Cubital tunnel syndrome

Arms | Orthopaedics | Cubital tunnel syndrome (Disease)


On its way to the hand the ulnar nerve passes through a boney groove in the elbow. The following are the most common symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include: (1) numbness in the hand and/or ring and little finger; (2) hand pain; (3) clumsiness of the arm and pain at the elbow can also occur; (4) hand and thumb clumsiness due to muscle weakness.

The symptoms get worse with bending of the elbow. The symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome may resemble other medical conditions or problems, including medial epicondylitis (golfers elbow).

Causes and Risk factors

A person that suffers from cubital tunnel syndrome has irritation of the ulnar nerve at the elbow, which may result in hand numbness or weakness. Cubital tunnel syndrome is almost always caused by an injury. Common causes include occupational elbow injury, elbow fracture, and sports injury.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for cubital tunnel syndrome may include the following: (1) nerve conduction test: a test to determine how fast signals travel down a nerve to detect a compression or constriction; (2) electromyogram (EMG): a test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.

Effective treatment generally requires resolving the underlying cause. Initial conservative therapy includes identifying positions and activities that aggravate symptoms and stopping them. For example, if the person experiences symptoms when holding a telephone up to the head, then the use of a telephone headset will provide immediate symptomatic relief and reduce the likelihood of further damage and inflammation to the nerve.

Occupational therapy, physical therapy and chiropractic often provide relief. Surgery may be required for some causes, such as thoracic outlet syndrome. ...