Cubital tunnel syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome happens when the ulnar nerve becomes trapped (compressed). The ulnar nerve is very long and extends from the shoulder to the hand; halfway along it passes through a small bony channel on the elbow called the cubital tunnel. Sometimes this channel can become blocked, causing the nerve to become trapped. This is known as cubital tunnel syndrome.


Cubital tunnel syndrome can be caused by a number of conditions, including fractures and bending the elbow for long periods of time, or repetitive bending and straightening of the elbow, for example when playing sport.


Compression of the nerve can cause a ‘tingling’ sensation in the little finger and half of the ring finger.


After discussing of your symptoms, your specialist will test for muscle weakness and pain. You may also have a nerve conduction test to find out how well the nerve is working. The test also checks for other conditions such as a pinched nerve in the neck which can cause similar symptoms.


The majority of cases are minor and most people’s symptoms disappear after a short period of time.

Non-surgical treatment: this includes minimising activities where your arm will be bent for long periods of time.

Surgery: where non-surgical treatment doesn’t relieve your symptoms, you may be offered surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve. This may involve moving the nerve to relieve pressure – cubital tunnel release, and possibly ulnar nerve anterior transposition.

Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.


This type of surgery is carried out to relieve nerve entrapment (cubital tunnel syndrome)
This procedure is used to release the ulnar nerve when it’s compressed at the elbow. The cubital tunnel sheath is cut and split into two, making the tunnel larger and releasing pressure on the nerve.
Arthroscopy allows surgeons to use a type of keyhole surgery to diagnose and treat joint problems.
Joint replacement is less common in the wrist than in other joints such as the knee or hip but can help if there is osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis that has not improved with other treatments or surgery.

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