Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Also known as: ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow

What is cubital tunnel syndrome?

The ulnar nerve is a mixed (sensory and motor) nerve that runs along the inner part of the elbow. If it gets compressed, the result can be cubital tunnel syndrome, which causes a number of symptoms in the arm and hand.

What causes cubital tunnel syndrome?

Pressure on the arm, such as leaning on it repeatedly, can cause cubital tunnel syndrome. It can also occur if the nerve gets stretched while bent or during an injury. Some people have anatomical issues that make them more prone to the disease.

What are the symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome?

Numbness or tingling, particularly in the ring and little fingers, is common with cubital tunnel syndrome. It may also cause a weak grip and poor finger coordination. Over time, muscle wasting in the hand can occur.

How can cubital tunnel syndrome affect children?

Cubital tunnel syndrome is much less common in children than adults.  Injuries to the ulnar nerve, however, can complicate the milestones of developing fine and gross motor skills that occur throughout childhood.

What are cubital tunnel syndrome treatments?

In some cases, simply avoiding practices that make cubital tunnel syndrome worse can help, such as avoiding leaning on the elbows, and wearing soft braces that prevent full elbow flexion and provide padding over the nerve.  Therapy may be recommended to provide custom splints and work on nerve gliding exercises.  If conservative measures fail, surgical treatment may be recommended. 

Reviewed by: Aaron Berger, MD

This page was last updated on: July 24, 2019 04:23 PM