When your "funny bone'' hurts, you may have cubital tunnel syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome is not funny

It’s often called the “funny bone.’’

But you’re usually not laughing when that area near the elbow is struck. It hurts too much.

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition that involves pressure or stretching of the ulnar (funny bone) nerve, which can cause numbness or tingling in the ring and small fingers, pain in the forearm and weakness in the hand.

At Signature Medical Group, our orthopedic specialists are adept at treating cubital tunnel syndrome. We also treat several other conditions, dealing with the hands, wrist, arm and shoulder. You can often see our doctors the same day you make an appointment and we offer convenient hours at night and on weekends.

There are a few causes for cubital tunnel syndrome:

Pressure: The nerve has little padding over it. Direct pressure (like leaning the arm on an arm rest) can press the nerve, causing the arm and hand — especially the ring and small fingers — to “fall asleep.”

Stretching: Keeping the elbow bent for a long time can stretch the nerve behind the elbow. This can happen during sleep.

Anatomy: Sometimes, the ulnar nerve does not stay in its place and snaps back and forth over a bony bump as the elbow is moved. Repeated snapping can irritate the nerve.

Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause pain, loss of sensation, tingling and weakness. “Pins and needles” usually are felt in the ring and small fingers. These symptoms are often felt when the elbow is bent for a long period of time, such as while holding a phone or while sleeping.

Your Signature Medical Group doctor can learn much by asking you about your symptoms and examining you.

The first treatment option is to avoid actions that cause symptoms. Wrapping a pillow or towel loosely around the elbow or wearing a splint at night to keep the elbow from bending can help. Avoiding leaning on the “funny bone” can also help. A hand therapist may be able to find ways to avoid pressure on the nerve.

At Signature Medical Group, our orthopedic specialists are determined to curtail your pain and find the cause of your discomfort. Make an appointment today to see one of our doctors.