What is ulnar neuritis?
Ulnar neuritis, or cubital tunnel syndrome, is inflammation of the ulnar nerve in the arm that results in numbness or weakness in the hand. The ulnar nerve is more commonly thought of as the “funny bone” and gives feeling to the little finger and half of the ring finger. It also controls most of the little muscles in the hand that help with fine movements and some of the bigger muscles in the forearm that help you make a strong grip.
What causes ulnar neuritis?
Ulnar neuritis is usually caused by activities that place constant pressure against the ulnar nerve at the elbow or wrist. Ulnar neuritis may also be caused by repetitive motion at the elbow or wrist
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of ulnar neuritis include elbow pain and tenderness, forearm pain, hand numbness, and hand weakness. It can cause a weakening of the grip and difficulty with finger coordination.
If the nerve is very compressed or has been compressed for a long time, irreversible muscle atrophy in the hand can occur. So, it’s important to see your doctor if symptoms are severe or if they have been present for more than six weeks.
How is it diagnosed?
After discussing your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will examine your arm and hand to determine which nerve is compressed and where it is compressed. This includes tapping over the nerve at the funny bone, checking to see if the ulnar nerve slides out of position when you bend your elbow, and checking for feeling and strength in your hands and fingers. Electrodiagnostic studies, such as electromyograms (EMGs) and nerve conduction studies (NCS), may also be used to further evaluate nerve function.
How is it treated?
Treatment for ulnar neuritis may include rest, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, an elbow splint, a sling, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Severe ulnar neuritis may require injections of corticosteroid medication or surgery.