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Northern California Diagnosis & Treatment of Elbow Pain

Orthopedic Care for Elbow Pain

Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive pressure put on the ulnar nerve, which runs alongside the bone at the elbow. Such pressure can be caused by habitual activities such as leaning your elbows on a hard surface, bending the elbow for long periods of time (such as during sleep), or from other physical activities that put pressure on the ulnar nerve.

Cubital tunnel syndrome may also result from an injury causing the tissue around the nerve to thicken or the muscle to become larger. Abnormal bone growth or fluid buildup in the elbow can also cause pressure on the nerve.

Cubital tunnel syndrome at a glance:

  • Cubital tunnel syndrome, also known as ulnar neuropathy, is the compression or irritation of the ulnar nerve, which runs through the groove in the center of the elbow (in the area commonly referred to as the funny bone).
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome is caused by repeat injury that causes scar tissue, pressure, or stress to the funny bone area, affecting the way the nerve operates and causing pain, similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist.
  • Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include pain, numbness, and tingling through the fingers.
  • Treatment should start with conservative methods such as rest and stretching but may require surgery for severe cases.

Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

When the ulnar nerve becomes pinched, it can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the elbow that can extend into the fingers, especially when the elbow is bent or pressure is applied (such as leaning on a hard surface). In more severe cases, loss of strength in the fingers and a decreased ability to grip with the hand or fingers may also develop.

Some people also experience the ulnar nerve moving over the boney part of the elbow when the arm is bent and straightened, which can increasingly irritate the nerve over time.

Treatment of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

At home treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome should include rest, stretching and anti-inflammatory medicines. Other conservative methods may include using a splint to keep the elbow from bending (such as during sleep), avoiding unnecessary pressure on the elbow during daily activities, and wearing a pad over the elbow to protect the funny bone. Be sure to talk to your pharmacist before purchasing anti-inflammatories as these medications may be contraindicated as they may interact with other medications and medical conditions.

If the ulnar nerve is under severe pressure, surgery may be necessary to release or reposition the nerve and alleviate symptoms. Surgical procedures include cubital tunnel release, ulnar nerve anterior transportation, and medial epicondylectomy.

If you are experiencing pain or other symptoms, call us at 925-939-8585 to make your appointment or book it online

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