CUBITAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

The ulnar nerve passes into the forearm running behind the bony prominence on the inner aspect of the elbow known as the medial epicondyle or "funny bone". As the nerve passes through this region it can become compressed causing pain, tingling and numbness, typically in the little and ring fingers. If the nerve is compressed for a prolonged period, weakness in the hand and permanent numbness in the little or ring finger can develop.

It is usually necessary to confirm the diagnosis through special tests on the nerve known as nerve conduction studies. Once confirmed, simple measures such as anti-inflammatories and activity modification can be tried, but it is usually necessary to proceed to an operation to decompress the nerve. This involves making an incision behind the elbow to release the nerve. Sometimes the nerve is found to be unstable and rides up over the bony prominence on the inner aspect of the elbow. In this situation it is necessary to move the position of the nerve so that it runs in front of the prominence, instead of behind it. This is known as an ulnar nerve transposition.

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