ULNAR NERVE ENTRAPMENT (CUBITAL TUNNEL SYNDROME)

ULNAR NERVE ENTRAPMENT (CUBITAL TUNNEL SYNDROME)

Paul Nielsen, MD
Orthopaedic Hand and Upper Extremity SurgeonULNAR NERVE ENTRAPMENT (CUBITAL TUNNEL SYNDROME)

Date: November 25, 2019

What Are the Symptoms of Ulnar Nerve Entrapment?

  • Numbness or tingling in the hand is the most common symptom
    • Especially the small and ring fingers
  • Many patients notice the symptoms at night, when resting their elbow on a hard surface, and with heavy use
  • Some patients notice weakness in their hand
  • Pain and aching on the inside of the elbow is common

What Causes Ulnar Nerve Entrapment?

  • The ulnar nerve is compressed or “pinched” as it passes through a tight area on the inner part of the elbow
  • This nerve gives feeling to the small and ring fingers
  • Sleeping with the elbow bent often pinches the nerve, causing night-time symptoms
  • Swelling, scar tissue, inflammation and injuries can compress the nerve and cause symptoms

What Are the Treatment Options for Ulnar Nerve Entrapment?

  • Splints or padding to keep the elbows straight at night can sometimes help decrease symptoms
  • NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen or meloxicam can help with pain and swelling
  • Injections are not used for ulnar nerve entrapment
  • Surgery can include an ulnar nerve release to take the pressure off the nerve
    • This can often be performed as a minimally invasive procedure for a faster recovery

What Is Recovery Like After Surgery?

  • Patients normally are in a soft dressing for a few days after surgery
    • Sutures are removed 10-14 days after surgery
  • Light use of the arm is encouraged immediately after surgery
    • Heavy use of the arm is allowed about a month after surgery
  • Hand therapy is usually not required
  • Most patients regain normal feeling and function of their hand quickly
  • It is uncommon for patients to require a re-do surgery

Suspect you may have ulnar nerve entrapment? Make an appointment by calling New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery at (308) 865-2570. No referral required.

About the Author
Paul Nielsen, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand & upper extremity surgery at New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery in Kearney, Nebraska