Cubital tunnel syndrome is the result of inflammation of the ulnar nerve. It can result from injury but is most common with overuse. The condition can be quite painful. A hand treatment specialist like the doctors at the Florida Hand Center can also deal with conditions in the forearm and may be the best person to consult for this condition.
All About Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
The ulnar nerve begins in the side of the neck and runs all the way down the arm to the fingers. In the area of the elbow, the nerve passes through a “tunnel” composed of muscle, bone, and ligament in the inside of the elbow. This is the same area called the “funny bone.” Cubital tunnel syndrome may occur from overuse – repeatedly bending the elbow, leaning on the elbow for long periods or after an injury. Arthritis and bone spurs may narrow the cubital tunnel, while a previous fracture or dislocation of the elbow can also cause this syndrome.
Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
The cubital tunnel has very little room, so if the nerve becomes swollen or inflamed for any reason, it puts pressure on the nerve. Common symptoms include:
- Numbness and tingling, especially when the elbow is bent. The sensations usually occur in the hand or the ring and little finger.
- Pain in the hand.
- Aching pain in the inside of the elbow.
- Clumsiness and a weak grip on the affected side.
The symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome can be similar to those caused by other conditions. To make a diagnosis, most doctors will order an X-ray to see if you have bone spurs. A nerve conduction test can show how fast signals move up and down the nerve. Constriction or compression of the nerve will slow the signals. An electromyogram (EMG) is used to evaluate nerve and muscle function. It also allows the doctor to determine if the forearm muscles controlled by the ulnar nerve are working properly.
Rest is the first step in treating cubital tunnel syndrome. You must also stop any activity that aggravates the nerve such as bending the elbow repeatedly. A splint may help limit movement. An elbow pad can help protect the elbow to prevent irritation from hard services. Anti-inflammatory medications can reduce pain and inflammation. If these conservative therapies don’t help, your doctor may recommend a steroid injection. Occasionally, surgery is required to relieve pressure on the nerve.
The aggravation and pain from cubital tunnel syndrome can limit your daily activities. If you suffer from this condition, please contact the Florida Hand Center at 941-625-3782 for a free hand screening (which includes the elbow). With two locations to serve you in Port Charlotte and Fort Myers, our state of the art facilities and friendly staff will help you find a resolution for your problem. We offer a number of minimally invasive options as well as conservative therapy. If you need surgery, we have experienced and knowledgeable surgeons on staff as well.