Cubital tunnel syndrome, also known as ulnar neuropathy, is caused by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve, which passes close to the skin’s surface in the area of the elbow commonly referred to as the “funny bone”. Cubital tunnel syndrome is not as well known as it’s relative (carpal tunnel syndrome) however it also can cause severe pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the hands and arms.
There are five different sites in this region that can cause compression of the nerve in the Cubital Tunnel. As the nerve becomes compressed or entrapped, it produces pain, discomfort, numbness, and decreased hand strength.
Most people are familiar with the odd sensations felt when accidentally bumping this area, as brief numbness, tingling and shooting pain occur. Similar symptoms are experienced in Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, but they are experienced on a chronic level. Symptoms are most intense along the ulnar (inside) aspect of the forearm, often extending down into the ring and small fingers.
Cubital tunnel syndrome often can be managed conservatively, especially if electromyography reveals that there is minimal pressure on the ulnar nerve.
Mild cases of cubital tunnel syndrome often respond to physical therapies such as:
In cases where splinting doesn’t help or nerve compression is more severe, about 85% of patients respond to some form of surgery to release pressure on the ulnar nerve. These include surgeries that:
If you exhibit symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, the Physicians and staff here at TOCA are here to help! Nerve testing may be prescribed to determine your level of compression . Your physician may also prescribe arm therapy to help alleviate the pain and improve function. Based on the severity of the condition, splinting, specific exercises, modalities, and other treatments can be initiated to assist in gliding the ulnar nerve and reducing compression to the area. More severe cases may require surgery to reduce pressure on the affected nerve.
For more information or to schedule an appointment call 602-277-6211.
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