Straight To The Point Blog

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

October 12th, 2020
Ulnar nerve entrapment can occur when cyclists rest on their elbows for prolonged period of time, causing tingling in the funny bone.
photo by The Pug Father

Ulnar nerve entrapment causes numbness and tingling from the elbow to the ring and pinky fingers. It’s also known as Bicycler’s neuropathy or handlebar palsy, Guyon’s canal syndrome, Tardy ulnar palsy, or Cubital tunnel syndrome. The ulnar nerve is also known as the “funny bone,” and the tingling sensation is the same that’s felt when you hit your “funny bone.”

The pain from ulnar nerve entrapment is caused by a muscle or ligament pinching the ulnar nerve. This happens when the elbow is fully bent or when there is pressure on the nerve from leaning the elbow against a hard surface. It can also occur from pressure on the wrist, such as leaning on bike handlebars for a long period of time (“Bicycler’s neuropathy”), or from using hand tools for a long time as well. It can also be injured if the ulnar nerve is unstable and the elbow shifts a lot.

Symptoms of Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

In addition to tingling and numbness from the elbow to the fourth and fifth fingers, there may also be tenderness in the elbow, weakness in the hand, and cold sensitivity. The pain may be worse at night and when your elbow is bent.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Some non-surgical options to treat ulnar nerve entrapment include exercises to strengthen the hands and elbows. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help reduce pain and inflammation. The doctor may also suggest a splint on the elbow, to keep it from bending.

We can also use ultrasound to see the cause of the restriction, and then place an injection around the nerve to free up the tissue, unblocking the area causing the compression.

If surgery is the last option, the ultrasound evaluation can also help the surgeon determine what kind of surgery is required.

If you need help recovering from ulnar nerve entrapment, please call Point Performance in Bethesda, Maryland to make an appointment with Dr. Gruner.

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