Treating Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Pain in your elbow – in the area known as the funny bone may require nerve surgery to resolve. Dr. Tim Tollestrup’s team has experiencing helping patients with Cubital Tunnel issues. Surgical options for treatment can be discussed when you meet with Dr. Tim Tollestrup and his team.
What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
From the American Society for Surgery of the Hand: Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that involves pressure or stretching of the ulnar nerve (also known as the “funny bone” nerve), which can cause numbness or tingling in the ring and small fingers, pain in the forearm, and/or weakness in the hand. The ulnar nerve (Figure 1) runs in a groove on the inner side of the elbow.
A few causes of this ulnar nerve problem include:
- Pressure: The nerve has little padding over it. Direct pressure (like leaning the arm on an arm rest) can press the nerve, causing the arm and hand — especially the ring and small fingers — to “fall asleep.”
- Stretching: Keeping the elbow bent for a long time can stretch the nerve behind the elbow. This can happen during sleep.
- Anatomy: Sometimes, the ulnar nerve does not stay in its place and snaps back and forth over a bony bump as the elbow is moved. Repeated snapping can irritate the nerve. Sometimes, the soft tissues over the nerve become thicker or there is an “extra” muscle over the nerve that can keep it from working correctly.
Signs and Symptoms
Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause pain, loss of sensation, tingling and/or weakness. “Pins and needles” usually are felt in the ring and small fingers. These symptoms are often felt when the elbow is bent for a long period of time, such as while holding a phone or while sleeping. Some people feel weak or clumsy.
Dr. Tim Tollestrup and his team can learn much by asking you about your symptoms and examining you. We might test you for other medical problems like diabetes or thyroid disease. Sometimes, nerve testing (EMG/NCS) may be needed to see how much the nerve and muscle are being affected. This test also checks for other problems such as a pinched nerve in the neck, which can cause similar symptoms.
Nerve Surgery as an Option
Sometimes, surgery may be needed to relieve the pressure on the nerve. This can involve releasing the nerve, moving the nerve to the front of the elbow, and/or removing a part of the bone. During your consultation, we’ll inform you of all of your options.