What Is Ulnar Nerve Compression?

The ulnar nerve is one of the three primary nerves in the arm. This nerve travels from the neck down through the hand. The ulnar nerve controls sensations and movements for various parts of the hand. While this nerve can become compressed or constricted in multiple places, the most common compression point for the ulnar nerve is behind the interior part of the elbow, which explains cubital tunnel syndrome.

After carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve compression or cubital tunnel syndrome is the second most common entrapment of the nerve. This condition can be painful and result in tingling and numbness in the fingers and hand. The pain and discomfort is a direct result of the excessive pressure on the nerve.

Treatments for Ulnar Nerve Compression

One of the most common treatments for ulnar nerve compression is to wear a brace or splint. These devices are designed to reduce the pressure on the nerve. Braces and other supporting devices may be worn at night or during activities that may aggravate the symptoms. Utilizing an ice pack on the affected area may reduce swelling.

Physical therapy exercises that include strengthening and stretching may also be helpful. The physician may suggest both nonprescription and prescription medications to ease pain and decrease inflammation. Another common treatment is the use of corticosteroid injections directly into the cubital tunnel to minimize swelling and reduce the pressure on the nerve.

If the symptoms do not subside after multiple months of treatment, a surgical procedure may be necessary. The overall goal of the surgical procedure is ulnar nerve decompression, which may include relocating the nerve.

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