What Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
Cubital tunnel syndrome develops due to stretching of or pressure on the ulnar nerve, which runs from your neck to your hand along the inner elbow. It is the second most common nerve disorder after carpal tunnel syndrome.
As with carpal tunnel, many cases of cubital tunnel syndrome begin with overuse injuries. However, there are other causes, including:
- Abnormal nerve placement, which presses on the nerve
- Injury to the inner elbow
- Playing baseball or softball
- Resting on elbows for prolonged periods
- Fluid buildup
Cubital tunnel syndrome is suspected to have a connection with rheumatoid arthritis, but more research is needed to confirm a link. Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome can mimic those of arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome and include:
- Loss of coordination — A lack of feeling in the hand, weakness and lack of finger manipulation may lead to clumsiness.
- Muscle wasting — In untreated cubital tunnel syndrome, hand muscles may waste away and never recover.
- Numbness — The ring and little fingers are often affected, causing the fingers to feel as if they have fallen asleep.
- Pain — This may be experienced inside the elbow or, more frequently, in the hand.
Available treatments for cubital tunnel syndrome include:
- Bracing —A brace or splint can help keep elbows straight and prevent irritation of the ulnar nerve.
- Medication — Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can limit pain and reduce swelling that may be causing a pinched ulnar nerve.
- Surgery — One outpatient procedure aims to reduce pressure on the ulnar nerve by severing the ligament applying pressure. Other outpatient options shift the nerve to a location where it will no longer be pinched.
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If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
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