SymptomsNumbness and tingling in the muscles of ring and little fingers and along the back and side of the hand; general weakening of the hand.
About this Condition
Ulnar neuropathy, also known as cubital tunnel syndrome, puts pressure on the ulnar nerve each time the elbow is bent, reducing the supply of blood to the nerve. This causes damage to the nerve over time. Hitting the "funny bone" pulls the ulnar nerve into the bony groove of the cubital tunnel, causing the characteristic tingling sensation in the small and ring fingers.
An injury in the region of the elbow may be the cause for the compression, such as a fracture, dislocation, direct blow or severe twisting of the elbow. Pressure on the nerve while performing jobs requiring repetitive flexing of the elbow joint throughout the day may also cause ulnar nerve compression.
The following situations, where the elbow is bent, can make the sensations of ulnar nerve compression worse: holding a telephone, resting the head on the hand, crossing the arms over the chest, curling the arm under the body at night, holding the hand on top of a steering wheel and using the computer for long periods of time.
A general weakening of the motor function of the hand may make it easy to drop things or make it difficult to open jars. It may be difficult to coordinate the fingers while typing or playing the guitar, piano, or violin. The problem usually worsens with activities or occupations that are practiced over an extended period of time.
This content is for your general education only. See your doctor for a professional diagnosis and to discuss an appropriate treatment plan.
Physical Therapy / Occupational Therapy for Ulnar Neuropathy
Your doctor may recommend exercises to help prevent stiffening in your arm and wrist and also to help the ulnar nerve move through the cubital tunnel.
You also can make changes at work and home to minimize pressure on your arm. For example, avoid leaning on your arm or elbow and keep your elbow straight at night while sleeping.Learn More About Our Physical Therapy Services
Medications for Ulnar Neuropathy
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen are often used to treat ulnar nerve compression. Corticosteroids may be injected into the affected area, providing relief for an extended period of time.Learn More About Our Pain Management Services
Ulnar Nerve Decompression
Ulnar nerve decompression surgery, also cubital tunnel release surgery, divides the ligament that makes up part of the cubital tunnel. This makes more room for the ulnar nerve to pass through the tunnel. Your surgeon may perform this procedure in a minimally invasive way.Read More
Please keep in mind that all treatments and outcomes are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, and bowel or bladder problems are some of the potential adverse risks of surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results and other important medical information.