Ulnar Nerve Surgery

Ulnar nerve entrapment can give the symptoms of the ring and little finger “falling asleep,” weakness or tenderness in the hand, or tenderness of the elbow joint. In some cases, it may be more difficult to move the fingers or manipulate objects. Symptoms tend to occur most often when the elbow is bent, such as when driving or holding the phone. If the nerve has been compressed for a long time, muscle wasting in the hand can occur. Once this happens, the muscle wasting cannot be reversed; therefore, it is important to see a physician as soon as symptoms are noticed.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend a nerve conduction study. This is a test to determine how well the nerve is working. During the test, the nerve is stimulated, and the amount of time it takes for the response to be conducted is determined. Sometimes, a small needle is placed in the muscles that the ulnar nerve controls.

Treatment may include occupational therapy, use of daily non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or non-prescription pain medications, wearing splints, or surgery. If surgery is required, the surgeon will relieve compression from the nerve by first making an incision on the inside of the elbow. Next, either simple decompression (where the nerve is not manipulated) or subcutaneous transposition (where the nerve is released from compression and then moved to the front of the elbow) will be performed. The type of surgery will depend on each individual.


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