What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Are you experiencing tingling or numbness in your fingers? Well, if you are, you may have what is known as Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome refers to a condition wherein the ulnar nerve or funny bone experiences stretching or pressure. This can lead to tingling and numbness in the small and ring finger of either or both hands.

Other than that, you may also experience weakness in the hand and pain in the forearm, where the ulnar nerve runs along the elbow in a groove.

Causes for Cubital tunnel syndrome

The causes for cubital tunnel syndrome are very few. First off, pressure can cause the condition. The ulnar nerve has very little padding for protection. So, when direct pressure is applied over it constantly (when you lean your arms over an arm rest for example), the nerve becomes pressed, which leads to the arm falling asleep, especially the hand, ring finger, and small finger. Keeping the elbow bent for long periods of time can stretch the ulnar nerve, which is another cause of the condition.

Anatomy Plays its Part

Finally, your arm’s anatomy itself might be to blame. In some people, the ulnar nerve doesn’t stay in position and snaps on and off over a bony bump when the elbow is moved. This repeated snapping can cause friction and irritate the nerve. With time, the soft tissues over the nerve end up becoming thick, which inhibits optimal functioning.

Important symptoms
to look out for

The symptoms for cubital tunnel syndrome can vary from person to person. However, there are certain common symptoms that may need your attention. The first includes tingling or numbness in the small and ring fingers, especially when the elbow is bent.

Pain in the hands can also signal cubital tunnel syndrome. Similarly, look for aches and pains in the inside of the elbow. If you experience a weakening of the hand muscles and a significant reduction in your ability to grip objects, you may have cubital tunnel syndrome. The symptoms for cubital tunnel syndrome aren’t exclusive and they are associated with many other conditions, such as golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis. So, it is best to consult a medical expert on such matters.

Diagnosis

Apart from going through your entire medical history and carrying out a physical assessment, Dr. Joshua Gordon and Dr. Leonard Gordon will call for:

  • A nerve conduction test, which is a test to find out how quickly signals are carried down a nerve. This helps the doctor identify whether or not the ulnar nerve is constricted or compressed.
  • An X-ray, which involves an inspection of the elbow bones. Your doctor will look for bone spurs or arthritis, which can trigger cubital tunnel syndrome.
  • An EMG or Electromyogram where the muscle and nerve functions are studied. The EMG will also be used to test the ulnar nerve’s controlling of the forearm muscles. If there is a problem in the functioning of the muscle, it may indicate the possibility of cubital tunnel syndrome.

Treatment Options

There are many treatment options for treating cubital tunnel syndrome. The most basic treatment involves preventing actions that cause the symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. For this, you may be asked to wrap a towel or pillow around the elbow, loosely. You may even be asked to wear a splint at night to prevent the elbow from bending. You will be advised to avoid leaning on the ulnar nerve. Hand therapy may be suggested to reduce pressure on the nerve.

Surgical Treatment

If the above-mentioned solutions don’t work, Dr. Joshua Gordon and Dr. Leonard Gordon, will suggest that you go in for surgery. Surgery for cubital tunnel syndrome involves loosening or releasing the ulnar nerve, moving it to the front of the elbow, or even removing a fragment of the bone to reduce friction.

Therapy may be required after surgery and recovery time varies from person to person.

To know more about your treatment options, get in touch with Dr. Joshua Gordon and Dr. Leonard Gordon at Hand and Microsurgery Medical Group.

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