Eliminate Tingling and Numbness from Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve, which runs along your entire arm, is compressed or irritated. Dr. Gregg A. Vagner can address the resulting tingling, numbness, and potential immobility through both nonsurgical and surgical care at his Austin, TX, practice. 

What is Ulnar Nerve Entrapment?

Your ulnar nerve is very long, running from your neck all the way down to your little finger. Consequently, it is vulnerable to compression in a multitude of locations, from collar bone to wrist. It is especially susceptible in the elbow joint, where it runs beneath a bony outcropping called the medial epicondyle. When your nerve is compressed in this location, it is referred to as cubital tunnel syndrome.

Illustration demonstrating how the ulnar nerve fits underneath the medial epicondyle of the humerus.
The ulnar nerve is most often compressed in the small canal known as the cubital tunnel, which runs beneath a bony protrusion of the upper arm bone. 

Causes and Symptoms of Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

While the exact cause of ulnar nerve entrapment is not always unclear, overuse or excessive pressure on the elbow can increase the risk of cubital tunnel syndrome, in particular. The exact symptoms vary depending on the location of the compression: the further down the arm the compression occurs, the more mixed the symptoms become. Some of the most common signs include:  

  • Numbness and tingling in your ring and little fingers
  • Weakness or inability to move your ring and little fingers
  • Inability to grasp objects
  • Muscle atrophy or deterioration in your hand

The severity and duration of these symptoms will determine whether a nonsurgical or surgical approach is more appropriate. 

Treatment Options for Your Compressed Ulnar Nerve

In many cases, non-surgical care can provide dramatic relief. Immobilization with a brace, in particular, is often beneficial. Dr. Vagner can provide a brace that will keep you from bending your elbow or wrist, for both nighttime and daytime use. We can also refer you to a physical therapist who will teach you methods of moving your arm that reduces the pressure on your ulnar nerve.

Non-surgical care can provide dramatic relief. 

However, if your ulnar nerve entrapment is severe or if you do not respond to non-invasive therapies, Dr. Vagner will typically recommend surgical options. For cubital tunnel syndrome, some possible treatments include:

  • Ulnar nerve anterior transposition: If your nerve is trapped at the elbow, the doctor can relocate it from behind the medial epicondyle to a position in front of this bone.
  • Medial epicondylectomy: Alternatively, Dr. Vagner can remove a portion of the bone altogether to relieve pressure on your nerve.
  • Cubital tunnel release: Your surgeon can also remove a section of the protective sheath of tissue over your ulnar nerve. As the tissue heals, it will grow back together but leave more room for the nerve to move.

After surgery, you will still need to undergo a treatment regimen of immobilization and physical therapy. This process will minimize discomfort during recovery and lay the foundations for regaining your full range of motion.

Eliminate Tingling and Immobility

If you are struggling with any of the symptoms of ulnar nerve compression, our safe and personalized care can provide lasting relief. Contact our office online at any time or call (512) 454-4561 to ask questions or to book a consultation.

Gregg A. Vagner, M.D.

Gregg A. Vagner, M.D.

Dr. Gregg A. Vagner is a double board-certified surgeon specializing in hand, wrist, and elbow injuries. With three locations in greater Austin, TX, Dr. Vagner provides conservative care for:

To request an appointment with Dr. Vagner, please contact us online or call (512) 454-4561.

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