Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve becomes entrapped. This entrapment generally occurs at the elbow, but in rarer cases, it might occur at the shoulder. Most minor cases can be managed with changes in positioning, but severe cases can warrant surgery.
Be Mindful Of Your Elbow Position
The way you position your elbow can trigger numbness. Generally, you might find yourself resting on your elbow, either while sitting up at the computer or when lying down. Consistently reminding yourself to avoid this behavior is the easiest way of preventing numbness. When you are working at a computer, keeping the keyboard closer to the edge of the desk will prevent you from having enough space to lean on your elbows. If you are lying down, lying on your back or lying on your side with your arm stretched out can help. Sleeping is often the hardest time to maintain your elbow in the right position. You might place a pillow over your arm or find other reminders to keep your arm neutral throughout the night.
Address Underlying Concerns
People with different types of arthritis might find they are more prone to cubital tunnel syndrome since inflammation can place pressure on the nerve. Engaging in a treatment plan for your specific type of arthritis can help reduce inflammation in affected joints. If your elbow is especially problematic, you might want to speak with your doctor about steroid shots. The occasional injection in the elbow can reduce or eliminate pain and inflammation, thereby reducing agitation of the ulnar nerve. If you do not have daily problems with your elbow, the occasional use of anti-inflammatory pain medications should be helpful. Some people might also find icing their elbow also helps with inflammation.
Surgery is usually reserved for people with severe cases of cubital tunnel syndrome, especially those who develop consistent numbness and tingling in their fingers, and show signs of muscle atrophy. During surgery, an orthopedic surgeon releases the cubital tunnel so the nerve no longer becomes entrapped in that area. For some people, the ulnar nerve may need to be moved and any bony protrusions eliminated to prevent the nerve from becoming irritated or stuck. When the nerve is moved, is moved more toward the inner part of the elbow, so it can no longer become entrapped behind the bone during flexion and extension of the arm.
Fortunately, most instances of cubital tunnel syndrome can be managed by staying vigilant about the position of your arm. In some cases, surgery can be necessary to prevent irreversible damage to the ulnar nerve. Contact a clinic, like Orthopaedic Associates Of Rochester, for more help.