Cubital tunnel syndrome refers to the pinched ulnar nerve at the elbow. The ulnar nerve provides motor and sensory functions to parts of forearm and finger. The ulnar nerve passes through a narrow space at the elbow, called cubital tunnel.
Numbness on the inside of hand, 4th and 5th finger, especially when bending the elbow
Difficulty with grip
Trauma -- direct nerve damage due to a fracture or dislocation of the elbow
Overuse -- repetitive bending of
the elbow or other use of the elbow in a prolonged bending
- When the elbow is bent, the space of the cubital tunnel is decreased and the ulnar nerve is stretched. Repetitive bending of the elbow may chronically irritate the ulnar nerve. If the condition worsens, the ulnar nerve will lose the function eventually. It is usually related with the jobs requiring a repetitive or prolonged bending motion of the elbow.
History of elbow overuse or trauma
Nerve conduction study
Conservative treatment -- rest the affected arm in a night-time splint to keep the elbow straight. Minor modification of the workspace along with activity level allows the patient to avoid the excessive bending of elbow, preventing recurrence.
Surgery -- if the conservative treatment doesn't work, then surgery may be suggested to release the ulnar nerve from the compression at the cubital tunnel. Physical therapy is necessary to strengthen the muscles in the hand.