestions above don't work, then I'd certainly not delay in contacting a doctor.

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