Cubital tunnel syndrome is a set of symptoms caused by abnormal pressure on the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve passes through an area on the inside of the elbow, also called the cubital tunnel. Problems with this nerve can cause numbness and weakness in the hand, particularly the pinky and ring fingers.
Pressure on the ulnar nerve can cause problems in the pinky and ring fingers of the hand.
In most cases, cubital tunnel syndrome will go away on its own when excess pressure on the elbow is removed. Activities may need to be limited if they contribute to the syndrome. Your doctor may also recommend:
Ice to help relieve inflammation and pain
A splint, brace, or padding to keep your elbow straight and relieve pressure
Exercises and therapy to help maintain strength, range of motion, and flexibility
Medication to relieve pain and swelling
If an illness or injury is the cause of symptoms, then a specific treatment will be advised for those.
Surgery may be required in more severe cases or if other treatment methods fail. The goal of surgery is to relieve compression and restore the nerve function and muscle strength. Surgical options include:
Cubital tunnel release—increases the size of the tunnel the nerve passes through
Ulnar nerve anterior transportation—moves the nerve to a different position
Medial epicondylectomy—removes part of the bony ridge that catches the nerve as it moves across the elbow joint
Neal SL, Fields KB. Peripheral nerve entrapment and injury in the upper extremity. Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(2):147-155.
Trehan SK, Parziale JR. Cubital tunnel syndrome: Diagnosis and management. Med Health R I. 2012;95(11):349-352.
Ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow (cubital tunnel syndrome). Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00069. Updated September 2015. Accessed September 7, 2017.
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