Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
What is a Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
The ulnar nerve gives sensation to the small and ring fingers and controls hand muscles and some forearm muscles. In cubital tunnel syndrome, the ulnar nerve is pinched at the elbow, in a tunnel that runs under the medial epicondyle, or “funny bone”. When your bend your elbow, the ulnar nerve stretches around the medial epicondyle, and can become irritated. Keeping your elbow bent for long periods, repeatedly bending your elbow, a direct blow to your elbow, or leaning on your elbow can cause symptoms. Cubital tunnel can be associated with prior elbow fracture or dislocations, arthritis, and repetitive activities that require the elbow to be bent
What are the symptoms?
- Numbness and tingling in the ring and small fingers, especially when your elbow is bent
- Weak grip and difficult finger movement
- If the nerve is very compressed or has been compressed for a long time, muscles in the hand can shrink and die off
What medical tests will I need?
- X-Rays: to rule out any abnormal bone structures that might be causing your symptoms.
- EMG/NCV (Nerve conduction study): to show if the nerve is carrying signals normally and hand muscles are responding
How is it treated?
- Braces: These at keep the elbow straight and allows the swollen tissues to rest.
- Anti-inflammatory Medicine: controls swelling in the elbow. These include naproxen, ibuprofen, and meloxicam.
- Cubital tunnel release: : the "roof" of the cubital tunnel is cut. This decreases pressure on the nerve
- Ulnar nerve anterior transposition: the nerve may need to be secured if it moves out of place when the elbow moves
What do I need to know about surgery?
- You will be contacted within 2 weeks of your pre-op appointment for pricing and scheduling.
- The surgery will last less 60 minutes and you will go home the same day.
- Your surgeon will make an incision at the inner elbow.
- You will have a splint for 2 weeks that will keep your elbow from moving. After the splint is removed, the are no restrictions on movement. If the nerve was moved, you will not be able to lift for 4 weeks.
- At your 2 week follow up visit, the sutures and bandage will be removed, and you will begin scar massage.
- If you are having symptoms in the other hand, you will be given the option to have surgery at your 4 week follow up.