After experiencing considerable neck and shoulder pain/stiffness, a recent x-ray has diagnosed osteoarthritis at C5/6 plus two extra bilateral cervical ribs!
At only 32 I am concerned about how this will affect my cycling. I regularly cycle 30 miles to work and back as well as teaching five Spinning classes a week. I have lifted the height of my handlebars and now wear padded gloves out on the road. Can you offer me any advice?
Alyson Rose, email
A fair proportion of us will develop osteoarthritis in the neck over time. Unless you are experiencing pain down the arms, the presence of cervical (extra) ribs will probably be an incidental finding as 0.5 per cent of the population have this anomaly and it?s usually asymptomatic.
You need to avoid hyper-extending your neck on the bike, by adopting a more upright position. The changes you have already made are excellent and sure to help. To these I would add the following: a shorter stem, shorter top tube, as much carbon as you can afford in the frame, forks and bars in order to absorb road vibration, gel tape on handlebars with shallower drops and wider diameter tyres not maximally inflated.
Your elbows should be kept flexed, reducing vibration transfer to the neck, and your helmet should not be positioned too low or the neck is forced into hyperextension to allow you to see ahead.
Dr Andrew Meilak
Sport and exercise doctor
First-category road racer, and club doctor to Westcombe Park Rugby Club and Millwall Football Club