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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome (CuTS), also known as ulnar neuropathy, is a condition that affects the ulnar nerve causing pain, numbness, pain, and a variety of other symptoms. The ulnar nerve runs from the neck to the hand and passes through a narrow tunnel of tissue on the inside of the elbow called the cubital tunnel. When the ulnar nerve becomes compressed or irritated in this area, it can cause a range of symptoms in the arm, wrist, and hand.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome can cause painful symptoms in the hand and elbow
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome can cause painful symptoms in the hand and elbow

What are the causes of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

  • Repetitive or prolonged bending of the elbow - Repeatedly bending the elbow can put pressure on the ulnar nerve, leading to irritation and inflammation.
  • Direct injury to the elbow - A blow or trauma to the elbow can cause damage to the ulnar nerve and lead to cubital tunnel syndrome.
  • Arthritis - Arthritis in the elbow joint can cause inflammation and swelling, putting pressure on the ulnar nerve.
  • Bone spurs or cysts - These growths can develop in the cubital tunnel and compress the ulnar nerve.
  • Ganglion cysts - These fluid-filled sacs can form around the ulnar nerve and cause pressure on the nerve.

What are the symptoms of CuTS?

  • Numbness or tingling in the ring and little fingers.
  • Pain or discomfort in the elbow.
  • Weakness in the hand or fingers, especially when gripping or pinching.
  • Difficulty with fine motor tasks, such as buttoning a shirt or typing.
  • Clumsiness or dropping things.
  • A feeling of pins and needles or electric shocks in the affected area.

How is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome diagnosed?

When diagnosing CuTS, your provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical examination. They may also order diagnostic tests, such as nerve conduction studies or electromyography, to evaluate the function of the ulnar nerve and determine the extent of any nerve damage.

What treatments are available for CuTS?

Treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome will depend on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. In some cases, simply avoiding the activities that cause the symptoms may be enough to alleviate the condition. Other treatments may include:

  • Rest and immobilization - Resting the affected arm and wearing a splint or brace can help to reduce pressure on the ulnar nerve and allow it to heal.
  • Physical therapy - A physical therapist can provide exercises to help strengthen the muscles in the hand and wrist, improve range of motion, and reduce pressure on the ulnar nerve.
  • Medications - Over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications may help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid injections - Injecting a corticosteroid medication into the affected area can help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Surgery - In severe cases of cubital tunnel syndrome, surgery such as cubital tunnel release may be necessary to release pressure on the ulnar nerve. During the procedure, the surgeon will make an incision in the cubital tunnel and remove any tissue or growths that are compressing the nerve.

If you believe you may have cubital tunnel syndrome, or any other painful orthopedic or spine condition, the team at Total Spine has you covered. Our board-certified physicians are experts in treating all kinds of painful symptoms, conditions, and more. See the Total Spine difference for yourself by calling our patient advocate team at (321) 499-4646 or by filling out the form on this page.

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