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— HandCare (@HandCareMD) August 14, 2015
— HandCare (@HandCareMD) August 14, 2015
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:
Dr. Noah Raizman answers your questions about Lateral Epicondylitis, sometimes known as tennis elbow.
Q: What is Lateral Epicondylitis, and is it the same thing as “Tennis Elbow?”
A: Lateral Epicondylitis and Tennis Elbow are one and the same. Lateral Epicondylitis is a painful condition caused by damage to the elbow where the tendons that extend your wrist and fingers originate from. That area is called the lateral epicondyle. Tendons attach muscle to bone. The primary muscle that allows your wrist to extend, the ECRB (extensor carpi radialis brevis), is usually the tendon involved.
Q: What causes it?
A: Lateral Epicondylitis can be caused by trauma, repetitive mild trauma and overuse, but truly, we are not sure why some people get it and others do not. We consider it a “tendinopathy of middle age” because it typically happens in patients in their 40s and 50s, though it can occur at any age. Sometimes it is due to sports activities like golf or racquet sports and sometimes from work activities, but, just as often, it seems to happen after lifting or carrying objects.
Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Lateral Epicondylitis typically includes symptoms such as pain over the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. There is typically no clicking, popping or feeling of instability. There typically is no pain over the back or inside of the elbow. The pain is worst with gripping, grasping and wringing activities and can be provoked by typing or using a computer mouse with the wrist extended. There is not usually any numbness or tingling associated with it.
- Tendonitis: Tendon inflammation is the most common wrist/hand complaint among golfers. Treatment can include rest, splint(s), ice and anti-inflammatory medicine.
- Wrist fractures: A fracture of the hook of the hamate, a small bone in the wrist, is a distinctive golf injury. It can be caused by hitting the club forcefully on the ground and may cause pain, numbness or tingling in the little or ring fingers. Treatment can include a splint, a cast or surgery.
- Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis): Golfer’s elbow is a painful tendonitis on the inner part of the elbow. It can be caused by repeated swinging of the club. Treatment can include rest, physical therapy or anti-inflammatory medicines.
- Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow): Pain on the outer side of the elbow is common with lateral epicondylitis. It can be caused by repeated strain on the dominant arm. Treatment can include rest, physical therapy or anti-inflammatory medicines.
- Golf cart injuries: Unsafe use of golf carts can cause fall-outs and tip-overs, which may result in serious fractures to the hand, wrist, arm, elbow or shoulder. Use caution when driving a golf cart.
Learn more about golf injuries to the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder.