At Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine, serving Ramsey and other Northern New Jersey communities, we’ve helped hundreds of patients recover from a wide variety of upper extremity health problems, including a lesser-known condition called ulnar nerve compression (or entrapment).
Origin, Anatomy & Function of the Ulnar Nerve
Have you ever hit your “funny bone”? If so, then you already know how to locate your ulnar nerve—that is, at least one part of it.
Your ulnar nerve begins from the C8-T1 nerve roots in your lower neck. These nerve roots join together and then pass through your shoulder as part of the brachial plexus (a large highway of nerves).
The ulnar nerve then travels behind your elbow and branches off to provide motor and sensory function of the lower arm and part of the hand.
Symptoms of Ulnar Nerve Compression
Your ulnar nerve can become compressed anywhere along its path from the spine to the arm by virtually any misplaced or injured structure, including spinal disc, bone, ligament, tendon, or muscle (when entrapment occurs at the elbow, this is known specifically as cubital tunnel syndrome).
Symptoms of ulnar nerve compression include:
- Pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow
- Pain that worsens after prolonged bending of the elbow
- Pain, numbness, and tingling in the inside of the forearm, pinkie finger, and adjacent half of the ring finger
- Intermittent pain or numbness and tingling brought on by sustained bending of the elbow over a long period of time
If compression of the ulnar nerve becomes more chronic, additional symptoms may develop including weakening and muscle wasting in the hand, difficulty holding or grasping objects, and an inward bend to the fingers (a deformity known as the “ulnar claw”).
How Ulnar Nerve Compression Occurs—and How Our Ramsey Pain Doctors Can Help
Our approach to healing an ulnar nerve compression begins with identifying where the compression is occurring and what’s causing it. In addition to a thorough physical examination and patient history evaluation, we use diagnostic tools such as electromyography, nerve conduction tests, ultrasound, and even digital X-ray imaging to help us pinpoint both the source and cause of your nerve compression. This highly accurate information helps us guide our treatment and allows us to educate you about what’s causing your symptoms.
Once the location and cause of your ulnar nerve compression has been identified, we’ll utilize a variety of treatment options that are fully customized to meet your needs. Our ultimate goal is to relieve pressure on the nerve, initiate tissue healing, and prevent the compression from happening again in the future.
- If your nerve compression is caused by a tight muscle, we may use Botox injections to help relax the muscle and relieve pressure in that area
- Osteopathic manipulations can help realign the spinal bones if a disruption in normal alignment is impinging on the ulnar nerve roots
- Physical therapy offers everything from manual therapy (like soft tissue massage and nerve flossing) to therapeutic exercises that can improve the strength and endurance of affected musculature in the arm and trunk
These, and other services, have helped our patients tremendously–and we’re confident that they can help you, too!
Have you been diagnosed with ulnar nerve compression? Let our team at Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine guide your healing, starting today! Call (201) 962-9199 now to schedule an appointment with our Ramsey pain doctors, Dr. Ferrer and Dr. McElroy.