Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

by Administrator 27. April 2016 12:45

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a condition characterized by damage to the ulnar nerve in the elbow. The ulnar nerve is the most unprotected nerve in the body and does not have any muscle or bone covering, making it prone to injuries. The nerve originates from the cervical spine (C8-T1 nerve roots). It then forms the part of “Brachial Plexus”. It enters the hand providing sensation to the little finger and adjacent half of the ring finger. 

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve is damaged from where it passes through a shallow groove on the inner side of the elbow. 

Causes:

  • Pressure: As the ulnar nerve lacks any protective padding, even a slight pressure, for example- prolonged leaning on the arm rest or a sudden blow to the elbow; may cause a tingling sensation in the ring and little finger-commonly referred to as 'fall asleep'.
  • Stretching: Bending the elbow for a long period of time, such as during sleep, may result in stretching of the ulnar nerve.
  • Anatomy: The ulnar nerve may snap out of its place due to repetitive elbow movements. Repetitive snapping can lead to thickening of the soft tissue and affect the functioning of the nerve.

Symptoms:

  • Pain in the elbow and fingers extending up to the finger tips
  • Loss of sensation/ numbness 
  • Weakness in the little and ring finger
  • Decrease in gripping power
  • The ability to pinch the thumb and little finger may decrease
  • Muscle wasting of the hand
  • Claw-like hand deformity

Diagnosis:

  • An orthopedic doctor may review the frequency, duration and severity of the symptoms experienced by the patient. 
  • He may also conduct Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) test to measure the ability of the nerve to transmit the sensory or motor signals.
  • EMG or Electromyography may also help in determining the severity of the condition.

Treatment:

  • The doctor may advise the patient to avoid leaning on the elbow to prevent worsening of the condition.
  • He may also suggest to wear splints to support the arm and elbow, particularly at night.
  • Performing certain exercises to strengthen the muscles of the arm and hand
  • In severe cases of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, surgery may be needed to relieve the pressure on the nerve.
  • Physiotherapy may be required to boost recovery after the surgery.

Dr. Neagle is a renowned hand surgeon in Carrollton, TX providing treatment for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and various other orthopedic conditions. To schedule an appointment with the surgeon, call at (972) 492 – 1334. 

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