The ulnar nerve runs the entire length of the arm, there are several places along the nerve that can become compressed or irritated. This compression or irritation is known as ulnar nerve entrapment. Ulnar nerve entrapment is the second most common entrapment nerve pain in the upper body. Ulnar nerve entrapment happens most often at or near the elbow, particularly on the inner part of the elbow. This is known as cubital tunnel syndrome. Ulnar nerve entrapment can also happen less frequently at or near the wrist.
- Intermittent numbness and tingling in the ring and pinky fingers
- A weak grip in the affected hand
- A feeling of the pinkie and ring fingers “falling asleep”
- Difficulty controlling fingers for precise tasks, such as typing or playing an instrument
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Pain or tenderness in the elbow joint, especially along the inner aspect
- In severe and long-standing cases, muscle wasting of the hand may also occur.
Treatment for ulnar nerve entrapment depends on how severe the entrapment is.
Initial treatments for ulnar nerve entrapment may include anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy.
use of anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling
elbow braces or splints to keep the joint straight at night
exercises and physical therapy to help the nerve slide through the arm correctly
If the ulnar nerve entrapment is severe or nonsurgical approaches to treatment fail, a doctor may recommend surgery to fix ulnar nerve entrapment.
By: Rajni Bala, NP, RN