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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (Ulnar Nerve Compression at the Elbow)


The ulnar nerve supplies sensation to these areas and explains the symptoms you may be experiencing.

In cubital tunnel syndrome, one of the nerves of the arm and hand, the ulnar nerve, is compressed as it passes behind the elbow. This is the same nerve that causes the tingling feeling of hitting your “funny bone.” When struck, this causes a shooting sensation and tingling in the hand and the little and ring fingers.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the hand, including the little and ring fingers
  • Weakness of the muscles in the hand.

These muscles, called the intrinsic muscles of the hand, help with finger movements and the strength of your grip. More severe cases of cubital tunnel syndrome may also lead to weakness of muscles in the forearm.

Treatment usually begins with splinting the elbow, especially at night, and anti-inflammatory medications. If these treatments fail, surgery may be necessary, but this is uncommon. Surgery involves either releasing the ulnar nerve from the compression, or actually moving the nerve (an ulnar nerve transposition) to allow more room for the nerve to move behind the elbow.

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