Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (Nerve entrapment in the elbow)

There are thee major nerves in our hand, Median, Ulnar and Radial, responsible of working the muscles and providing sensation. The Ulnar nerve is a branch of brachial plexus, enters the anterior compartment of the forearm after travels down the ulna and enters the palm of the hand through the cubital tunnel. Entrapment of the ulnar nerve in this tunnel is called “Cubital Tunnel Syndrome”. The nerve ends in the ring and little fingers after passing through the tunnel. Although cubital tunnel syndrome is associated with previous fractures around the elbow, space-occupying masses in the tunnel, and connective tissue diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, it is not clear what causes this syndrome. The most common symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include numbness of the small finger and half of the ring finger where ulnar nerve extends through, pain, and loss of sensation. In progressed cases, the patients may experience difficulty in approaching fingers and the small and ring fingers curve backwards when trying to hold the hand straight.

Diagnosis of cubital tunnel syndrome is made by clinical examination of the patients. Standard examination method to confirm the diagnosis is called EMG which is an electrodiagnostic study. This measures the power of the nerves to transmit the electric so whether the nerve is entrapped and if so at what level it is entrapped are determined.

If your symptoms have just begun, we recommend you to avoid any activities to entrap the nerve, to cease to sit with your elbow leant on, and to use splints to hold the elbow straight during the night.

The definitive treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome is relaxation of ulnar nerve by surgical methods and to free the tissues causing entrapment. The nerve is transferred to frontal side of the elbow by surgery to prevent the nerve from stretching with elbow movements. Only your arm will be anaesthetized for surgery and you can be discharged on the same day.

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The information on this website is not intended to replace any medical advice given by physicians with access to your detailed medical history.