Classic RSI territory?


Well-Known Member
A few weeks ago I noticed that the index & forefinger on my right hand were a bit stiff and creaky. Thought perhaps it might be a touch of arthritis.

The doc asked me if I was doing anything repetitive as he suspected RSI
I couldn’t think of anything until a few days later it suddenly clicked… shifting the rear derailleur.

I’ve since calculated that, as a bit of a gear junky, I’m changing gear on average once every 250 metres, that’s a 100 times a hour and this time of year I’m cycling about 2 hours a day. That’s 200 times per day, 1400 per week, 5600 per month. And much, much more if I’m touring! Classic RSI territory?

I have managed to cut down my gear changing a bit (harder than you might think) and I try to position my hand differently but it’s still an on going problem.

Something that occurred to me, although it’s really one for the ‘Know How’ forum, is whether is possible to switch over the derailleur cables, so that the rear derailleur operates from the left hand shifter and the front from the right, thus giving the right a bit of a break for a few months.

Just wondered if any one else has had similar issues and found any solutions.


Redvers said:
possible to switch over the derailleur cables, so that the rear derailleur operates from the left hand shifter and the front from the right
You can, but it's a bit of a faff; and some levers such as my Campags have different ratchets left and right, because the rear derailleur is indexed. Other solutions, depending on your bike, might be downtube or bar-end shifters.

Obviously they are your fingers and you may have arhtritis elsewhere, but I would be utterly astonished if flicking your changers - even as often as you do - could cause RSI. IME your average GP knows distressingly little about structural malfunctions as opposed to infections. I would take that problem to my physio, not my GP.


Cycling in the sun
Would it be worth seeing an osteopath...? My sister is one and when I was having problems in one of my fingers ... numbness on my second finger, she did a couple of different treatments on me to treat both the hand and my shoulders. She doesn't live close enough to have treated me on separate occasions to have isolated where the problem was - but it surprised me that problems at your shoulder can give you problems in your hand.


Have suffered with numbness and pins and needles on same fingers and doc said it was nerve damage that would go away eventually. He also said it could be damage as high as my shoulder as summerdays says. And he was right.

However on the other hand, quite literally, I have creaky swollen thumb and forefinger, which he has said is arthritic. Said there is nothing I can do; some people get it, some are genetically pre-disposed (me) and some don't. No treatment available.


Well-Known Member
Thanks for that Guys.

Getting a Physio or Osteopath to pin down more accurately what the problem is sounds like good advice. It might just be tired fingers:wacko:

The average gear change 4 times a kilometre sounds like a lot I know but I have been quietly observing a couple of cycling buddies and their gear change practise seems to be very much the same.

I used a nice fixie for 6 months in München a few years back and loved it, ideal in the city but believe me they are not right for Guernsey. We have a very odd cycling environment here not to mention some punishing hills. Also I’m doing short lightweight tours to France as often as I can so it really has to be a road bike.


Ride It Like You Stole It!
South Manchester
Could also be sign of carpel tunnel syndrone - putting too much pressure on your ulnar nerve at your wrist/hand junction. - Are you wearing decent gloves ?

PS can backup finger/arm pain due to a shoulder injury - this is what I have following my accident 18 months ago - constant aches and mild numbness in arm and hand.

See if your GP will refer you to a specialist. Depending upon how bad it is they can do EMG tests to check your nerve responses
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