Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

  • A set of symptoms that occur if the ulnar nerve in your elbow gets pinched
  • May happen if you bend or lean on your elbows often

What are the Causes?

  • Holding a phone to the ear for a long time
  • Leaning on elbows for a long time
  • Sleeping with arms tightly bent
  • A sudden elbow injury
  • Although less frequent, a past elbow fracture

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms can be minor at first, but may worsen over time

  • Numbness or tingling in ring and little fingers
  • Loss of finger or hand strength
  • Inability to straighten fingers
  • Sharp, sudden pain when elbow is touched

Making A Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask you about your work, hobbies, or sleep positions in an effort to learn what’s causing your symptoms. Tests may be ordered to rule out other problems and confirm a diagnosis. Tests can include:

  • Nerve Conduction – to measure the speed of nerve signal running through your ulnar nerve
  • Electromyogram (RMG) – to reveal problems with the muscles in your arm
  • X-Rays – to rule out fractures, arthritis or other problems that may cause your symptoms

How is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Treated?


  • Active rest or doing most tasks while finding ways to rest your elbow
  • Take medication to reduce swelling
  • Switch to a headset style phone
  • Use a pad under your elbow
  • Sleep with your arm straight
  • Wear a special elbow splint at night


If resting your elbow doesn’t work, your doctor may suggest surgery to shift the ulnar nerve from the back to the front of the cubital tunnel. Surgery may also remove part of the bone which can release the nerve from the tunnel.

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