Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

 

Overview

The ulnar nerve is an integral component of your arm and one of the largest nerves in your entire body. It is also susceptible to pressure. When pressure occurs in the elbow, you can develop a condition called cubital tunnel syndrome.

 

Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome the Same as Tennis Elbow?

No, tennis elbow is a different condition than cubital tunnel syndrome. Tennis elbow is a condition called lateral epicondylitis that causes inflammation of the tendons connected to the forearm.

 

What's the Difference Between Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve in the elbow is compressed. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in your forearm becomes compressed. 

With both conditions, you may feel tingling or numbness in the hand. However, cubital tunnel syndrome often affects the ring and pinky finger, and carpal tunnel syndrome typically affects the thumb, index, and middle fingers. 

 

How Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?

Cubital tunnel syndrome is diagnosed by physical exam. Beyond that, imaging like an MRI may be used to evaluate the cause for nerve compression.

Often, electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction study (NCS) is recommended to evaluate the function or damage to the nerve.

 

Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Symptoms

Causes

More research is needed to determine the risk of developing cubital tunnel syndrome. Extended pressure on the ulnar nerve is one potential cause. Trauma may also lead to the development of this condition.

How Can I Avoid Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

In some cases, cubital tunnel syndrome is unavoidable. Avoided unneeded pressure on the ulnar nerve may help prevent this condition.

 

Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Permanent?

Cubital tunnel syndrome can leave permanent damage if left untreated; however, the condition itself is not permanent.

An elbow doctor may offer surgical or non-invasive treatment options for cubital tunnel syndrome. Sometimes the condition may heal on its own, but it is best to prepare for all outcomes.

 

When Should You Seek Treatment?

Below are a few signs you should seek treatment for your pain. You cannot be overly cautious with joint pain. Please seek treatment to avoid permanent damage to your elbow.

 

What Kind of Doctor Treats Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

An orthopedic doctor subspecialized in sports medicine or surgery of the elbow may offer the most effective treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome. Subspecialized orthopedists receive additional training in treating specific body parts like the elbow.

 

How Do Orthopedists Treat Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

Temporary relief:

Oral steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), topical NSAIDs, pillow splints, and rest are treatment options that may offer temporary relief from your symptoms.

Permanent relief:

For permanent relief, an orthopedic doctor may decompress the nerve (neurolysis) or perform a transposition of the ulnar nerve to relieve pressure.

 

Am I a Candidate for Cubital Tunnel Surgery?

Visiting an orthopedic elbow doctor near you will be the best way to find out if you are a candidate for cubital tunnel surgery. An elbow specialist will be able to evaluate your pain and decide if the diagnosis warrants surgical intervention and confirm whether you are a candidate for surgery.

 

Is Cubital Tunnel Sydrome Preventable?

Cubital tunnel syndrome can't always be prevented, but here are some tips to reduce your risk of developing the condition:

 

Request an Appointment with an Elbow Doctor in Nashville, TN

Our Nashville orthopedic surgeons include several elbow specialists. If you are suffering from elbow pain in Nashville, TN, you can request an appointment online or by giving us a call.

If you are experiencing joint pain outside of Middle Tennessee, you should seek treatment from an orthopedist near you.

 

References

“Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at the Elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome) - OrthoInfo - AAOS.” OrthoInfo, orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/ulnar-nerve-entrapment-at-the-elbow-cubital-tunnel-syndrome/.

Author
Nick Flory Nick is the Marketing Manager for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. He has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2018. https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholasflory/

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