Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

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What is it?

This is where the ulnar nerve becomes irritated or constricted. It is commonly affected in an area in the back of the elbow. This can be caused by activities such as a subluxing nerve, leaning on your elbow, increased swelling, or a direct injury to the area.

Symptoms:

  • Pain or numbness in the elbow, hand, or wrist
  • Weakening hand grip
  • Atrophy of the muscles of the hand

How is it diagnosed?

Elbow specialists will exam your elbow for any deformities or areas of the nerve that may be irritated. They will evaluate you from your neck to your hand with special tests. Further imaging will not show direct compression of a nerve but may allude to other structural concerns such as loose bodies. Your specialist may send you for an EMG to evaluate the conduction or function of the nerve.

Treatment:

Conservative treatment for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome includes:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Formal physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Splinting or bracing in moderate cases

Surgical treatment is only pursued if conservative treatment fails or there is muscle atrophy from the compression of the nerve. Possible procedures include a cubital tunnel release or ulnar nerve transposition. Post-operatively you will be splinted for a period of time. You will begin a formal physical therapy program to regain range of motion and strength with a progression back to your normal activities. Nerves heal very slowly.