The cubital tunnel is a narrow tube of tissue at your elbow that contains the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve runs from your shoulder down to your wrist and controls movement in your ring and pinky fingers. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a type of nerve entrapment that forms when this tunnel swells, putting pressure on the ulnar nerve, causing pain and numbness in the hand and fingers.
Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause the following symptoms:
- Tingling in the ring and pinky fingers, making it more difficult to use them
- Numbness in the ring and pinky fingers
- Weakness in the hands
The cubital tunnel is more likely to swell if
- You sleep or lean on your elbow for too long
- You bend the elbow back and forth repeatedly
- Fluid builds up in the elbow
- You hit or fall on the elbow with force
Other conditions that can contribute to the development of cubital tunnel syndrome include elbow arthritis, fractures, cysts, and bone spurs.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
Treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome depends on how severely your nerve is compressed and whether you are beginning to develop muscle weakness. Nonsurgical treatment options may include
- Injections of steroids or anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
If nonsurgical treatment does not relieve your symptoms, or your muscles are weakening too much, you may need surgery. Surgical options can relieve symptoms by:
- Widening the cubital tunnel to release the pressure on your nerve
- Moving the nerve so it is more protected from injury
Learn more about MedStar Georgetown’s approach to minimally invasive nerve surgery.