The ulnar nerve gives feeling to the ring and little fingers and powers to the muscles of the hand. The nerve passes through a tunnel made up of the bones of the elbow and the forearm muscles – this is called the cubital tunnel. Symptoms occur when the ulnar nerve is restricted by pressure in the cubital tunnel.
Pressure: The nerve has little padding over it – direct pressure can press on the nerve
Stretching: Keeping the elbow bent for a long time can stretch the nerve – this can happen during sleep
Anatomy: Sometimes the nerve does not stay in place and snaps back and forth over a bony bump as the elbow moves – this can irritate the nerve. Abnormal swellings within the cubital tunnel may also press on the nerve
Avoid actions that cause symptoms such as pressure/leaning on the elbow
Nerve conduction studies can be used to check how well the nerve conducts electrical signals. X-rays may be ordered to look for any arthritis or abnormal bony anatomy.
MRI or CT may be used to look for any structures that may be pressing on the nerve.
Your care team may suggest the following surgery:
Therapy may be needed after surgery. The time the nerve takes to recover can vary according to each individual. If your symptoms are severe, the surgery and therapy session may not be able to relieve the condition totally.