Ulnar Nerve Entrapment / Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed
or irritated. The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves in
by InstantSavings">your arm. It travels from your neck down on the back side of your elbow and
into your hand to your little finger and part of your ring finger. This
nerve can become pinched or constricted in several places along the way.
Depending upon where it occurs, this pressure on the nerve can cause numbness
or pain in your elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers.
Sometimes the ulnar nerve gets compressed at the wrist, beneath the collarbone,
or as it comes out of the spinal cord in the neck. The most common place
where the nerve gets compressed is behind the elbow. When the nerve compression
occurs at the elbow, it is called "cubital tunnel syndrome."
There are several different causes of ulnar nerve entrapment or cubital
tunnel syndrome. Some people have this nerve irritated from sleeping with
their elbow bent or bending their elbow repetitively throughout the day.
Leaning on your elbow for long periods of time can also cause the nerve
to become irritated. A direct blow to the inside of the elbow can also
cause irritation to the nerve and create and electric shock like feeling.
This is sometimes referred to as "hitting your funny bone".
Some people refer to their hand or ring/little fingers falling asleep or
having a numbing sensation. This occurs most often when the elbow is bent
such as when they are sleeping, driving or holding a phone up to their
ear. Weakening of the grip is also a symptom of ulnar nerve entrapment.
In severe cases, muscle wasting or atrophy of the hand can occur. This
is why it is extremely important to consult a physician should you have
the above symptoms.
As with all diagnosis measures it is necessary to get a medical history
in order to rule out other conditions. Your physician will examine your
arm to determine which nerve is compressed. Your physician may also tap
over the nerve (or funny bone as some people call it). Your elbow may
also be checked to see if the ulnar nerve slides out of position when
the elbow is bent. Other tests may be done on your shoulder or neck to
rule out other nerve conditions and to see if any movements irritate the
ulnar nerve. X-rays and Nerve Conduction Studies may also be done in order
to positively diagnose ulnar nerve syndrome.