How is Ulnar Nerve Entrapment (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome) Diagnosed?
Dr. Yau will perform a complete medical review and physical examination in order to accurately diagnose the condition. During the physical examination, he will tap on the ulnar nerve at the cubital tunnel to determine the severity of symptoms along with assessing for strength and sensory deficits. A series of x-rays and MRI may be ordered to aid in the diagnosis if necessary. Often, patients will be sent for a nerve conduction study to assess the severity of nerve injury.
How is Ulnar Nerve Entrapment (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome) Treated?
Dr. Yau begins cubital tunnel syndrome treatment with non-surgical measures, unless the patient has severe symptoms such as weakness and muscle atrophy. Standard treatment includes anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and physical therapy aimed at decreasing scar surrounding the nerve through nerve glides, along with restoring range of motion and strength to the elbow.
Surgical decompression will be recommended if conservative measures fail to alleviate symptoms or if a patient presents with severe symptoms such as muscle atrophy and weakness. Surgical decompression is typically performed through an open incision and the nerve sheath is incised with care taken to protect the nerve. Scar tissue around the nerve is removed. If the patient has elbow deformity or severe nerve disease, the ulnar nerve may be moved from its original location behind the elbow to a new location at the front of the elbow known as “ulnar nerve transposition.” For most cases of cubital tunnel syndrome, studies have shown that simple decompression is the recommended procedure.
For additional resources on ulnar nerve entrapment, or to determine the appropriate treatment plan for cubital tunnel syndrome, please contact Dr. Jervis Yau, orthopedic elbow specialist serving the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California communities.