Category : Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Elbow Hand Nerves

Ask a Doctor: Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

ask a doctor_cubital tunnel

Dr. Douglas E. Pittner answers your questions about Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.

My doctor said I have cubital tunnel syndrome.  What does that mean?
The cubital tunnel is the name for a space, like a tunnel, at the inside of the elbow.  It is where your ulnar nerve (the “funny bone” nerve) travels around the elbow and into your forearm.  Sometimes problems develop in this area.  It is possible for this tunnel to be too tight, causing pressure on the ulnar nerve.  The nerve can also be stretched as it travels around the elbow.  Cubital tunnel syndrome refers to the pain, numbness, or weakness that is caused by these problems around the elbow.

Why do my fingers to go numb?
The ulnar nerve travels from your elbow to your hand and provides sensation to your fingers as well as connections to important muscles in your hand.  The nerve acts like an electrical wire that sends signals to and from the hand.  When this nerve is stretched or compressed at the elbow, the electrical signals can be slow.  Your body interprets this as numbness or tingling, usually in the small and ring fingers.  You may experience pain in the elbow or forearm.  Weakness can also develop in the hand muscles which can cause decreased strength with gripping or pinching.

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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Finger Hand Nerves

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Description, Symptoms and Treatment

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that is caused by pressure or stretching of the ulnar nerve (the “funny bone”), which can cause you to feel numbness or tingling, pain and/or weakness in the hand and fingers. It can prevent you from performing daily tasks and affect you during the night.

This condition can be treated with simple activity modification, but surgery may be needed.

Watch this 3-minute video to learn more about Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, including possible symptoms and your treatment options. Visit www.HandCare.org to read about this condition in detail.

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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Elbow Hand Hand Therapy

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist on Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Image of patient after injury using elbow stabilizer ** Note: Soft Focus at 100%, best at smaller sizes

Cubital tunnel syndrome: Hand numbness and tingling is not always carpal tunnel syndrome.

I have a funny tingling in my small and ring fingers while holding my cell phone to my ear or while holding a book when reading in bed. Why?

That “funny” sensation could be compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow. The path of the ulnar nerve runs just behind the boney part on the inside of the elbow. The nerve is close to the skin and runs through a boney ridge without any substantial padding. The nerve must slide and stretch through this cubital tunnel with elbow movement.

Wait a minute! What does the nerve at my elbow have to do with the funny sensations in my hand?

Good question! The job of the ulnar nerve is to facilitate communication from your brain to your hand. This communication operates the muscles that help you perform coordinated movements with your fingers. Another job of the ulnar nerve is to take information about sensation at the ring and small fingers back to the brain. If the nerve is compressed or irritated, it can’t do its job. This condition leads to difficulty manipulating objects with your hand, feelings of weakness and sensations of tingling, numbness, burning or tightness in your fingers.

That doesn’t sound good. What can I do?

There is good news. There are some things you can try that might calm the nerve. Nerves do not like to be crowded. The ulnar nerve becomes crowded at the elbow with direct pressure over its path or when the elbow is held in a bent position for an extended period of time.

Here are a few tips:

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