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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

If you have ulnar nerve irritation at the elbow, the good news is, that Physical Therapy has been shown to have a high success rate with symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome often resolving within 2-3 months.

The ulnar nerve irritation is often caused by compression in the  cubital nerve tunnel at the elbow.

As the ulnar nerve passes through the cubital tunnel it has less space and can become compressed, especially if you hold your elbow in a flexed position which you may be doing out of habit or without realizing it while you sleep or hold your phone.

The other causes can be anything that narrows the tunnel space, such as previous fractures, dislocations, and arthritis. 

Common symptoms include:

Pins and needles or tingling in the little and ring finger.

Tenderness over the nerve on the inner elbow

A general aching in the elbow and forearm.

In more severe cases you may experience clawing of the little and ring finger

The outer part of your hand and further down your forearm may also be numb.

There are also some physical tests you can do to help you diagnose cubital tunnel syndrome. Like this one in this video

Your Ulnar nerve will settle down if you open up cubital tunnel and stop closing it. To achieve this you just need to avoid holding your elbow in flexed positions which might seem both simple and impractical at the same time.

Cue, RockTape! Yes once again a simple piece of strategically placed tape can really help. Let me show you how in this VIDEO

Application Instructions:

  1. Start with the elbow slightly flexed.
  2. Apply a piece of tape directly over the elbow with 60-70% stretch
  3. Rub the tape to secure it.
  4. Explain that the tape should prevent repeated or sustained elbow flexion during the day.

Reference: Shrivastava, N. and Szabo, R.M., 2008. Decision making in upper extremity entrapment neuropathies. The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine25(6), p.278.