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  • What Causes Cubital Tunnel to Flare Up?

    What Causes Cubital Tunnel to Flare Up?

    Your cubital tunnel can flare up when the ulnar nerve becomes irritated, compressed, or stretched. You may feel numbness in your hand, fingers, or wrist. The ulnar nerve in your arm is near the ulna bone and runs down from the neck to the fingers. It provides sensation to your little fingers, ring finger, and forearm.


    The ulnar nerve covers your entire arm, increasing your risk of irritation on various spots. Your elbow is where you have the cubital tunnel where the ulnar nerve goes through.

    The cubital tunnel is a passageway for bone, ligament, and muscle located inside your elbow. The narrow passage of the cubital tunnel makes it at high risk of injury or compression from trauma or constant activities.



    Symptoms Your Cubital Tunnel Is Flaring



    Most people refer to the ulnar nerve as the funny bone nerve. They do so because it passes through the elbow with little subcutaneous tissue and fat, causing it to be close to the skin surface. The result is a nerve that is so sensitive that if you hit your inner elbow, you will feel like being electrocuted.


    Below are some of the symptoms that show your cubital tunnel has a problem:


    • Weakness, pain, and numbness in your fingers, forearm, and arm

    • Reduced or weakened grip

    • Waking up during the night due to numbness or pain in your fingers and hands, especially your ring or little fingers

    • Difficulty straightening and bending your fingers

    • Struggling to manipulate things using your fingers or hands

    • Losing muscle at the base of your first finger or thumb


    Your symptoms can worsen if your elbow stays compressed or bent for a long time.



    What Causes the Cubital Tunnel to Flare Up?



    There is no direct cause for this problem. Instead, various factors contribute to the discomfort. Below are some of the potential causes:



    • Pressure

    • Anatomy

    • Stretching






    Your doctor will conduct a physical examination of your hand and arm to diagnose your problem. You will point to the area of your pain and describe the numbness or pain. Your specialist will ask how often or at what intervals you experience the discomfort and when it gets worse. Your doctor may order X-rays of your elbow to understand the underlying cause of your discomfort. They may also use nerve conduction studies for diagnosis. 



    When to Call Your Doctor



    It is essential to seek help from your healthcare provider if you experience trouble and pain doing your daily activities. You should also seek help if the pain does not respond to any of your home treatments. You should see your doctor if you have persistent tingling, numbness, and weakness in your hand or arm.






    Always keep your elbow straight. Your doctor may prescribe a padded elbow brace or a splint that you can wear while you sleep. Doing so will help prevent bending the elbow to avoid discomfort. You may also get inflammatory medication if you have any swelling.


    Patients who experience severe symptoms lasting more than six weeks and do not find relief from other forms of treatment may need surgery. Your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure if you have weakness and muscle loss in your hand due to the cubital tunnel flaring up.


    For more about the cubital tunnel, visit Clark Plastic & Hand Surgery at our office in McKinney, Texas. You can also call 469-675-3659 to book an appointment today.