Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a nerve-compression condition brought on by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve at the elbow. In many cases, the cause is unknown.

The ulnar nerve passes below the bump of bone on the inner portion of the elbow, where it is commonly called the “funny bone.” It is especially vulnerable to compression because it passes through a narrow space, with very little soft tissue to protect it.

Cubital tunnel syndrome symptoms usually include:

  • Pain, numbness and/or tingling in the ring and little fingers, usually when there is pressure on the nerve, such as when sitting with the elbow on an arm rest; repeatedly bending and straightening the elbow; or holding the elbow in a bent position for a period of time, such as when holding a phone or sleeping.
  • Weakness while pinching, in some cases.
  • Occasional clumsiness and/or a tendency to drop things.
  • In severe cases, sensation may be lost, and the muscles in the hand may lose bulk and strength.

A test called electromyography, or nerve conduction study, may be done to confirm cubital tunnel syndrome and determine its severity. This test also checks for other possible nerve problems, such as a pinched nerve in the neck, which can cause similar symptoms.

Are You a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Surgery?

If your symptoms are severe or do not improve, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive cubital tunnel release surgery.

Our surgeons perform endoscopic cubital tunnel release through a small incision in the elbow, using a miniaturized camera to view the ligament “roof” of the cubital tunnel. The ligament is cut and divided to increase the size of the tunnel and decrease pressure on the nerve. As the ligament begins to heal, new tissue grows across the division and allows more space for the ulnar nerve to slide through.

Patients recover and return to work and activities faster than with other techniques. You may need to wear a splint, limit lifting and elbow movements for a few weeks, and undergo some physical therapy. Our team will provide follow-up care and support every step of the way.