Cubital tunnel syndrome

A very important nerve, the ulnar nerve can become entrapped in a tight tunnel around the elbow: the cubital tunnel. This nerve activates very important muscles in the forearm and hand and gives sensation to the small and ring fingers.

What causes cubital tunnel syndrome?

Anatomical anomalies, stretching or traction of the nerve from repetitive elbow flexion are the most common causes.

What are the symptoms?

  • Burning or shooting pain at the medial elbow
  • Numbness and paresthesias to the small and ring fingers
  • Symptoms are made worse with elbow flexion
  • Weakness of grip or clumsiness

How to diagnose it?

  • Several clinical tests will point to the origin of the problem at the elbow ( Tinel sign and flexion of the elbow while extending the wrist.)
  • Sensation is impaired to the ring and small digits.
  • Electrodiagnostic testing.

Functional treatment

Avoidance of direct pressure on the nerve and limiting full elbow flexion at work or during the night may be effective in early cases.

Surgery

Most of the time, when conservative surgery fails, a minimally invasive in situ decompression is very successful in alleviating symptoms. It allows for a much quicker recovery and has less complication than standard surgical procedures.

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Dr. Brutus offers a series of publications on a variety of health topics. Written in a clear and simple language, in collaboration with experts of various fields, these books are offered free of charge in downloadable version.

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