MedClinic > Blog > Neurosurgery > Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is the result of damage to the nerve ends passing through the elbow joint. The nerve root is compressed, which leads to the appearance of severe pain, inability to make bending movements with an injured elbow. Cubital tunnel syndrome provokes pain similar in sensations to the feeling when a person hits the elbow hard.

Why does it happen?

Damage to the nerve of the elbow joint occurs for the following reasons:

  • degenerative pathological processes in the elbow joint;
  • continuous execution of monotonous movements with the elbow;
  • traumatic injuries;
  • professional sports training;
  • peculiarities of labor activity (cubital tunnel syndrome often occurs in drivers, people working at the table).

Clinical picture

Symptoms of the cubital tunnel syndrome have the following manifestations:

  • numbness in the elbow extending to the whole arm below the elbow – wrist, little finger;
  • pain when moving the elbow;
  • stiffness of movements;
  • muscle weakness in the arm;
  • these signs increase in intensity during sleep when the elbow joint is stationary for a long time;
  • difficulties with performing simple household movements – raise a cup, take a bag.

The localization of pain with compression of the ulnar nerve.

Diagnostic examination

  • Treatment of the cubital tunnel syndrome should be started after 2 weeks from the moment of appearance of the first painful symptoms in the elbow if the pain and numbness in the arm do not go away. Symptoms of the cubital tunnel syndrome are not specific, and therefore, a complete medical examination is required for diagnosis. Methods for diagnosing the syndrome include:
  • examination of the patient;
  • complete medical history investigation;
  • X-ray (to exclude a fracture);
  • magnetic resonance imaging (performed if necessary);
  • electromyography.

Therapeutic measures

With the timely diagnosis of cubital tunnel syndrome, medication is prescribed. The patient is prescribed medications that reduce the intensity of pain in the elbow and relieve inflammation. For the fastest restoration of motor functions, it is necessary to undergo a course of physiotherapy, massages.

It is recommended to fixate the elbow joint with a special plastic splint or lay a pillow underneath so that the pain does not disturb during sleep. For the period of treatment of the cubital tunnel syndrome, it is necessary to limit the load on the elbow, and, if possible, to stop using the joint completely.

In the absence of positive dynamics from drug treatment and physiotherapy, the only method of treating the cubital tunnel syndrome is surgery. The purpose of the surgery is to relieve the injured nerve of the elbow joint from pressure. There are two surgical methods used in this case:

  • The method of transposition of the nerve ending is when a bypass cubital tunnel is surgically created and the ulnar nerve is positioned inside. A tunnel is formed from the shoulder muscle.
  • Removal of the condyle helps to the release of the compressed nerve. Condyle removal is a simple procedure; preparation is not required. After the operation, the patient can immediately go home, hospitalization and presence in the hospital are not required.

The operations are performed using local anesthesia, in case of poor tolerance to surgical procedures, general anesthesia is used. Surgery is performed in an outpatient setting. After surgical treatment, it is necessary to undergo a rehabilitation course. Physiotherapy is prescribed, aimed to assist the fastest restoration of the elbow joint.