Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition brought on by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve located at the elbow. This nerve passes through what is called the cubital tunnel as it crosses your elbow. If the cubital tunnel sustains an injury or is subjected to an inflammatory condition, cubital tunnel syndrome may result.

Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Common early signs of cubital tunnel syndrome include numbness and tingling in the ring finger and small finger. Your grip may become weak and fine dexterity can suffer. Pain may accompany numbness in the hand or elbow as the syndrome progresses. Numbness and clumsiness of the entire hand may develop if left untreated.

Causes of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Pressure on the ulnar nerve at the elbow can develop in several ways. The ulnar nerve is stretched each time the elbow is bent and repeated stress and pressure can cause inflammation in the tissue surrounding the ulnar nerve. An elbow that has sustained a significant injury may develop scar tissue that can rub against the nerve and cause irritation.

Any activity that involves frequent bending of the elbow can lead to this syndrome. Constant lifting, reaching, or lever pulling are a common thread with many cubital tunnel patients. Leaning on the elbow or keeping the elbow bent for extended periods of time can also produce the symptoms.

Your Treatment Options

The simplest method of treating this syndrome is by stopping whatever activity it is that is causing the symptoms. Sometimes a change in the ergonomics of your environment will improve symptoms.  Elbow braces and splints, heat treatments, anti-inflammatory medications, therapy, and strengthening exercises are often enough to lessen the symptoms. However, surgery is required in some cases. There are several surgical approaches. These include shifting the nerve to the front of the elbow or placing the nerve under a layer of fat or muscle.  Your physician will discuss the different surgical interventions for tennis elbow at your consultation.