Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition where the ulnar nerve – one of the main nerves supplying the hand – is compressed at the level of the elbow joint. There is usually no obvious cause but the point of compression is a ligament passing over the nerve. The symptoms are pain, tingling and numbness of the ring and little fingers, and occasionally weakness and clumsiness in the hand.
Nerve conduction tests are usually necessary to confirm the diagnosis of cubital tunnel syndrome, and sometimes imaging in the form of ultrasound or MRI will be required.
In mild or very early cubital tunnel syndrome, non-operative treatment may be suggested, with splinting and activity modulation to prevent activities where the elbow is very flexed which can exacerbate the condition. If the symptoms are more severe, then surgery is required to release the ligament compressing the nerve. Sometimes it is also necessary to bring the nerve round to the front of the elbow where it is under less tension. This is known as a transposition of the nerve.
Surgery for cubital tunnel syndrome is generally very effective, but occasionally there can be some persistent pain in the scar at the elbow which can last for several months.