Cubital tunnel syndrome  

Woman with hurt wrist

The ulnar nerve—also known as the “funny bone” in your elbow—begins in the neck and ends in the finger. When the ulnar nerve becomes injured, it causes cubital tunnel syndrome, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the forearm and arm. 

The best way to prevent cubital tunnel syndrome is to avoid prolonged flexion of the elbows. 

Cubital tunnel syndrome causes 

Cubital tunnel syndrome often occurs in people who repeatedly bend their elbows by pulling, reaching or lifting. Other causes of cubital tunnel syndrome include: 

  • Arthritis 

  • Bone spurs 

  • Elbow dislocation

  • Frequent leaning on elbow 

  • Injury to the elbow area 

  • Previous fractures of the arm or elbow 

Cubital tunnel syndrome symptoms 

Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome are different for everyone. The most common symptoms include: 

  • Aching inside the elbow 

  • Clumsiness due to weakened hand or arm muscles 

  • Hand pain 

  • Numbness in hand and/or ring/little finger

  • Pain inside the elbow 

  • Pain/numbness/tingling when elbow is bent 

  • Tinging in hand and/or ring/little finger 

  • Weak grip 

Cubital tunnel syndrome diagnosis  

During your appointment, one of our skilled joint specialists reviews your symptoms, goes over your health history and conducts a physical exam. If more information is needed, the following tests may be ordered:

  • Electromyogram (EMG)—a test that evaluates nerve and muscle function. It can be used to test the muscles controlled by the ulnar nerve. 

  • Nerve conduction test—evaluates how quickly a signal can travel down to a nerve. This test can find nerve compression or constriction. 

  • X-ray—invisible electromagnetic energy beams that make images of your bones and their surrounding soft tissues to check for bone spurs or arthritis in your elbow.

Cubital tunnel syndrome treatment 

The most common treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication 

  • Avoiding activities that aggravate the elbow 

  • Nerve gliding exercises (encourages the nerves to glide normally as you move your joints) 

  • Resting and avoiding bending the elbow whenever possible 

  • Using elbow pads to prevent irritation from hard surfaces 

  • Wearing an elbow splint at night to reduce irritation 

If these treatments don’t relieve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery to take the pressure off of the nerve. 

Orthopedic specialists at The Christ Hospital Health Network are among the most experienced and skilled doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome. 

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