Have you ever felt a sensation of numbness or tingling in your fingers? Perhaps your pinky or ring fingers have felt “asleep” when you wake up in the morning or after a particularly long day at work. While there can be many potential causes behind numb and tingling fingers such as carpal tunnel syndrome, a lesser known possible culprit is cubital tunnel syndrome.
What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
Cubital tunnel syndrome is the medical name given to the condition in which the ulnar nerve - which runs from the shoulder to the hand - becomes compressed or entrapped inside the cubital tunnel. This tunnel is comprised of muscle, ligament and bone and is located at the elbow. Commonly, this compression happens due to inflammation and damage to the nerve due to repeated bending of the elbow or conditions such as bone spurs or arthritis.
Why does Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Cause Numbness and Tingling?
The ulnar nerve is one of three major nerves running through the arm. Its job is to supply feeling to the pinky and half of the ring finger. It is also involved in fine finger movements and larger muscle movements involving the forearm such as grasping an object. Because of its location and function, entrapment or compression of the ulnar nerve tends to affect sensation in the hand and fingers, resulting in feelings of numbness and tingling. These sensations are particularly noticeable after the elbow has been bent for an extended period of time, such as while sleeping at night.
What can I do about Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
Most cases of cubital tunnel syndrome can be improved through non-surgical means. These can include taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation, wearing a brace at night to keep the elbow straight, and physical therapy exercises to help the nerve glide through the cubital tunnel more freely. However, there may be more severe or bothersome cases which require surgical intervention to bring relief. In these instances, there are multiple available techniques to free the nerve and restore proper motion.
If you are suffering from uncomfortable symptoms associated with cubital tunnel syndrome, contact the Bone and Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge and request an appointment with one of our hand specialists. Through their experienced care, you can once again enjoy pain-free movement of your elbow and full feeling and function of your hand and fingers.