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CUBITAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that involves pressure or stretching of the ulnar nerve (also known as the “funny bone” nerve), which can cause numbness or tingling in the ring and small fingers, pain in the forearm, and/or weakness in the hand. The ulnar nerve runs in a groove on the inner side of the elbow.

ULNAR NERVE ANATOMY

DISEASE EXPLAINED

SYMPTOMS

Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause pain, loss of sensation, tingling and/or weakness. “Pins and needles” usually are felt in the ring and small fingers. These symptoms are often felt when the elbow is bent for a long period of time, such as while holding a phone or while sleeping. Some people feel weak or clumsy.

CAUSES

Pressure: The nerve has little padding over it. Direct pressure (like leaning the arm on an arm rest) can press the nerve, causing the arm and hand — especially the ring and small fingers — to “fall asleep.”

Stretching: Keeping the elbow bent for a long time can stretch the nerve behind the elbow. This can happen during sleep.

Anatomy: Sometimes, the ulnar nerve does not stay in its place and snaps back and forth over a bony bump as the elbow is moved. Repeated snapping can irritate the nerve. Sometimes, the soft tissues over the nerve become thicker or there is an “extra” muscle over the nerve that can keep it from working correctly.

TREATMENT OPTIONS

TREATMENT OPTIONS

The first treatment is to avoid actions that cause symptoms. Wrapping a pillow or towel loosely around the elbow or wearing a splint at night to keep the elbow from bending can help. Avoiding leaning on the “funny bone” can also help. A hand therapist can help you find ways to avoid pressure on the nerve.

Sometimes, surgery may be needed to relieve the pressure on the nerve. This can involve releasing the nerve, moving the nerve to the front of the elbow, and/or removing a part of the bone. Your surgeon will talk to you about options.

Therapy is sometimes needed after surgery, and the time it takes to recover can vary. Numbness and tingling may improve quickly or slowly. It may take many months for recovery after surgery. Cubital tunnel symptoms may not totally go away after surgery, especially if symptoms are severe.

CONTACTING DR. PERLMUTTER

Texting is preferred by Dr. Perlmutter for communication (717-836-6833). Please contact him ASAP, should you have any concerns whatsoever. Many patients fail to contact Dr. Perlmutter when they should have because they are "afraid of bothering him." This is a potentially dangerous attitude and Dr. Perlmutter will always welcome every opportunity to make his patients feel more comfortable. Please feel comfortable sending photographs to add perspective to your questions. Please turn on your flash, aim directly at the body part that you wish to show, and use an evenly colored, dark, and non-reflective background.

If you cannot text, you may call Dr. Perlmutter, however, you must use a confirmed caller ID unblocked telephone or he will not be able to return your call. If you need help turning off this feature you may:

1) Try pushing *82 prior to dialing, or

2) Use a different phone.

Your failure to do so will absolutely compromise your care and hurt your outcome!

If Dr. Perlmutter cannot be reached on his cell phone or by text, please contact the hospital operator to assist in reaching him or a member of his team. They can be reached at NASH: 252-962-8000. ECU Edgecombe: 252-641-7700.

IF YOU PERCEIVE AN EMERGENCY, PLEASE CALL 911 OR GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM ASAP.

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