Monday, May 07, 2007

Cubital Tunnel

Everyone has heard about carpal tunnel these days, but few have heard about cubital tunnel! Cubital tunnel, like carpal tunnel syndrome, is a compressive neuropathy, meaning nerve pain from a stretched or compressed nerve.

Cubital tunnel is caused by pressure on the ulnar nerve, a primary nerve, supplying the hand. CT can cause numbness and tingling of the pinkie and ring fingers. Pain on the side of the arm closest to the chest can also occur in cubital tunnel.

The ulnar nerve reaches from the spinal cord to the hand and forearm and hand, including the skin on the on the outer portion of the hand. (The pinkie side). The ulnar nerve passes over a bony portion of the elbow (medial epicondyle) and when stretched, can cause tingling, even an electrical shock feeling, in the ring finger and pinkie!

How is cubital tunnel treated? The first step is to try and avoid bending the elbow for long periods of time. Don't lean on your elbows! Constant phone use can aggravate CT as the arm is bent while holding a phone-land line or cell! Surgery is the treatment of last resort... taking ibuprofen can help, and some claim that vitamin B6 (never more than 100mg per day) helps alleviate pain and tingling.

Another home remedy is to roll the elbow in a towel, like a pig in a blanket. Wrap the towel with surgical tape or pin with safety pins. This will keep the elbow extended, not bent. Since many people are afflicted by CT due to bending their elbows while sleeping, this will prevent them from folding their arms, and alleviating pressure on the ulnar nerve.

For more in-depth information about cubital tunnel, visit these links:

Hand University

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