Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (also known as ulnar neuropathy) is a condition that is caused by a compression injury to the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve, one of three main nerves in the arm, and travels from the neck to the hand. In the forearm, it is located along the ulna. Although compression injuries of the ulnar nerve can occur near the collarbone and wrist, the most common location is on the inside of the elbow. The sensation that a person experiences when bumping the “funny bone” in the elbow is due to the ulnar nerve.
Cubital tunnel syndrome most commonly occurs when the ulnar nerve/cubital tunnel is compressed by muscle, bone or tendons. It also happens when the ulnar nerve stretches abnormally or shifts frequently. The following are ways that increase the chances of it developing:
- Leaning on elbows repeatedly, especially on hard surfaces
- Keeping your elbows bent for long periods of time
Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome can include weakness, pain in the hand, pain on the inner side of the elbow, numbness, and the feeling of the arm “falling asleep”. Cubital tunnel syndrome treatment options consist of cushioning the ulnar nerve with a protective splint or elbow pad, avoiding pressure to the elbow during daily activities, and taking anti-inflammatory medication. Surgery may be required to relieve nerve pressure in severe cases of pain, weakness or numbness.