Cubital Canal Syndrome (Ulnar Syndrome)

Name: Cubital Canal Syndrome (Ulnar Syndrome)


Cubital tunnel syndrome (ulnar syndrome) is a condition that affects the ulnar nerve at the point where it crosses the inner surface of the elbow.

Causes of cubital tunnel syndrome

The size of the cubital canal allows the nerve to just pass between the bone and the ligament. Therefore, any, even non-cordial, external pressure can lead to nerve dysfunction. For example, if you lean with your hand with emphasis on the inside of the elbow. Due to the kink of the nerve over the bone, any prolonged flexion at the joint puts a strain on the nerve. This can happen in a dream, for example, when the brush is placed under the head. In some cases, a thickening of the nerve itself may occur, which also leads to the fact that it ceases to “fit” in the canal and is squeezed by its walls. If the nerve is periodically compressed, then gradually its susceptibility to pressure decreases and this leads to the development of the syndrome.

The main symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome

An early sign of cubital tunnel syndrome is numbness on the inside of the hand, as well as in the ring and little fingers. Numbness can turn into pain. Numbness is often felt after a long stay of the elbow in a bent position, for example, when talking on the phone or during sleep. The hand and thumb may become clumsy and awkward as the corresponding muscles are affected.

Treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome

In the initial stages of the disease, conservative treatment is carried out. Changing the load on the elbow, the maximum elimination of flexion in the elbow joint can significantly reduce pressure on the nerve. It is recommended to fix the elbow joint in extension for the night, keep the steering wheel of the car with arms extended at the elbows, straighten the elbow when using the computer mouse, etc.

If conservative treatment does not work, or the severity of the problem at the time of treatment is such that conservative treatment is not indicated, then surgery is performed. There are several techniques for surgical release of the nerve, but all of them, in one way or another, involve moving the nerve anteriorly from the internal epicondyle. After the operation, treatment is prescribed, aimed at the speedy restoration of conduction along the nerve. The numbness gradually disappears, the strength in the hand is restored.

Recovery usually takes 3 to 6 months. In severe cases, when there is muscle atrophy, even surgery does not lead to a complete restoration of function. The key to success is timely access to a doctor.

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