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ulnar nerve entrapment

The Basics 

Ulnar nerve entrapment, also known as cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the ulnar nerve becomes compressed or irritated at the elbow.

 

The ulnar nerve is located in the posterior aspect of the elbow and is responsible for providing sensation to the small finger and half of the ring finger.

 

Additionally, the ulnar nerve intervates the muscles of the forearm and hand that are responsible for forearm flexion and fine motor skills of the hand. 

ulnar nerve glide related to ulnar nerve entrapment
Elbow anatomy related to ulnar nerve entrapment
Signs and symptoms 

Numbness or tingling in the small and ring finger is the most common symptom of cubital tunnel syndrome. In severe cases, cubital tunnel syndrome can cause weakness in the hand. 

Diagnosis can be made with physical examination, x-rays and nerve conduction studies. 

Treatment

Many patients will respond well to non-surgical treatment measures.

 

These conservative measures consist of sleeping in a night brace to keep the elbow straight, physical therapy, activity modification, oral or topical anti-inflammatories.

 

Nerve glide exercises may also be recommended by your provider or physical therapist. 

rock climbing related to ulnar nerve entrapment
Surgery

Surgical management is reserved for those that have failed all conservative measures, have significant nerve entrapment and those who are developing weakness in the hand due to cubital tunnel syndrome. 

A cubital tunnel release procedure can be performed in which the ligaments that make up the roof of the tunnel in which the ulnar nerve runs, are cut and divided releasing pressure on the ulnar nerve. 

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