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Cycling Pain and Injuries

Diagnosis, treat and prevent the most common cycling pain and injuries

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Updated September 04, 2013

Cycling is a great, low-impact way to stay fit, but it isn’t without risk of pain and injury. Most cycling pain occurs due to poor bike fit or improper riding technique. It’s important to have your bike adjusted to your body because Proper Bike Fit Can Prevent Pain and Injury.

One of the most serious of all bike injuries is a head injury. Wearing a bike helmet is recommended to reduce the risk of a serious head injury while biking. It is also important to recognize and treat the early warning signs of an injury.

If you do develop an ache, pain or injury while cycling, it is likely to be among the following:

Knee Pain
Knee pain is extremely common in cyclists. In order to treat the cause of the pain, it is important to have an evaluation and proper diagnosis. Common reasons for knee pain in athletes include the following.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
This term usually refers to pain under and around the knee cap It is also called "Runner's Knee."

Chondromalacia
This term refers to softening and deterioration of the underside of the kneecap. In young athletes this is typically an injury from trauma, overuse, poor alignment of the knee joint, or muscle imbalance. This leads to friction and rubbing under the kneecap the results damage to the surface of the cartilage. The sensation is a dull pain around or under the kneecap that worsens when walking down stairs or hills, climbing stair other weight bearing activity.

Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in athletes. It is a degenerative disease that results in a gradual wearing away of joint cartilage. Typical symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain, swelling, and a decrease in the range of motion of the knee. Morning stiffness that decreases with motion is also common.

Abrasions and Road Rash
Injuries that result from a fall on a hard surface that causes outer layers of skin to rub off.

Hand Numbness / Ulnar Neuropathy
This is experienced as pain and numbness of the small and ring finger and is associated with pressure on the handlebars for long periods of time.

Muscle Cramps
A cramp is a sudden, tight and intense pain caused by a muscle locked in spasm. You can also recognize a muscle cramp as an involuntary and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax.

Sprains and Strains
These are acute injuries that vary in severity but usually result in pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of the ability to move and use the joint.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome
IT band friction syndrome often results in knee pain that is generally felt on the outside (lateral) aspect of the knee or lower.

Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness
Description: Muscle pain, stiffness or soreness that occurs 24-48 hours after unaccustomed, or particularly intense exercise.

Clavicle Fractured (Broken Shoulder)
Description: A shoulder fracture typically refers to a total or partial break to either the clavicle (collar bone) or the neck of the humerus (arm bone). It generally is from an impact injury, such as a fall or blow to the shoulder

Concussion
Description: A concussion is typically caused by a severe head trauma where the brain moves violently within the skull so that brain cells all fire at once, much like a seizure.

External Iliac Arteriopathy - An Uncommon Cause of Leg Pain in Cyclists
Could cycling at a high intensity really damage the leg arteries? It sounds unlikely, but some elite cyclists have experienced arteriopathy, or damage to the arteries of the pelvis, groin or lower leg.

Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis is a chronic injury that occurs primarily from overuse. It tends to come on gradually over time until pain is constant and exercise or activity too painful to continue. Achilles tendonitis is a painful condition of the tendon in the back of the ankle. Left untreated, Achilles tendonitis can lead to an increased risk of Achilles tendon rupture.

Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel and usually defined by pain during the first steps of the morning

Arch Pain
Arch pain is a common foot complaint. Arch pain, also sometimes called a strain, often causes inflammation and a burning sensation under the arch of the foot. Treatment of arch pain often consists of adaptive footwear and inserts.

Blisters
Blisters are fluid-filled sacks on the surface of the skin that commonly occurs on the hands, or the feet.

Piriformis Syndrome
If the piriformis muscle becomes tight or cramps it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause gluteal (or buttock) pain or sciatica.

Overtraining Syndrome
Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond the body's ability to recover.

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