Advanced Treatment for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Cubital tunnel syndrome is the second most common compressive nerve problem in medicine today. This condition arises when the ulnar nerve which supplies muscle commands for both the forearm and parts of the hand becomes compressed or injured. This nerve also carries sensory neurons supplying the skin of the back of the forearm, the palm and the fourth and little fingers as well. Damage can occur in places like the palm of the hand through prolonged exposure to pressure and vibration (motorcycle riding, drilling, etc). However, the most common location of ulnar compression is at the elbow, within the cubital tunnel. The nerve is positioned right next to the bone and has very little padding over it, so pressure on this can put pressure on the nerve. For example, if you lean your arm against a table on the inner part of the elbow, your arm may fall asleep and be painful from sustained pressure on the ulnar nerve. In fact, something as simple as sleeping with your elbow bent behind your head can place pressure on this nerve and result in permanent injury.
The symptoms of this condition usually include pain, numbness, and/or tingling. The numbness or tingling most often occurs in the ring and little fingers. The symptoms are usually felt when there is pressure on the nerve, such as sitting with the elbow on an arm rest, or with repetitive elbow bending and straightening. Often symptoms will be felt when the elbow is held in a bent position for a period of time, such as when holding the phone, or while sleeping. Some patients may notice weakness while pinching, occasional clumsiness, and/or a tendency to drop things. In severe cases, sensation may be lost and the muscles in the hand may lose bulk and strength. Diagnosis is made by direct examination as well as a history consistent with nerve compression. The Fitzmaurice Hand Institute then utilizes state-of-the-art ultrasound to provide confirmation, as opposed to traditional (and often uncomfortable) nerve conduction studies.