The ulnar nerve travels down the back and inside of the arm toward the hand. The nerve transmits electrical messages from the brain to the arm and hand. It’s also responsible for the sensations you feel in your ring and pinky fingers and a part of the palm and underside of your forearm.
When this nerve is entrapped, it causes numbness, tingling, and pain that spreads down the forearm and into your ring and pinky fingers. It can also cause weakness and loss of muscle mass.
Many treatments are available to help with ulnar nerve pain, including chiropractic care. This offers an all-natural option for improving the pain and numbness and allowing your body to heal.
In many cases, prolonged stretching of the ulnar nerve from keeping the elbow bent causes entrapment. This position causes nerve pressure, especially when leaning against a solid surface like a desktop. This is why people with jobs that require a lot of computer use or typing have a higher risk of developing ulnar nerve entrapment.
It’s also possible for entrapment to occur at the wrist from leaning on handlebars or pressing on hand tools.
Occasionally, entrapment can occur because someone’s ulnar nerve shifts out of place and across the bump of the bone in the elbow. This is called a subluxing nerve.
Cubital tunnel syndrome is a general term for any inflammation, swelling, or irritation of the ulnar nerve. It includes entrapment. In addition to leaning and bending the elbow, cubital tunnel syndrome can also be caused by bone spurs, arthritis, or previous dislocations or fractures of the elbow. Sometimes there is no identifiable cause or multiple causes of cubital tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include:
One of the earliest symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome is tenderness or mild pain. Over time, the pain can worsen. It also tends to spike when the arm is in positions that aggravate the nerve.
As cubital tunnel syndrome progresses without treatment, people lose feeling their ring and pinky fingers. The numbness usually starts with a mild tingling similar to what you’d feel if your arm or hand were “falling asleep.”
Cubital tunnel syndrome eventually leads to the weakening of grip strength.
Over time, especially when someone doesn’t seek treatment, cubital tunnel syndrome causes muscle atrophy in the forearm and hand.
Several activities can aggravate the ulnar nerve. These include:
Cubital tunnel syndrome is often treatable without surgery. However, there are rare occasions when these nonsurgical treatments don’t work, and surgery might be required. Usually, surgery isn’t recommended until the problem begins to cause muscle weakness.
There are different surgical options for treating ulnar nerve problems, including:
All three of these surgeries carry a variety of risks and require several weeks of recovery and physical therapy to regain motion and strength. Surgery also doesn’t guarantee you’ll be free of cubital tunnel syndrome forever. This is especially true if you do nothing to reduce your risk. This is partly why it’s better to avoid surgery and treat ulnar nerve entrapment with less risky options.
Several non-surgical treatment options exist for easing the discomfort of ulnar nerve entrapment. These include:
Chiropractic care is one of the most beneficial non-surgical treatment options for cubital tunnel syndrome. It’s safe and all-natural and can help with various nerve health issues.
Chiropractors use massage to manipulate and mobilize soft tissue, reversing the entrapment of the nerve and promoting your body’s natural tendency to heal.
Additionally, a chiropractor can help you develop a stretching and exercise routine to use at home to avoid nerve problems in the future. In most cases, ulnar nerve entrapment is caused by compression, which is often related to the workplace. Chiropractors can help people working desk jobs find more ergonomic ways to work and prevent problems with their ulnar nerve and their entire body.
Chiropractors also go beyond treating the immediate symptoms of the problem. They aim to help you live your healthiest life by targeting the root of health problems.
Arm braces are also highly effective for treating ulnar nerve pain and numbness. Braces help you with coordination and prevent muscle wasting and weakness in the hand. Using a brace to keep your elbow or wrist straight reduces pressure on the nerve. Most people wear their braces during work and at night.
Both chiropractic care and wearing a brace can help you avoid surgery and the need for over-the-counter pain medications. These all-natural remedies help you manage the existing pain and discomfort, prevent worsening or aggravation of the problem, and over time, allow your body to heal and repair itself.
In addition to the treatments chiropractors provide in-office for cubital tunnel syndrome, they also teach patients at-home exercises they can perform to help manage their discomfort. They’ll also recommend changes you can make daily, including how to position your body when working.
Sometimes, chiropractors also suggest physiotherapy, which includes ultrasound and electric stimulation. These treatment options reduce inflammation and relieve pressure on the ulnar nerve.
Cubital tunnel syndrome and ulnar nerve entrapment isn’t a medical emergency but can significantly interfere with your quality of life. It can also make it very difficult to do your job. Fortunately, chiropractic adjustment and other treatments offer a non-invasive treatment option for anyone suffering from this condition. Not only will it help them better manage their pain and be able to perform work-related tasks, but chiropractic treatment also prevents symptoms from worsening and can help patients avoid surgery.
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