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Staying Healthy on the Road Medical info, e.g. malaria, vaccinations, travel medical tips, medical insurance, where to find a doctor.
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Anne Knoedler, Floating, Kolyma River, Russia.



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  • 2 Post By mollydog
  • 1 Post By markharf
  • 2 Post By Donmanolo
  • 3 Post By Bill Ryder
  • 1 Post By Pongo

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  #1  
Old 12 Sep 2014
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Numb Fingers

Hello all, I am new to the site and love it. I recently started riding again after a several year layoff. After riding about 20 minutes, my right hand fingers start to tingle. I move them around and try new positions on the throttle, relax my shoulders, but it doesn't help. After I get off the bike, it takes about a minute or two to go away.
Any ideas?
Thanks in advance,
Espo
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  #2  
Old 12 Sep 2014
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Common problem. Riders can have variations on numbness in the hands. A few things can affect this condition, different for everyone. Here are a few solutions I've found over the years:

One important thing is hand/wrist angle when you're holding onto the grips. If you've got a lot of bend in your wrist, this can cause numbness. Change bars or move bars to reduce angle from hand to wrist. Should be as FLAT as possible ... no bend. Adjusting control levers can help too.

Vibrations can also cause numbness. Gloves with more palm padding or fatter rubber grips can both help.

The last thing ... and most difficult to figure out ... is the rider's condition. Being very well hydrated and taking plenty of vitamins (COQ10, Potassium, good multi vitamin) can help with numbness, cramps and such. Also, breathing really helps too. YES! Long deep breaths.

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  #3  
Old 12 Sep 2014
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I've long had hand and finger numbness in lots of situations. It's common among people who, like myself, worked for years with power tools, particularly in cold weather. I figured it was one more middle-aged body-failure annoyance, and I carried on doing whatever I wanted to do.

Problem. It turned out that at least some of my hand and finger numbness were related to nerve root compression in my cervical (neck) spine. One day I woke up with 2/3 of the strength in my right bicep and deltoid muscles gone, and it's gotten worse since then despite physical therapy and a whole elaborate mess of nerve conduction testing, scans, and neurological consults. The issue appears to be progressive and permanent, and it's remarkably unpleasant.

Moral of the story: don't settle for easy, glib explanations. Sometimes numbness represents nothing more serious than what happens to everyone from time to time; sometimes it's your advanced warning of more debilitating problems which can be prevented if you catch them in time. Have it checked out--this is particularly important given your description of a change from your earlier experience. Learn what to watch out for, and stay alert for further changes.

Hope that's helpful, not alarmist.

Mark
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Old 12 Sep 2014
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I reached the point where long motorway days were completely impossible because of the throttle position and the angle of my wrist over a long period of time. ( tingling and numbness in my right hand after about 30 minutes riding, particularly in cold weather)

Fixing up the throttle mechanism on my old Airhead helped quite a lot though, but in my case this little thing solved the problem completely, for just over 2 euros, once I found the correct angle at which to place it.... it's basically just a chinese knockoff of a "crampbuster", and does the job quite well.

It can be left on the handgrip and ignored until it is needed, it took a little bit of getting used to at the very beginning, but now I don't notice it's there anymore. It's very comforting to be able to keep the throttle open with the palm of my hand, relaxing my fingers completely, braking isn't affected, and neither is throttle return.

Electric Motorcycle Handlebar Refueling Aid Throttle Booster - US$2.99
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  #5  
Old 12 Sep 2014
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Numbness in hands, wrists, arms can be evidence of more serious issues. Carpal Tunnel is one I had experience with. (still do)
I was a Boom operator (movie sound) 15 years ... that job really takes a toll on wrists (nerves, tendons). Many Boom ops get Carpal Tunnel syndrome ... well know in this job.

I went through the whole med system (good insurance back then) and had many tests and scans to determine if I did have Carpal Tunnel and how bad it was. Also did research following those who'd had Carpal Tunnel surgeries. For many, probably half ... it DID NOT solve the problem and in some cases weakened the person or made things worse.

In my case they determined it was not too far advanced. Also, one of the Doctors I consulted with admitted that Carpal Tunnel surgery may not solve the issues, recommended against it, but suggested I NOT do that sort of work anymore.

Because of this I did get numbness when riding. I also had severe "arm pump" problems during my AMA Enduro race career. I learned from a few AA Pro rider friends how they dealt with arm pump.

My 1st post above outlines their methods and the ones I used. Turns out doing all that also helps with numb hands. Funnily enough, one of the dumbest sounding, simplest and free techniques is one of the BEST! Stand up on the bike .... and B R E A T H !!!
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  #6  
Old 13 Sep 2014
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Numb Fingers

I want to thank everyone who replied to my post. It's good to know I am not alone with this problem. I was an auto technician for 30 years so that may have something to do with it.
I will continue to ride and try the different things that were suggested.
Again, thank you for your help.
Espo
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  #7  
Old 15 Sep 2014
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After working in motorcycle shops for 35 years I have seen people come and go from the sport due to aliments such as numb fingers and other joint problems.
My advice is to not be afraid to do major changes to the bike setup to make it less stressful for your body. Different bars which cause less pressure on the wrists and even a big comfortable windshield that takes away the pressure of holding on at speed are a couple of doable things. Cost too much money you say? Medical treatments cost a lot more and just the ability to ride in comfort for longer periods of time is priceless.
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  #8  
Old 15 Sep 2014
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I had the same problem, My hands would tingle and then go extremely numb after only 15 minutes! especially on the motorway

I adjusted my handlebar angle down a little. Now I find If I relax my shoulders and drop my elbows down and in a bit. I can ride all day without problem

Hope this helps.
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  #9  
Old 2 Oct 2014
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I have had this problem on and off, but just had a serious episode that turned very painful. I just finished the Trans America Trail on a 400cc single. First night I had tingling in both hands. After the days piled up the tingling became numbness during the night and one hand especially had no sensation of touch. By the time I got packed up it was ok, but I had tingling down my back even into my shoulder blades. Then I started waking up with really intense pains in my palms that radiated up to my elbows. I have a pretty high pain threshold but I was writhing in pain for ten minutes or so pretty regularly.

