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Conditions & Treatments

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Ulnar nerve entrapment is fairly common second only to carpal tunnel syndrome. It is also more common in pregnancy, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and in patients with occupations involve long periods of elbow flexion when you bend at the elbow and wrist flexion when you flex your wrist joint back toward your lower arm.

What is the ulnar nerve?

The ulnar nerve is a nerve that travels from the neck and runs along the inner side of the arm and forearm, to the hand. The ulnar nerve is also known as the “funny bone” because it can cause a tingling sensation when bumped. The ulnar nerve controls sensation in the little finger and half of the ring finger and provides motor control for the small muscles at the base of the hand.

What is ulnar nerve entrapment?

Ulnar nerve entrapment, also known as cubital tunnel syndrome, is a condition that occurs when the ulnar nerve in your elbow becomes compressed or otherwise irritated at the wrist or elbow. The nerve can be compressed anywhere along the way to your finger, but the most common site of compression is at the inside of the elbow.

What are the symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment?

The common symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment include numbness, and tingling in the hand and fingers, and may also include weakness or pain in the elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. You may also experience an aching sensation or burning pain along the inner side of your elbow. You may find that using or bending your elbow causes the symptoms to worsen.

What causes ulnar nerve entrapment?

Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve becomes compressed or injured at the elbow. This can occur due to leaning on your elbows for extended periods of time, or from an injury, such as a fracture or dislocation, trauma to the elbow can cause swelling which compresses the nerve. Sometimes the cause is unknown.

Prolonged use of hand tools or leaning on handlebars for prolonged bicycle rides can cause compression of the ulnar nerve at the wrist.

How is ulnar nerve entrapment diagnosed?

Your OANC orthopedic hand and wrist expert will diagnose you with ulnar nerve entrapment based on a detailed review of your medical history, physical examination and a neurological examination which may include nerve conduction studies. They may also order diagnostic imaging or other tests in order to confirm the diagnosis.

When you or a loved one suffers with numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers, contact OANC. We have fellowship-trained and board-certified hand and wrist specialists that can help you get back to the life you love. Contact us at our Chico, California office to schedule a consultation. A delay in diagnosis can increase the severity of the condition and make treatment more difficult.

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