Cubital Tunnel Syndrome | Causes & Physiotherapy Treatment

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the nerve known as the ulnar nerve, that passes near the elbow is compressed or restricted due to reasons such as stress, and muscle tear and results in the numbness of the hand, forearms, and fingers. It can result in irritation, loss of sensation, and muscle weakness if not treated.

Cubital tunnel syndrome can be managed with medical intervention and physiotherapy. Read on to learn more about its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

What Causes Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

The syndrome often occurs when the nerve is compressed or there is pressure on it that prevents it from functioning normally. This can occur due to various reasons.

The sudden movement of the elbow can cause stress on the nerve and result in compression of it. Long hours of typing or engaging the wrist and fingers can result in fatigue of the ulnar nerve as well. Physical pressure such as tight clothing, uncomfortable body posture, and pressure from the external environment can also cause the problem.

Other causes include factors such as arthritis, muscle damage, and physical injury.

What are the Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Pain in the elbow region and general numbness in the hands are some of the most common symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. Other cubital tunnel syndrome symptoms include muscle weakness in the arms, hand pain, pain in the elbow region when it is bent or extended, and loss of sensation in the fingers, arms, and elbow region.

Diagnosis of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Blood tests may be suggested to check for medical conditions such as diabetes or thyroid. The doctors may conduct a physical examination and through visual examination such as flexion and rotation of the elbows and arms, they may suggest more tests.

X-rays and Magnetic resonance imaging can help understand if there is any damage to the nerve or soft tissue damage. It can also ascertain if there is any injury to the bones in the region.

A Nerve conduction test can be performed to check if there is any compression in the nerve while conducting signals in the nerve.

An Electromyogram will show the condition of the nerve and the muscle and help the doctor ascertain the condition and the possible course of action for treatment.

When to See a Doctor for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

In most cases, rest and ice can help alleviate the pressure and improve the condition. It is advisable to visit a doctor when there is persistent pain in the elbow and the hand region for more than a few days.

If the pain increases as time progresses, it is also advisable to visit a doctor. Increased numbness, seething pain, lack of muscle strength, and inability to perform tasks that require you to engage your hands are also reasons why one should visit a doctor at the earliest.

Treatment for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relief ointments help reduce the swelling or any kind of inflammation in the joints and muscles. This can reduce the pressure on the nerve and improve function at the earliest. This is an effective form of cubital tunnel syndrome treatment.

Other forms of treatment are to ensure that there is enough rest and ice packs, to aid in reduction in swelling and improve blood circulation.

In cases where these do not work and the pain is unbearable, surgery may be performed where the pressure is released in the nerve by removing a part of the bone near the nerve or moving the nerve to release pressure. This is a simple procedure and may be required only when medication and physiotherapy are ineffective.

Physiotherapy for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Physiotherapy is one of the most common treatment plans that involve exercises for Cubital Tunnel syndrome, as it helps reduce pain and increases blood flow, and aids in releasing pressure in the nerve. It is also an important care factor post-surgery to help recover sensation and function in the arms.

Immobilization can help reduce the stress on the nerves and elbow joints and aid the recovery process. Ice and heat therapy can help reduce inflammation, increase movement and reduce pain and improve blood circulation in the region.

Massage therapy where one applies gentle and even pressure on the nerves and muscles can help reduce the pressure and increase mobility in the arms.

Flexion and extension exercises can help reduce pressure, improve mobility and reduce pain in the arms. These Cubital tunnel syndrome exercises need to be done slowly and based on the suggestion of the medical care professional.

How to Prevent Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome occurs when there is pressure on the ulnar nerve. It is important to ensure that this does not happen and the nerve is free from any discomfort. One can engage in muscle-strengthening activities that reduce the stress on the nerve. It is advisable to not engage in sudden movements of the hands that add pressure to the bones and nerves.

It is also important to take breaks between activities that require you to engage your fingers and wrists for long hours. Physiotherapy such as extension and flexion of the arms can help reduce the frequency of it.

Nutrient intake of food and water can help improve muscle and nerve health, which prevents such conditions.

Key Points

  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome occurs when there is pressure or compression on the ulnar nerve in the arm that runs near the elbow
  • Causes pain, discomfort, stiffness, lack of movement and muscle strength in the arms
  • Can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and physiotherapy
  • Important to reduce monotonous stress on the arms and engage in physical activities.