Cubital Tunnel Treatment
Like carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when you have a pinched nerve in your arm. When the ulnar nerve is compressed, you may experience tingling and pain in your elbow and hand. Weakness and lack of coordination may accompany this discomfort. Cubital tunnel treatment at our Austin, TX, practice can improve your mobility and hand strength. Because Gregg A. Vagner, M.D. works conservatively, he will typically begin by bracing your elbow. However, if this method does not relieve your discomfort, he may recommend surgery. Depending on your elbow anatomy, he may relocate the ulnar nerve, make an incision in the cubital tunnel, or remove a small portion of bone tissue to relieve pressure on the nerve. With his care and subsequent physical therapy, you can enjoy pronounced pain relief and fully restored hand movement.
What Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
Your ulnar nerve is found just underneath a bump of bone on the inside of your elbow (medial epicondyle). Sometimes called the “funny bone,” it is located close to the skin and, therefore, is highly sensitive. It is also encapsulated by a sheath of protective tissues, known as the cubital tunnel. When this nerve is pinched, cubital tunnel syndrome can develop.
During a consultation, Dr. Vagner can use advanced diagnostics to determine the best treatment approach for your needs.
There are a number of things that can cause nerve compression, although in some cases, the reason for this condition is unknown:
- Repetitive motions can damage the ligaments in your elbow.
- Keeping your elbow bent for a long time or frequently leaning on your elbow will stretch your ulnar nerve around the bony ridge. In response, you may experience significant inflammation.
- An irregularly placed nerve may rub over the bone when you bend your elbow.
- The medial epicondyle itself may press down on the nerve.
- Fluid can build up in your elbow and place pressure on the ulnar nerve.
The Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
If you are suffering from cubital tunnel syndrome, you may experience:
- Discomfort or numbness in your elbow
- Tingling and weakness in your fingers, particularly your little finger and ring finger
- Difficulty grasping and pinching with your thumb and little finger
- Overall diminished hand strength
- Inability to move your hand normally, resulting in a claw-like appearance
Cubital Tunnel Treatment with Dr. Vagner
Dr. Vagner can often diagnose cubital tunnel syndrome through a simple physical exam. Often, he will also conduct an electromyography test during which he will send electrical signals along the ulnar nerve. If it takes a long time for these signals to reach your fingers, it will usually indicate cubital tunnel syndrome. Once he understands the severity, cause, and location of nerve compression, he can recommend appropriate treatment.
Dr. Vagner prefers to use non-invasive methods whenever possible. Accordingly, he will often begin by providing an elbow brace. Designed for nighttime use, this device can keep you from sleeping with your arm bent. Alternatively, a daytime splint can support your arm as you perform routine tasks. Dr. Vagner may also collaborate with a physical therapist. Together, they can teach you new ways of moving your arm that will not irritate the ulnar nerve. You should also avoid leaning on your elbow for long periods of time.
If these conservative methods do not achieve relief, Dr. Vagner will typically perform surgery. There are several different procedures that he may use. For example, he may move the nerve in front of the medial epicondyle. He may also place it under a layer of fat cells or muscle tissue to give it more protection. Alternatively, he may trim the bony ridge so that it no longer presses down on your nerve. Finally, he may release the cubital tunnel by making a small incision in the tissues. When the protective sheath heals, it will usually expand, making more room for the nerve. Dr. Vagner will work carefully to minimize scarring and recovery time.
Contact Our Practice
If you are suffering from symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome, contact Dr. Vagner’s office today. During a consultation, he can use advanced diagnostics to determine the best treatment approach for your needs.