If you work in a profession that requires repetitive arm movements, or if you regularly play a sport that stresses your upper extremities, you may have experienced pain or tingling in your fingers. But what exactly is causing it? Is it Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
While that is a possibility, you could also be feeling symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.
What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (also knowns as CTS or ulnar neuropathy) occurs when the ulnar nerve is compressed. This is a nerve that travels from your neck all the way down to your hands. When there is too much pressure on the inside of the elbow, it can cause tingling and numbness in the ring and small fingers.
Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
In addition to tingling in the ring and small fingers, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome may also cause:
- Loss of sensation in the hand and/or arm
- Tingling in the hand and/or arm
- Muscle weakness in the hand and/or arm
- Elbow pain
- Hand and/or arm pain
- Hand deformity
Causes and Risk Factors
The most common risk factors for developing Cubital Tunnel Syndrome include:
- Keeping arms bent regularly
- Leaning on the elbows for extended periods of time
- Intense physical activity
- Bone spurs
- Previous fractures or dislocations of the elbow
- Pulling, lifting, or reaching for items on a continuous basis
- Using vibrating tools on a regular basis
- Lifting weights that are too heavy
Exercises for Relief
If your symptoms are mild, there are several exercises you can do to promote mobility and release compression. See examples of these movements here.
Home Remedies for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
While there are home remedies for relieving some of the CTS symptoms, if they don’t improve within a week or two, seek medical attention. That being said, some of the following home remedies may help to alleviate mild symptoms:
- Apply ice to the area
- Wear a splint around the affected arm
- Rest elbows over pillows
- Avoid activities that worsen the symptoms
Your medical provider may conduct nerve tests to determine whether there is compression of the ulnar nerve. They may also want to see X-rays to rule out any underlying bone issues that could be causing CTS.
Treatment for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Treatment includes anti-inflammatory medications, splinting, steroid injections, or physical therapy. Patients may also benefit from using elbow pads when resting their arms on hard surfaces. Cubital Tunnel Release surgery is an option; however, it is typically considered as a last resort.
Prevention of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
If sports or exercise caused the condition, remember to warm up adequately before each workout. If it’s due to an underlying medical condition, such as arthritis or bone spurs, be sure to keep it under control to prevent it from progressing.
Avoid leaning on your elbows on a regular basis, since this is a known cause of compression of the ulnar nerve.
When to See a Doctor
If home remedies and exercises don’t alleviate symptoms, or if they worsen after a couple of days, seek medical attention. Not doing so could result in permanent nerve damage.
Recovery varies from patient to patient. However, if you have undergone surgery, activity will be significantly limited for up to six weeks after. Work duties should be modified to accommodate this rest period and driving should be avoided when possible.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re experiencing symptoms related to Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.