When a person wakes up in the morning and their ring finger and pinky finger are numb and tingling, as if they’re still asleep, that is a symptom of cubital tunnel syndrome – also called ulnar nerve entrapment. If you’ve been lying down with your elbow bent behind your head, or if you’ve been leaning with your elbow on a table, half of your hand may fall asleep due to a pinching of the ulnar nerve in the cubital tunnel.
Cubital tunnel syndrome is when the ulnar nerve is pinched somewhere in the cubital tunnel, usually in the elbow. The ulnar nerve passes behind and through the elbow, and it is also casually termed as the “funny bone.”
What Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
This syndrome can be a progressive problem and can eventually impact grip strength. If the ulnar nerve is frequently pinched and becomes compressed, it can develop into a debilitating condition. A skilled orthopedist can treat cubital tunnel syndrome and help it heal, and prevent it from becoming worse.
Ulnar nerve compression can cause symptoms like tingling and burning in the forearm. If you experience these sensations repeatedly or for an extended period of time, it will be best to seek medical treatment. Long-term nerve compression can cause permanent damage.
How Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Different from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common and causes similar symptoms. It causes numbness and tingling in the thumb, index finger, and middle finger; it can also affect the palm of the hand.
The carpal tunnel is located on the palm side of the wrist, and compression of the median nerve within that tunnel causes this issue. Just like cubital tunnel syndrome, it can cause permanent nerve damage if left untreated.
Is There Treatment for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
Wearing an arm splint that prohibits the elbow from bending will help the area heal and prevent the nerve from further pinching. Your orthopedist may also recommend physical therapy. If noninvasive methods like this do not help your symptoms improve, your doctor may recommend steroid injections. Surgery may be necessary to relieve the ulnar nerve from the impingement.
To prevent the condition from developing, avoid leaning on car armrests for long periods of time, and do not sit on a low chair while at the computer. If you spend much of the day on the phone, use a headset rather than a handset.
People who have dislocated or fractured an elbow, have bone spurs in the elbow, or have swelling in the elbow are at a greater risk of developing cubital tunnel syndrome. Your orthopedist can provide the most minimally invasive treatment possible that will help relieve your symptoms and prevent further nerve damage. When it is caught early, the symptoms may be able to be completely relieved.
Orthopedic Surgeons in Greater Cleveland
If pain or problems in the arm, fingers, or hand prohibit you from performing normal daily duties, or if you are developing sensations of numbness, tingling, or weakness, see a skilled orthopedist.
Contact our experienced team at Orthopaedic Associates today by calling us at (440) 892-1440 or request an appointment online. If you are tired of waking up not being able to feel portions of your hand each morning, or if it is worsening, we can help you feel as good as new!