Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome of the Arm
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one of the more well known hand ailments diagnosed in modern medicine. It’s relatively well known that repeated motions of the hand or wrist, resulting swollen and inflamed tendons, cause this syndrome. This inflammation causes pain and can limit mobility. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in many ways, even if it’s not quite as well known. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is also, generally, caused by repetitive motion (or can at least be exacerbated by such motion). The difference is that Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is usually caused by nerves in your arm.
Also known as “ulnar neuropathy,” Cubital Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the nerve around your funny bone (called the ulnar nerve) experiences an increase in pressure. This pressure can lead to a wide variety of symptoms both in the arm and in the hand. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome can be treated, and the overall treatment method will depend on how severe the symptoms are. In order to get the best treatment possible, you will want to consult with a hand specialist, such as Dr. Charles Polsen in Clear Lake, TX, in order to get the best possible results.
What Are the Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
The symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome may range from light to moderate to severe. The severity of the condition will, to a large degree, dictate the manifestation of symptoms. Most Cubital Tunnel Syndrome patients can expect to experience the following symptoms, however:
- Numbness around the elbow
- Pain around the elbow
- Tingling along the ring finger (most commonly) or along other fingers)
- Muscle degradation of the hand
- Claw-like deformation of the hand (in severe cases
- Weakening of the hand
- Tingling in the pinky or ring fingers
- Difficulty touching your thumb to your pinky or ring finger
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult with a hand surgeon, such as Dr. Polsen, immediately.
What Causes Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
It’s not always clear what causes Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, also known as ulnar neuropathy. We do know that this particular syndrome is typically caused by pressure on the ulnar nerve, and that pressure can cause the hand to experience tingling, numbness, or discomfort. But what causes this pressure is not always immediately apparent.
However, for some patients, there will be some likely causes, including:
- Certain movements of the elbow. For example, if a patient leaves the elbow in a bent position for extended periods of time, this could cause the nerve behind the elbow to stretch. And that can result in Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.
- Placement of the elbow on a hard surface can also increase the likelihood of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome-related symptoms. Leaning on the elbow this way can compress the nerve, therefore leading to symptoms.
- Extreme physical activity has also been shown to cause Cubital Tunnel Syndrome-related symptoms, at least in some cases. This is especially true when a twisting motion is involved, which can put pressure on ligaments in the elbow.
- In rare cases, abnormal bone growth in the elbow can put pressure on the ulnar nerve and cause Cubital Tunnel Syndrome-related symptoms.
In many cases, a combination of causes will lead to the development of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. For some, ceasing the inciting activity can lead to a diminishing in Cubital Tunnel Syndrome symptoms, but other patients may require therapies or treatments.
At a most fundamental level, pressure on the nerve is what causes Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. Patients who experience tingling or numbness of the fingers, especially when the elbow is bent, may wish to seek a diagnosis for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.
If you have questions about what might be causing your Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, contact the offices of Clear Lake Hand Center to schedule a consultation with Dr. Charles Polsen.
How is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Treated
As with many hand ailments, the treatment of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome will vary depending on the severity of your symptoms. Because Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is caused by pressure on the ulnar nerve, it will be vital to relieve that pressure. In some cases, this can be accomplished by changing your behavior or by wearing a protective pad over your elbow, where the nerve is most exposed. However, in more severe cases, surgery will be required to help alleviate the pressure on the ulnar nerve.
This surgery will either move the ulnar nerve to somewhere that it’s a bit more buffered from pressure or will remove some of the bone of the elbow in order to give the nerve more breathing room. As you recover from your surgery, you may be required to give your elbow and arm some time to heal (that is, there may be weight limitations placed on what you can lift). However, for many patients, this surgery is an essential part of getting their lives back on track.
It may be important to avoid the repetitive motion that caused or exacerbated the Cubital Tunnel Syndrome in the first place. To learn more about this condition, or how you can begin the process of healing, contact Clear Lake Hand Center. Dr. Polsen has a great deal of experience helping Cubital Tunnel Syndrome patients in the Houston area. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation.