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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that involves pressure or stretching of the ulnar nerve (also known as the “funny bone” nerve), which can cause numbness or tingling in the ring and small fingers, pain in the forearm, and/or weakness in the hand. The ulnar nerve (Figure 1) runs in a groove on the inner side of the elbow.

Ulnar nerve at elbow joint (inner side of elbow), which is involved in cubital tunnel syndrome

Causes

There are a few causes of this ulnar nerve problem. These include:

  • Pressure: The nerve has little padding over it. Direct pressure (like leaning the arm on an arm rest) can press the nerve, causing the arm and hand — especially the ring and small fingers — to “fall asleep.”
  • Stretching: Keeping the elbow bent for a long time can stretch the nerve behind the elbow. This can happen during sleep.

Signs and Symptoms

Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause pain, loss of sensation, tingling and/or weakness. “Pins and needles” usually are felt in the ring and small fingers. These symptoms are often felt when the elbow is bent for a long period of time, such as while holding a phone or while sleeping. Some people feel weak or clumsy.