Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition brought on by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve at the elbow. The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves in your arm. It travels from your neck down into your hand. The nerve is especially vulnerable to compression at the elbow, as here it must travel through a narrow space with very little soft tissue to protect it. Depending upon where the compression occurs, this pressure on the nerve can cause numbness or pain in your elbow, hand, wrist, or the small and ring fingers. Most of the symptoms occur in the hand.
- Previous injury to the elbow (fracture or dislocation)
- Fluid build-up in the elbow
- Keeping the elbow bent for long periods of time or repeatedly bending the elbow
- Direct hit to the elbow (hitting the funny bone)
Unless your nerve compression has caused a lot of muscle wasting, your doctor will most likely first recommend non-surgical treatment. When symptoms are severe or do not improve, surgery may be needed. The aim of physiotherapy is to reduce swelling around the ulnar nerve, and promote rehabilitation after surgery.
- Custom splinting or bracing
- Therapeutic exercises (to help gliding the nerve and to strengthen muscles after surgery)
- Range of motion exercises
- Education about relieving pressure on the nerve