You’ve probably heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, and one related condition is cubital tunnel syndrome, which is the second most common nerve entrapment condition. The cubital tunnel is a 4-millimeter passageway located in the elbow and it encases the ulnar nerve. This is one of the nerves that supplies feeling and movement to your upper appendages, and it is easily compressed due to the narrow opening of the cubital tunnel. When the ulnar nerve is compressed, symptoms include pain, numbness, and muscle weakness, especially in the pinky finger and half of the ring finger on the affected limb.
The Ulnar Nerve: The Real “Funny Bone”
Most people have experienced ulnar nerve pain at some point, as this is the actual “funny bone,” which is not really a bone at all. That horrendous pain and intense tingling is the result of direct trauma to the inside of the elbow where the ulnar nerve is located. This is because when you hit the inside of your elbow, the nerve is prone to irritation, because there is not much of a fatty cushion in that spot, at all. Most of the time, this tingling and pain is fleeting and quickly resolves itself. In rare instances, trauma to the ulnar nerve causes persistent symptoms, most notably, cubital tunnel syndrome. If you have cubital tunnel syndrome and you tap “the funny bone,” you will feel that same, familiar painful tingling sensation every time.
Treatments for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
In the majority of patients, cubital tunnel syndrome can be cured by conservative, nonsurgical treatment and lifestyle modifications. Many people who have cubital tunnel syndrome acquire it from leaning on their elbows for long periods of time, such as office workers who sit in front of a computer most days. By wearing a split or brace to keep the elbow immobilized and decrease inflammation. You may also want to try over-the-counter painkillers to decrease inflammation, applying ice to the elbow, or seeking the help of a physical therapist to learn nerve gliding exercises that may cure your cubital tunnel syndrome.
Nerve gliding exercises stretch the ulnar nerve and can help improve pain symptoms. A physical therapist can show you specific strengthening and stretching exercises that can alleviate symptoms in your hand, as well as the root cause of an entrapped nerve in the elbow.
At ProFysio Physical Therapy, our physical therapists are trained to treat a wide variety of conditions affecting the extremities. Contact us at (732) 812-5200 to book an appointment.