Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Diagnosis PT 2...

I had another medical appointment today to get a second opinion on my injured hand. Happily the assessment of my chiropractor, my online research and today's diagnosis are all in agreement. Although I think medical professionals are great I tend to want to see a convergence of a number of independent assessments before I get that warm fuzzy feeling about what's going on.

Interestingly here is what seems to have happened:
  • I rested my left elbow on the door armrest for 40+hrs of driving and rough roads on the way up north. This irritated the bursa in my left elbow. By itself this didn't manifest any symptoms.
  • Riding on the rough muddy Dempster compressed my ulnar nerve in the left hand. This may have been aggravated by the size and padding offered by the grip on my bars as well as the fact I don't use my left hand for shifting or grabbing water bottles as I do with my right hand.
  • The vibration/shock from the riding also irritated the bursa in my left arm and it started to swell causing me acute pain in that joint, shutting down my triceps muscle in that arm as a protective measure and compressing my ulnar nerve near the elbow.
  • Some other factors that may have played a part were weight loss removing fatty tissue protecting my joints [I lost quite a bit of weight on this tour] and how I was stretching my neck on the bike [ulnar nerve passes through the left should/neck area].
The bottom line is I'll have a full recovery in the not too distant future...=-)

As far as future tours with the Big Dummy go I think I should be fine keeping the Titec H-bars with the following modifications to my touring setup/routine:
  • watch out for problems like the elbow resting on the door for 40+hrs of driving - who knew?
  • pad the H-bars well and use Ergon Grips.
  • use my left hand for grabbing water bottles so both hands get some time off the bars.
  • changing positions on the bars frequently - although I felt like I was doing this on my tour.
  • eat more calories on tour...hahaha...I'm not sure if the doctors actually suggested that or I'm just bending facts to suit my desires, but I plan on rolling with it...=-)


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your hands. I have a similar (identical?) problem. Both my chiropractor and doctor suggested I give up cycling. I have a recumbent frame on order, and had hoped to be riding it for most of this season, but it's taken longer than anticpated. I ended up riding a SR series on a fixie, and my hands really took a battering on the 600k especially. The chiropractor has done good work, but I haven't found out exactly what's causing the problem. I've tried everything on the bike, and it COULD be a position thing, but I suspect I'd suffer no matter what the bike. I'm hoping to get up to speed on the recumbent, and see how I get on during long rides next year.

Vik said...

our problem or at least provides some relief. They do offer some totally different ergonomic options for cycling. What kind of bent did you get?

My hand is feeling better and a 115km ride this weekend on my LHT didn't aggravate the situation so I'm hopeful it was just an unfortunate set of circumstances that won't reoccur - time will tell.

Anonymous said...

My problem started last year when I started riding audaxes. It was very severe on a 400k, but it did improve after a few weeks, and I managed to keep it at bay during the winter when I wasn't riding such long distances. The chiropractor worked on my neck/shoulder but a 400k followed by a 600k a couple of weeks later was a bit too much. Think it's the ulnar nerve. Fingers still a bit numb, and hands puffy and weak.

I've ordered a Rotator Pursuit titanium frameset. Never seen or ridden one, and the steering sounds a bit dodgy, but it should be light and I'm quite looking forward to getting it.