The ulnar nerve, or what some refer to as the "funny bone," is one of three major nerves in the arm, running from the neck to the hand. Sometimes, the ulnar nerve can become compressed or irritated causing numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers – especially in the ring finger and pinky.
Ulnar nerve compression usually occurs around the elbow joint, a condition called cubital tunnel syndrome. Much less often, compression can occur at the wrist, a condition sometimes known as Guyon canal syndrome.
Ulnar nerve entrapment symptoms also include a weak grip, difficulty controlling movement, and pain or tenderness. If left untreated this condition could escalate to muscle weakness and permanent injury to the arm or hand.
Ulnar nerve entrapment can be caused by:
Depending on the severity, a physician might recommend conservative, nonsurgical treatments first. These include:
If nonsurgical methods do not improve the condition, or if the entrapment is too severe, surgery may be required. The most common surgical procedures to correct ulnar nerve entrapment are:
Your surgeon will be able to determine the best method to correct this condition and the appropriate aftercare and recovery. Physical therapy is typically not required or is only needed in a limited capacity after surgery. Read the HSS patient stories below or find the best surgeon at HSS for your particular condition and insurance.
Get information on exercises and techniques to help prevent injuries or tears in the rotator cuff.