Understanding Ulnar Wrist and Elbow Neuropathy

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the wrist, hand, thumb, and the two fingers next to it. Many people have experienced this type of neuropathy. However, not as many people are familiar with ulnar wrist and elbow neuropathy. This type of neuropathy could be considered the mirror image of carpal tunnel. It affects the ring and pinky fingers and the outer part of the hand. There are two different things that can cause ulnar neuropathy. If you’ve had pain, numbness, or tingling in this part of your hand, it may be time to see out a Broomfield neuropathy treatment specialist.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

The first of the two causes of ulnar neuropathy is cubital tunnel syndrome. It’s very similar to carpal tunnel syndrome. In carpal tunnel, the median nerve that runs down the arm to the thumb is compressed by the carpal tunnel. This pressure causes the pain, tingling, and numbness that carpel tunnel is known for.

Cubital tunnel syndrome is basically the same thing, only the nerve being compressed is the ulnar nerve. This nerve runs from the spinal cord down the arm. It’s the nerve responsible for the feeling on the back of your hand, and it plays a part in straightening your fingers, too.

With cubital tunnel syndrome, the compression of the nerve occurs near the elbow. Many people who talk on the phone a lot without a headset experience cubital tunnel syndrome because they’re holding their elbow up and in the same position for long periods of time.

The pain from cubital tunnel can be so bad that it makes it difficult to sleep. In addition to causing pain in the elbow and in your hands, it can also cause pain in your forearm. In extreme situations, it can even cause atrophy in your hand.

Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome

With ulnar tunnel syndrome, the affected nerve is the ulnar nerve. This nerve provides feeling in the ring and pinky finger. This nerve makes it possible to spread your fingers out. The ulnar nerve is often compressed at the wrist where it travels through what’s known as Guyon’s canal. This inflammation can be caused by repetitive movements that are fairly jarring. For example, hammering for hours at a time can lead to ulnar tunnel syndrome. Putting consistent pressure on your wrist can also cause this condition.

Those dealing with ulnar tunnel syndrome will feel pain, tingling, and weakness in the outer part of the hand and in the two smallest fingers. They may also experience weakness and, in very severe cases, may even find it very difficult to straighten out their fingers.

How Is Ulnar Neuropathy Treated?

The first step to treating this type of neuropathy is diagnosis. Generally, a physical exam is all that’s necessary. In some cases, you may also need to get a nerve conduction test or an electromyogram, especially if your symptoms are fairly severe.

The main step to treating both cubital and ulnar tunnel syndrome is to rest your elbow or wrist. Sleep with a brace and wear one whenever possible. In some cases, you may need to work with your employer to change some of your job duties, at least temporarily. Over-the-counter medications can also help.

Like carpal tunnel, there is a surgical treatment for cubital and ulnar tunnel. Most doctors see this as a last resort, but those with severe symptoms are likely to need it. This surgery is designed to decompress the affected nerve. In some cases, surgery may also be needed to release the affected ligaments so the fingers can stretch and move again.

Are You Concerned about Ulnar Neuropathy?

If you believe you’re suffering from cubital or ulnar tunnel syndrome, don’t wait for it to get worse. Contact Fox Integrated Healthcare today to set up a consultation.