Cubital Tunnel Syndrome


The cubital tunnel syndrome or the “ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow” is caused by an irritated or compressed nerve (ulnar) in your elbow. The ulnar nerve travels from your neck to your hand. It can become compressed in several locations such as at the wrist or under the collarbone (clavicle) however the most commonplace is located on the side part of your elbow. You may have symptoms like numbness and tingling in your hand, specifically the ring finger and little finger. Surgery may be suggested if you’re experiencing muscle weakness. If you’ve lived with cubital tunnel syndrome for a significant amount of time you may see muscle wasting in your hand. There’s a small chance that you will be able to gain that strength back. Cubital tunnel syndrome affects people of all ages and diagnosed in fewer than 25 cases for every 100,000 people.

There may be several reasons why you have pressure on the nerve in your elbow. Some people experience this cubital tunnel syndrome because when they bend their elbow the nerve must stretch over the bony bump in your elbow (medial epicondyle). This stretching can irritate the nerve. The nerve can slide out from the medial epicondyle when you bend your elbow which irritates the nerve as it goes back and forth. If you lean on your elbow for long periods of time this can put pressure on the nerve. You might hit the inside of your elbow which can cause pain or tingling. We know this feeling as hitting our funny bone.

You may be more at risk if you’ve previously dislocated your elbow, have bone spurs or arthritis in your elbow, swelling in the elbow joint, cyst near the elbow joint, or repetitive movements that require the elbow to flex and bend.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options

There are several remedies that you can do at home like:

  • Rest. Allow time for the body to heal without aggravating the injury further by allowing a child to continue playing a sport that requires throwing. This could lead to major complications.
  • Work Equipment.​ Ensure that your computer chair isn’t too low.
  • Be Aware.​​ Avoid leaning on your elbow and try to keep your arms straight at night.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medication. Give your child ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce inflammation and pain. Follow the package directions for quantity and how often to give it to your child.
  • Brace or Splint. In order to keep your elbow straight throughout the night, you may be asked to use a padded brace.
  • Nerve Gliding Exercise.​ Exercises help your ulnar nerve slide through the cubital tunnel.