Paul Nielsen, MD
Orthopaedic Hand and Upper Extremity Surgeon
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