Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that involves the ulnar nerve, also known as the “funny bone” nerve, which runs on the inner side of the elbow. This condition can cause numbness or tingling in the ring finger and small finger (sometimes referred to as “pins and needles”), pain in the forearm, loss of sensation and/or weakness in the hand.
Here are three potential causes of this condition:
- Pressure: The ulnar nerve has little padding over it, so direct pressure (like leaning your arm on an arm rest) can cause the arm and hand — especially the ring and small fingers — to “fall asleep.”
- Stretching: Keeping the elbow bent for a long time can stretch the ulnar nerve. This can happen while you sleep or if you are holding a phone for a long period of time, for example.
- Anatomy: Sometimes, the ulnar nerve simply does not stay in its place. It will snap back and forth over a bony bump as you move your elbow, which can irritate the nerve.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome can be very painful, and it can cause you to feel weak or clumsy. If you think you have this condition, visit a hand surgeon for a diagnosis. You may have a different medical condition that results in similar symptoms, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or a pinched nerve in the neck.
Your hand surgeon may suggest non-surgical treatment options such as wearing a splint at night. He/she may also suggest surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve. It may also be recommended that you visit a hand therapist. Discuss the best treatment for you with your surgeon.