Ulnar nerve decompression

The ulnar nerve as it travels through the lower part of the arm, the elbow and into the top part of the forearm runs through several areas in which it can be compressed or stretched. This compression may occur without an apparent cause, but can also be due to prominent areas of bone at the elbow from arthritis, or from injury or a ganglion from the joint. If the nerve is compressed it can stop working properly which causes symptoms of pins and needles and numbness in the little finger, and the ring finger side of the hand, with pain often on the inner aspect of the elbow, which can travel towards your hand. Some people will feel that their hand is less strong or less dexterous.

Milder cases of cubital tunnel syndrome may cause relatively little symptoms or only occur occasionally during prolonged activities. However, treatment is useful for more significant symptoms, and either takes the form of wearing a splint at night, undertaking exercises to assist the ulnar nerve to glide better at the elbow, or surgical decompression.

The nerve can be easily surgically decompressed by releasing the overlying structures causing compression. This can be undertaken via a medium length wound on the inside of your elbow under direct vision but at times the nerve is best moved from its original position into a position slightly in front of your medial epicondyle and this version of the operation is called anterior transposition.

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