I got back a week ago and just saw my long time chiropractor who said I was very tight. After a lot of cracking he told me to go to a massage therapist, which I did two days later (today). After the chiro treatment last night was the first night my numbness didn't wake me up. The massage therapist said I was still extremely tight, so I hope I get even more relief.

Moral is that you can accelerate recovery with a quality chiropractor. I am feeling much better before I leave on a 5 day road trip tomorrow.
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  #10  
Old 2 Dec 2014
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hand/wrist stretching exercises will help if the nerve restriction is at the wrist but not if the problem is in your neck...only chiropractors or osteopaths can help provide relief if that is the case.
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  #11  
Old 3 Dec 2014
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The OP suggested tingling came first.Tingling is a sure sign of restricted circulation. First thing to check is that your clothes and gloves are not too tight, especially at pinch points. Wrists are important, but the one which gives most issues is at the front of the shoulder around the arm joint. If you are wearing a lot of clothes under your jacket or the jacket has at tight set in sleeve, as soon as you are sitting in the riding position (arms forward) the main veins can become very compressed by the armhole seam. The result is felt at the extremity in the fingers.

Having spent a good deal of my early career in the rag trade, I know how tight cut some outer garments are round the scye ( opening for sleeve) of an ''inset'' sleeve. The best design of an outer jacket is a ''raglan'' sleeve, where the seam goes across the shoulder near the neck, it allows for a lot more movement and comfort.
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  #12  
Old 4 Dec 2014
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Loss of feeling,tingling or burning pains in the arms or in the hands - i agree with Markharf that it can indeed in many cases be the onset of problems in the neck area - often started by damage, wear and tear and very often bad posture - which makes this much worse. (if you do not think your posture is bad try going to a physio, yoga or pilates specialist who will quickly assess you for this and it really makes a huge difference. The weight loading on the spine through bad posture is massive and can cause huge problems. All of this can be made worse when riding a bike - both through posture and tension.

A good physio and maybe some light pilates exercises may help but in my case - where it was chronic and disabling after an injury losing the use of one arm to nerve compression in the spine in the end - i underwent spinal surgery after ten years of ever increasing problems. ( I now have spinal fusion both in my neck and lumbar region (top and bottom of spine) and can now ride (on the road) a bike again. I also have full use of the arm and hand with no pain or tingling with some minor limitations to what i can do so as not to aggrevate the repair.

I would say along with religiously doing pilates exercise to keep the remaining area of spine mobile i have largely recovered and have very few problems providing i am sensible about what i am doing.

Don't let it get to that sort it early if you can.

Pongo is right that restrictive clothing also makes a difference but i would check out the medical side if this is a recent change. - posture, exercise and then if it gets worse a consider talking with a phyio and maybe a neuro specialist.
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Old 4 Dec 2014
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Originally Posted by Jake View Post
.....i underwent spinal surgery after ten years of ever increasing problems. ( I now have spinal fusion both in my neck and lumbar region (top and bottom of spine) and can now ride (on the road) a bike again. I also have full use of the arm and hand with no pain or tingling with some minor limitations to what i can do so as not to aggrevate the repair.....
This is very encouraging--at least from my end--since I'm looking at similar surgery very soon. Can you say anything about the recovery/rehabilitation process? For example, how long did it take you to get back to activity, and what helped you get there? And did you regain function to some degree? I've been pretty depressed about the prospect of never again being able to do simple stuff with my right arm, like hoist a little daypack or bag of groceries.

To anyone else reading this: I've always been the kind of guy who blows off suggestions that I get professional medical attention for every little malady. Most of the time that works, because most stuff gets better on its own. In this case it didn't work for me. Medical care is often ineffective, awkward to arrange, expensive and/or ridiculously undignified....but there are times when you really don't want to mess around and delay.

Mark
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Old 4 Dec 2014
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Hi Mark I will send you a e mail with my e mail as the medical history is a bit convoluted to lay out here but putting it simply its the best thing i ever did to get my life back. Jake.
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  #15  
Old 5 Dec 2014
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...only chiropractors or osteopaths can help provide relief if that is the case.
I think you are forgetting Physiotherapists - they are the recognized professionals within the UK system. I have used chiropractors and osteopaths - and have had some success short term helping with pain relief - but for me it was a physio who actually identified / suspected the problem to be far more serious than either of the other had said (in fact they had misdiagnosed the issue all together as had some other NHS health professionals) the private physio however told me to seek immeadiate advice and expertise from a specialist neurosurgeon. Had i only carried on with the osteopath or chiropractor - it would not be far out of order to say that i would now be facing life in a wheelchair with little or no use of my body from the neck down.

Jake.
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