What Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

By katherine
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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A sudden impact to the inside of your elbow can cause symptoms of pain and tingling that travel all the way down your arm into your fingers. People often describe this as hitting your “funny bone.” However, it is not a bone that is responsible for unpleasant sensations but the ulnar nerve. Extending from the side of your neck, the ulnar nerve travels across your shoulder, down through your arm, and into your hand. Also known as ulnar neuropathy, cubital tunnel syndrome results from compression of your ulnar nerve at your elbow.

It can be easy to confuse cubital tunnel syndrome with carpal tunnel syndrome. The names are similar, and each involves pressure on one of the nerves that provide feeling to the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is different in that the compression occurs at the wrist and affects the median nerve. Therefore, although the symptoms may be similar, carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome each affect different fingers.

1. Prevalence

Most people have probably experienced temporary symptoms of ulnar nerve compression at some point in their lives. You may have experienced feelings of numbness and tingling in your hand after leaning your elbow on a hard surface for some time. Once you moved your elbow and relieved the pressure, the symptoms probably went away. Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve is under constant or repetitive pressure and the symptoms do not resolve on their own.

Cubital tunnel syndrome is considerably less prevalent than carpal tunnel syndrome. For every 100,000 people, there are approximate 24.7 cases of ulnar neuropathy diagnosed per year. Though carpal tunnel more often affects women, cubital tunnel syndrome is nearly twice as common in men. It may be difficult to gauge the true incidence of ulnar neuropathy, however, because the symptoms can mimic other conditions of the elbow.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

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