Ulnar nerve compression occurs when the ulnar nerve, a main nerve in the arm, becomes irritated due to injury or pressure. Symptoms include a tingling in the ring and little fingers, pain on the inside of the elbow and difficulty moving the fingers or grasping objects.
The exact cause of ulnar nerve compression is unknown. Factors that influence the chance of developing symptoms are: prior injuries, including fractures of the elbow; bone spurs; swelling of the elbow joint or cysts. Certain medical conditions may also increase the risk of developing ulnar nerve compression including rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and diabetes.
Screening for ulnar nerve compression begins with a detailed examination of medical history and physical health. Numbness in the fingers, evidence of muscle atrophy and weakness in the hand and forearm are all signs that further testing is needed for a complete diagnosis.
Surgery may be recommended If non-surgical treatments are not improve your symptoms, or you have a severe case of nerve compression or muscular atrophy.
The newest technique for addressing Ulnar nerve compression at the elbow is Endoscopic Ulnar Nerve Release. The technique, which was pioneered in Germany, was introduced in Virginia by Dr. Desai in 2006 and has been a highly successful part of his practice. Pressure on the nerve at the elbow can be relieved through a one-inch incision. Recovery can be measured in days or a few weeks as compared to months for the significantly more invasive, open technique.