Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve gets compressed or irritated in the cubital tunnel at the elbow. It is also known as Ulnar Neuropathy. It causes symptoms of pain, numbness, or pins and needles sensation in the ring and little finger. In severe cases, weakness in the small muscles of the hand occurs that helps with the grip. Also, finger coordination and the ability to pinch the thumb and the little finger become difficult.
People with diabetes and those who have sustained injuries or degenerative change around the elbow are also at increased risk.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome results from repetitive elbow bending and leaning on it on hard surfaces, direct trauma to the elbow, intense gripping while driving, and sleeping with elbow bent. People with previous elbow fracture or dislocation, bone spurs/osteoarthritis, swelling, and cyst around elbow joint are at risk of developing Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.
Following Exercises help in easing the pain of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome-
- Ulnar nerve gliding exercises–
- With your arm extended straight in front of you and the palm facing up, curl your wrist and fingers toward your palm, then bend them away from you, and then slowly and gently bend your elbow. These exercises help in promoting blood flow to the ulnar nerve and stretching it gently.
- Start with the affected arm out to the side, with elbow straight and arm level with your shoulder. Make an O with the thumb and index finger while keeping the forearm in neutral, now bend the elbow to bring the O up to the shoulder. Hold for 5 seconds and return to the original position. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Elbow ROM exercises– With elbow straightened out alongside your body with a slightly clenched fist, bend the elbow bringing the fist to shoulder, and relax. Repeat ten times.
- Supination-Pronation– With the elbow bent at 90 degrees alongside your body and palms facing upwards, twist the forearm so that palms face down to the floor, and go back to the starting position. Repeat ten times.
- Fist making-Make a fist and open it with fingers spread wide apart. Repeat 5-10 times.
Other things to be considered-
- Resting is crucial- Any activity that aggravates the condition should not be done. Avoid repetitive elbow bending and putting excessive pressure on elbows by leaning on them. Avoid typing and driving for extended periods.
- Use elbow pads to protect against chronic irritation from hard surfaces.
- Apply ice compresses wrapped in a cloth or towel to the area for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Wearing a splint at night to keep the elbow from bending while sleeping helps as it reduces ulnar nerve irritation.
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