Cubital tunnel syndrome causes elbow pain and other unpleasant feelings due to compression of the ulnar nerve. If you have symptoms of this condition, expert hand and upper extremity surgeon Luke Nicholson, MD, can help. Dr. Nicholson has offices in Beverly Hills and at the Keck Medical Center in Downtown Los Angeles, California, where he offers both conservative and minimally invasive surgical solutions for patients with cubital tunnel syndrome. For exceptional care of your painful elbow, call Luke Nicholson MD or schedule a consultation using the online booking form today.
Cubital tunnel syndrome affects your elbow as a result of ulnar nerve compression. Your ulnar nerve travels down your arm from neck to hand, passing through the inside aspect of your elbow.
The space in your elbow for the ulnar nerve is particularly narrow, and there's minimal soft tissue. Therefore, the nerve is especially vulnerable to compression in the elbow joint.
The main cubital tunnel syndrome symptoms are numbness, tingling, and "pins and needles" in your ring and little fingers. The sensations may come and go but are more likely to be present when you bend your elbow. You may wake from sleep with numb fingers.
It can become increasingly difficult to move your fingers or coordinate them (for example when you use a keyboard), and your grip gets weaker as the condition progresses. Chronic nerve compression can lead to irreversible muscle wasting in your hand.
You might also experience aching and pain on the inside of your elbow.
If you see Dr. Nicholson before muscle wastage occurs, he can use nonsurgical treatments to address cubital tunnel syndrome.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce swelling around the ulnar nerve, and wearing a padded brace or splint at night keeps your elbow straight, minimizing nerve compression.
Physical therapy, including nerve gliding exercises, can also reduce nerve pressure and prevent arm and wrist stiffness. Injectable steroids, while effective, are rarely used due to the risk of nerve damage.
If you have muscle wastage or conservative treatments are proving ineffective, Dr. Nicholson might suggest surgery. Options include:
In this procedure, Dr. Nicholson cuts and divides the ligament in your cubital tunnel to increase the space for your ulnar nerve. Cubital tunnel release is best for mild to moderate nerve compression.
With this option, Dr. Nicholson moves the nerve from behind the medial epicondyle (part of the humerus bone in your elbow) and repositions it at the front. This procedure prevents the ulnar nerve from catching on the bony edge and stretching as you bend your elbow.
In this procedure, Dr. Nicholson removes part of your medial epicondyle to prevent the nerve from catching on the bone and stretching when you bend your elbow.
Dr. Nicholson performs these procedures using advanced anesthesia options tailored to each patient's precise needs. To find out more, call the office of Luke Nicholson MD or book an appointment online today.