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What is cubital tunnel syndrome?

| Mar 14, 2019 | workers' compensation

Though it receives much attention as an injury occurring frequently in workplaces across Arizona, carpal tunnel syndrome is not the only upper extremity complaint that can result from stress or overuse. Another such condition is cubital tunnel syndrome, which sounds similar to carpal tunnel syndrome but affects the elbow rather than the wrist. 

According to WebMD, because cubital tunnel syndrome results from increased pressure on the ulnar nerve, another term for it is ulnar neuropathy. The ulnar nerve is actually the culprit behind the tingling and pain that results from a blow to your “funny bone.” It is vulnerable to both sudden and gradual damage from impact and pressure because of its proximity to the surface of the skin. 

Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include tingling in the small and ring fingers of the hand and sensations of numbness or pain in the area of the elbow. Left untreated, ulnar neuropathy can cause a claw-like deformity of the hand, muscle wasting and loss of grip strength. 

Activities that can cause cubital tunnel syndrome include intense physical activity, prolonged bending of your elbow or resting it on a hard surface. Therefore, you are at risk of developing ulnar neuropathy if you have a job that requires you to perform intense, repetitive motion of the upper extremity, if you spend a lot of time at work talking on the phone with your arm bent at the elbow or if most of your workday involves typing on a computer keyboard while resting your elbow on a desk or uncushioned armrest.

Conservative treatments for cubital tunnel syndrome include the application of heat or cold packs, strengthening and stretching exercises, medications to relieve inflammation and ergonomic education. If these measures do not help, surgical treatment may be able to relieve the pressure on the ulnar nerve. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.