Cubital tunnel Syndrome

What is it?

Cubital tunnel syndrome refers to the collection of symptoms that occur when the ulnar nerve is compressed behind the elbow.

The ulnar nerve is responsible for sensation of the little and ring fingers, as well as fine movements of the hand. This is the reason patients with Cubital Tunnel Syndrome in the elbow feel the effects of the condition in the hand.

What are the symptoms?

Pins & needles, tingling sensation affecting the ring and little fingers. Occasionally there can be abnormal feelings in the other fingers as well.

Cubital Tunnel symptoms are normally aggravated by bending the elbow. This can make activities such as driving or reading a book difficult. The symptoms can be particularly bad at night, leading to restless sleep and constant waking.

It may also lead to numbness and pain in the hand and sometimes forearm. This can cause weakness, clumsiness and loss of fine control of the hand. Patients often complain of a weak grip and frequent dropping of objects.

what is the treatment?

For mild cases, sometimes an elbow splint can be worn at night. This keeps the elbow straight and can prevent symptoms from starting.

For severe cases, surgery is often required. This is normally performed under a general anaesthesia, where you are asleep, or regional anaesthesia, where the arm is numbed from the shoulder downwards. The surgery relieves the compression over the nerve and the benefit can often be felt rapidly. In some cases, it may be necessary to move the nerve in the elbow to prevent the symptoms from coming back.

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