Jonathan Aarons M.D.

Tired of Chronic Pain?

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment occurs when the nerve is compressed on its path from the cervical spine down to the hand.  Although ulnar nerve entrapment can occur anywhere along its path, the most common site of compression is at the elbow.  As the ulnar nerve travels on its way down to the hand, it passes through a tunnel at the elbow called the cubital tunnel.  It also passes through another muscular tunnel in the forearm called Guyons Canal.  Symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment include numbness and tingling in the 4th and 5th finger of the hand, weakness of the muscles of the hand and forearm and muscle wasting in the hand.  Causes of the problem include trauma, repetitive elbow motion, diabetes, alcoholism and any problem that causes excessive fluid build-up.  Diagnosis of this problem begins with a detailed history and physical exam by your doctor.  X-rays are useful to look  for fractures.  EMG and Nerve Conduction studies are used to pinpoint the site of compression of the nerve.  An MRI may be useful to look at the soft tissue and bone surrounding the elbow.  Cubital Tunnel Syndrome can sometimes be confused with Golfer’s Elbow or cervical disc problems and these tests are useful to determine where the problem is coming from.  Treatment begins with conservative modalities such as rest, physical therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.  Injection of a corticosteroid around the affected area may decrease the symptoms.  In refractory situations, surgery may be necessary to release the compression.

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