Cubital tunnel syndrome, also known as ulnar neuropathy or ulnar nerve entrapment, is the second most common peripheral nerve entrapment syndrome in the human body. It stems from increased pressure on the ulnar nerve. This nerve passes close to the skin’s surface on the inside of the elbow. The nerve is commonly referred to as the “funny bone.”
This condition can either be caused by repeated pressure or bending of the elbow for extended periods of time. Sometimes, it can be caused by abnormal bone growth in the elbow from intense physical activity, such as pitching a baseball.
Early symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness or tingling in the elbow or fingers
- Pain in the elbow
- Weakening of the grip and difficulty with finger coordination
- Weakness affecting the ring and little fingers
More severe symptoms include:
- Claw-like deformity of the hand
- Muscle wasting in the hand
Treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome begins with non-surgical methods. Mild cases often respond to physical therapy and self-care. These may include:
- Avoiding undue pressure on the elbow
- Use of a cubital tunnel splint to immobilize elbow position and reduce pain
- Use of this splint to prevent over-bending of the elbow during sleep
When non-surgical remedies are unsuccessful, cubital tunnel surgery to release ulnar nerve compression can provide excellent results.