Ulnar neuropathy can occur when the ulnar nerve, which travels from the shoulder to the hand, becomes entrapped or compressed. It primarily affects the ring and little fingers.
The ulnar nerve is part of a network of nerves that originates in the spine and runs from the collarbone, along the inside of the arm, through the wrist, and into the little-finger side of the hand. It is the nerve responsible for numbness in your forearm and hand when you hit your “funny bone.”
Ulnar neuropathy may be caused by direct impact to the inside of the elbow; long-term pressure on the ulnar nerve; repetitive strain on the elbow and wrist joints; sleeping with a bent elbow and curled up arm; and pre-existing conditions, such as bone spurs, an elbow fracture or a cyst in the Guyon’s canal.
Common symptoms of ulnar neuropathy include:
- Tingling or numbness in the palm and ring and little fingers, particularly while the elbow is bent
- Pain or tenderness on the inside of the elbow
- Trouble sleeping due to loss of feeling in the ring and little fingers
- Loss of finger coordination
- Weakness of the hand
Although your condition may improve on its own, evaluation by a hand and upper extremity subspecialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group will ensure successful treatment and a full recovery.
In addition to rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications, your physician may recommend steroidal injections to reduce the inflammation and, in severe cases, surgical intervention to take pressure off the ulnar nerve.