What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
The Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a medical condition that is referred by most medical practitioners as ulnar nerve entrapment. The condition is brought by the increase pressure on the ulnar nerve (nerve that is situated alongside the ulna bone). The path along the cubital tunnel is obstructed, thus causing for the syndrome. The compression can lead to the sensations of pins or needles in a person’s fingers. The condition was firstly identified and used in medical term by Feindel and Stratford in the year 1958. They presented that the condition is caused by the ulnar nerve compression.
The cubital tunnel syndrome is a common condition to those people who are exposed to long periods of bending ones elbows. Those who commonly flex their elbows on a hard surface are made prone to such condition. Those who have a clear damage to their elbows are believed to be at risk for developing such condition. According to reports, the condition greatly affects men than women.
The condition can be diagnosed through a simple test. Assessment of the ulnar nerve is done. Specifically, the condition shall result to numbness of the fourth and fifth fingers before cubital tunnel syndrome is considered. Radiographic studies can also be done and can obtain diagnosis by checking presence of trauma or arthritis. MRI can also diagnose for specific damage or entrapment to the ulnar nerve. Electomyogram can also assist in the diagnosis if cubital tunnel syndrome. This involves muscle assessment.
Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
The presenting symptoms of the disease process truly depend on the nerve that has been affected. Here are the following presenting symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome:
- Numbness or tingling sensation of the pinky and some part of the ring ringer. The back of the hand shall also radiate with tingling sensation. Others would describe the sensation as pins and needles being inflicted in the areas or sometimes referred as funny bone.
- Late stage would present for the curling up of the pinky and ring finger. This is believed to be a sign of a great nerve affectation. Pain may also accompany the discomfort.
The condition is primarily caused by the constriction of the ulnar nerve as environmental factors assist in doing so. This is mostly associated with the increase exposure of the elbow from hard surfaces and from its increased flexion and extension movements. Increasing pressure at the ulnar nerve can precipitate to the development of the condition. Frequent bending of the elbow does pave a way for developing cubital tunnel syndrome. Because of this, depletion of the purpose of the ulnar nerve is attained.
The treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome is quite aimed in reducing and alleviating the presenting symptoms. Here are the following interventions for cubital tunnel syndrome:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
These can help in alleviating the pain and inflammation that took place in the affected area.
Take good care of one’s elbow. This should be done during sleep and in activities.
This is done by decompression. In situ decompression is a form of surgical intervention for cubital tunnel syndrome. The only complication for surgical intervention of cubital syndrome includes further damage to the neighboring nerves that may cause for additional problems.
Prevention of the condition can be attained through avoiding of the elbow from being frequently exposed to hard surfaces. When using the phone, leaning of the elbow to the hard surface should be avoided. Proper usage of the elbow and arms is a must.
As mentioned above, the surgical intervention for cubital tunnel syndrome includes in situ decompression. In this intervention, the possibility of affecting the neighboring nerves is present. But the success of the operation can deal a lot for a better prognosis of the condition. After the surgical intervention for cubital syndrome has been done, it has been noted that after three days the patients can then start for their proposed rehabilitation. This is necessary in order to avoid complications and that complete strength shall be attained in the affected area.
Fortunately, exercise regimen was developed in the aim of treating or alleviating the symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. It has been a focus of the exercise to relieve the pain and sensation felt when attack of cubital syndrome takes place. The exercise should be done or complied to be done three times a day. This can then reward the affected with more strength and good sensations to the fingers. Here are the following exercises indicated for cubital tunnel syndrome:
- Ulnar nerve glide – This is done by placing the arms out to the sides. Place the palms in a “stop” position or bending the wrist to form a stop sign. After that, slowly bend the elbows while reaching for the back of the ears. This should be repeated many times, 10 times max.
- Adduction and abduction. This is done with the affected fingers.
- Extension of the arm with the elbow straight can put out a little tension. Bending them alongside will provide sensations that provide relief.
Remember that we should not strain one in performing the exercises indicated for cubital tunnel syndrome. It is recommended that we avoid taking action when one is in pain. The most important thing to remember is to prevent further damage of the affected area.
The affected shall attain full recovery if the damage has not been permanently inflicted. There are cases where the patient had an advanced condition and that would result to the condition, cubital tunnel syndrome. It is essential that he or she should be treated firstly with the underlying condition. Those who have intermittent symptoms, recovery can then be attained easily.