Cyclists: What You Need to Know About Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome

What is Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome?

Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome (also referred to as Handlebar Palsy) is caused from compression to the distal ulnar nerve.   Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome results in faintness of ones grip, pain/tenderness in the Guyon’s canal, and possible numbness and/or tingling in the hand.  If you are a cyclist, you may want to know about Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome as it is most common in frequent bikers.  Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome is also seen in baseball catchers, hockey goalies, golf athletes, racquet sports players, and in those who practice martial arts.

Are You at Risk?

Repetitive constant pressure to the wrists brings the risk of developing ulnar tunnel syndrome.  If you are putting your wrists through recurring trauma, you may be at risk of developing Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome.  Ulnar tunnel syndrome is very common in frequent cyclists because when bike riding, cyclists often exert pressure on their wrists for elongated periods of time.  This constant exertion of pressure on the wrists causes compression of the ulnar nerve, the biggest unprotected nerve in our bodies. 

Is Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome Preventable?

Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome can be prevented by avoiding extensive pressure and trauma to the wrists.  Adding some sort of protective padding to the hands can also help to mitigate some of the extensive pressure cyclists (or other athletes) exert on their distal ulnar nerve.  If you are experiencing some of the symptoms for Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome, you may want to get it checked by your doctor.



Disclaimer:  Articles are based on real cases seen at Scottsdale Sports Medicine. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. Please consult your medical professional for individualized healthcare.

Source:  Okragly, Richard A., and Scott Fister Johnson. The 5-minute Sports Medicine Consult. By Mark D. Bracker. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011. N. pag. Print.