Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Drop bar hand position.

daverow Posts: 64
edited January 2019 in Workshop
Hi Folks,

Been a while since i've been on here so hoping the same level of expertise and advice is still around.


Have been riding bikes fairly regularly (~4k miles per year) for the last 10 years and earlier this year whilst riding around Mallorca started to feel a restriction in the movement in my wrist. It almost felt like i needed to 'crack' my wrists as some people do with their fingers. Anyway, this developed into stiffness and soreness in the thumbs and index fingers on both hands pretty much simultaneously which lead me to believe this was an early onset of an arthritic condition. I have some other conditions that make me predisposed to arthritis so thought this was the key - however, several blood tests and physio sessions later, i've been told it's CTS and RSI!?

The Problem
Given the health benefits of cycling (physical and mental) i'm reluctant to reduce my mileage due to the discomfort of CTS and pain when riding. This wouldn't be a problem but I don't do any other sports and, god forbid, I had to resort to running.

The questions is..

Does anyone have any experience of this condition and how to manage it so to continue riding without worsening the condition and being free from pain? I use a 3T bar on my winter steed with Campag levers and it's producing direct pressure at the base of my hand - i'm guessing I need to adjust this hand position to a more 'flat' hand position but any advice on what to do here, to flatten the hand position, and reduce the pressure on the base of my hands would be most welcome.

Thanks for listening folks - have had a very indulgent Xmas too so need to start getting the miles back in ASAP!

Cheers folks :-)


  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    Hi Dave,

    Sorry to hear of your CTS woes. As a starter for 10, have you looked at your bike fit to make sure you're not putting too much weight through your hands and wrists?

    Additionally, what width are your bars? Too wide and you'll (un)naturally flex your hands outwards to meet the hoods - this will put extra pressure on the area that the carpal nerve passes through (underside of the wrist).

    So check your fit and bar width. Bar width should be commensurate with your shoulder width.

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,544
    to add to the above, what mitts/gloves are you using?

    i found softer/gel padded ones cause numbness/pain after a while, due i think to the pad deforming to apply pressure on the ct area

    whereas ones with very firm padding leave the pressure on the hands' natural 'padding' either side, then i have no problem even after 5-6 hours
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • I can suffer with numbness throughout the hand if I'm riding and applying pressure to the areas of the ulnar or ct nerves for any length of time.

    To overcome it I ride with the weight spread on a line from the main joint of the fore finger to the outside back of the palm, removing all weight from the areas of the ulnar and ct nevres.
  • chrisw12
    chrisw12 Posts: 1,246
    You could try tri bars, this will mean you won’t be on your wrists for so long.
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    If your fit is right, then you won't be on your wrists even on normal drop bars.

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
  • step83
    step83 Posts: 4,170
    Echoing the above on wrist position, if you look at the position of your wrists they ideally should be flat in parallel with your forearm.
    May be worth having a bike fit and explaining the CTS issue I'm pretty certain you wont be the first person they have fitted that has this.
  • g00se
    g00se Posts: 2,221
    Just a quick addition - what's you day job? I have arthritic wrist issues (not CTS) which cause pain when changing gear (same 'clicky' wrist thing). The main cause is working at computers all day.

    The biggest help has been these:

    I run Campag levers and thought I may have to try Shimano to see if that helps. Glad to say Shimano levers hurt more so will have to stick with Campag ;)

    I'm hoping to use this as an excuse with the other half to explain away EPS some time in the future.....