Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a condition characterized by pressure or stretching of the ulnar nerve, also known as the “funny bone” nerve, which runs in a groove on the inner side of the elbow. This syndrome is a common type of nerve compression injury.

Causes and Risk Factors

The ulnar nerve can be compressed in several ways: leaning on the elbow for long periods, bending the elbow for prolonged times (like during sleep), or through direct trauma to the inside of the elbow. Certain activities or occupations that require repetitive elbow bending or pressure on the elbow increase the risk. Anatomical abnormalities or previous elbow injuries can also contribute.


Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the ring and little fingers, especially when the elbow is bent.
  • Weakness in the hand and difficulty with finger coordination (for tasks like typing or playing an instrument).
  • Pain in the elbow or forearm.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination and nerve conduction studies to confirm nerve compression.

Treatment usually begins conservatively, including:

  • Avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms.
  • Elbow pads or braces to limit elbow movement during sleep.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief.
  • Nerve gliding exercises.

If these treatments are ineffective, or if muscle weakness or nerve damage is present, surgery may be necessary. Surgical options aim to relieve pressure on the nerve, such as by releasing the nerve or moving it to a less confined space.

Recovery and Prevention

Recovery varies depending on treatment severity and individual factors. Post-surgery, physical therapy might be recommended to regain strength and flexibility. Preventative measures include minimizing prolonged elbow bending and pressure on the elbow.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, though potentially debilitating, often responds well to conservative treatment. If surgery is required, most patients regain normal nerve function and relief from symptoms.