Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

The ulnar nerve supplies sensation to the ring and little finger, as well as motor function to many of the small muscles of the hand (intrinsics). The sensory branches of the ulnar nerve in the hand join to form the main ulnar nerve branch in the forearm, which then runs upwards (proximal) to lay behind the medial aspect of the elbow, before traveling up the arm to the spinal cord. Behind the elbow, the ulnar nerve is located in a groove called “the Cubital tunnel.” As the ulnar nerve travels behind the axis of elbow motion, this nerve may become stretched with elbow flexion. Over time, as the ulnar nerve is stretched (or compressed), its function may become compromised. If this occurrence persists, and symptoms interfere with daily activities and/or sleep, this condition is termed “Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.” Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome include numbness and tingling on the ulnar side of the hand, weakness of the small intrinsic muscles of the hand, and pain which radiates up the medial side of the elbow. Symptoms are made worse with elbow flexion or direct pressure over the nerve at the Cubital tunnel. This diagnosis can be confirmed with electrodiagnostic studies, which may demonstrate abnormalities in conduction of the ulnar nerve. Treatment for mild cases may entail simple, supportive treatment, while more chronic conditions may require surgical intervention.

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