In this post, we’ll discuss what cubital tunnel syndrome is, and the treatment options you have.
- What is cubital tunnel syndrome?
- Are there non-surgical treatments for cubital tunnel syndrome?
- What is cubital tunnel surgery?
- How can Michigan Surgery Specialists help?
What is cubital tunnel syndrome?
Cubital tunnel syndrome is also known as Ulnar Nerve Entrapment. The ulnar nerve extends from your neck, to your hand. At the elbow, the ulnar nerve gets constricted.
In your elbow, the ulnar nerve runs over what we often call the “funny bone.” When you bend your elbow, the ulnar nerve gets pushed against that bony ridge. That compression can irritate the nerve and cause pain.
For many of us, bending the elbow is a common part of work or play. This repetitive strain on the ulnar nerve can lead to cubital tunnel syndrome. If you’ve had trauma to the elbow previously, you’re also at greater risk.
What are the symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome?
The most common symptoms include:
- Hand pain
- Weak grip
- Aching pain on the inside of your elbow
- Numbness and tingling in the hand, ring finger and little finger
If you’re consistently feeling pain, tingling and weakness, it’s probably time to see a doctor. Don’t try to live through the pain. The longer you wait, the more the condition will worsen.
Are there non-surgical treatments for cubital tunnel syndrome?
Yes, there are several non-surgical options. One of the treatments your doctor may recommend is wearing a brace, particularly at night. Keeping your elbow straight can improve your condition, and the brace is designed to do so.
Your doctor may also recommend that you see a Certified Hand Therapist. Exercises demonstrated by a therapist may give you some relief.
In some cases, non-surgical treatment may relieve your pain. But in other cases, surgery is required.
It’s important that you don’t leave this untreated. In the long run, cubital tunnel syndrome can cause permanent damage to your ulnar nerve. You could end up with constant pain, or difficulty moving your hand and arm.
What is Cubital Tunnel Surgery?
There are several types of cubital tunnel surgery that a hand surgeon may use:
- Cubital tunnel release: This procedure is designed to relieve pain by making more room. A ligament is divided to decrease the pressure on the ulnar nerve.
- Ulnar nerve anterior transposition: In this procedure, the ulnar nerve is moved so that it doesn’t rub on bone when you bend your elbow.
- Medial epicondylectomy: A portion of ligament is removed to prevent the nerve from rubbing on bone.
How do you recover from cubital tunnel surgery?
Recovery from cubital tunnel surgery depends on which procedure you received. After a transposition, you may have to spend three to six weeks in a splint. For less intensive procedures, you may have to spend up to three weeks in a splint.
Your doctor may recommend therapy with a Certified Hand Therapist following surgery. A CHT will use exercises to improve your arm strength. Therapists monitor your progress, making sure that you are regaining movement without pain.
Are you suffering from cubital tunnel syndrome?
At Michigan Surgery Specialists, you’ll find some of the most experienced and highly-skilled hand surgeons in Metro Detroit. Our doctors can help diagnose cubital tunnel syndrome or other hand and wrist conditions that are causing you pain.