Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition where the ulnar nerve, which runs on the inside and posterior part of the elbow, has compression and subsequent levels of dysfunction. Common symptoms, from least to most severe, are: 1) numbness that involves the little finger and half the ring finger, (a 'funny bone" feeling) 2) weakness of grasp or grip, 3) loss of control of fine motor skills, and 4) wasting or atrophy of small muscles in the hand.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Causes

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is caused by compression of the nerve at the level of the elbow, and that compression can often be exacerbated by posture or position of the elbow, such as excessive elbow flexion, as can happen when talking on the phone.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

Early recognition of the symptoms can often be reversed with conservative management. Treatment can include use of anti-inflammatories, avoiding aggravating positions, and bracing the elbow in extension, especially when sleeping.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosis

Most patients who are not resolving symptomatically can have the diagnosis confirmed with electrodiagnostic studies. This confirms the location of the compression.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Surgery

Once confirmed, the nerve can be decompressed surgically. There are a variety of techniques that can be used, but the common factor is that the pressure on the nerve is relieved.

Because nerves only reconstitute function at a millimeter a day, some symptoms may not resolve for well over a year, even when treated appropriately, and full recovery is not always assured, depending on severity of the presenting symptoms. Most patients, however, ultimately feel the surgical treatment was beneficial.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome After Surgery

After surgical decompression, once postoperative pain has resolved, patients can slowly resume most activities, and many don't require physical therapy.