Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)?
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (ulnar neuropathy) is a condition that is caused by compression to the ulnar nerve often by connective tissue or bone. The ulnar nerve, one of the three main nerves in the arm, passes just under the skin’s surface close to the elbow or “funny bone”.
Any intense physical activity which adds pressure to this nerve can cause CTS as can an abnormal bone growth in the elbow region.
What are the Symptoms of CTS?
In most cases, the pain develops slowly and gradually over weeks and months in the elbow area. It is less common for the symptoms to occur suddenly.
An aching pain or numbness may be felt in the inner elbow but most of the symptoms will be in the hand. The ring and little fingers may tingle too.
Some more severe symptoms may include:
• Difficulty coordinating fingers (e.g. if typing)
• Reduced ability to pinch the little finger and thumb together
• Wasting of hand muscles
• Reduction in gripping ability
• Finger numbness may wake some whilst sleeping
Who is Prone to CTS?
Anyone who participates in activities that require continuous periods of elbow flexion e.g from holding the telephone, especially when leaning against a hard surface, are more susceptible to this condition.
Baseball pitchers who repeatedly perform a twisting motion when throwing the ball have an increased risk of contracting CTS as this can damage the elbow ligaments over time.
Obesity coupled with gripping something in a constant position whilst doing a repetitive action are considered major risk factors too.
Someone who sleeps with their arm bent under their pillow my be susceptible to CTS.
For some, when the elbow is bent, the nerve shifts outwards from behind the medial epicondyle. If this happens repeatedly over time, it may cause irritation to the nerve.
A direct blow to the ulnar nerve could cause CTS.
TRIGGER POINT SELF TREATMENT TECHNIQUE:
This technique involves locating the heart of the trigger/tender point. When this is compressed it may well trigger a specific referred pain map (preferably reproducing your symptoms). This technique involves applying direct, gentle and sustained pressure to the point:
1. Identify the tender/trigger point you wish to work on (see illustration above).
2. Place the host muscle in a comfortable position, where it is relaxed and can undergo full stretch.
3. Apply gentle, gradually increasing pressure to the tender point until you feel resistance. This should be experienced as discomfort and not as pain.
4. Apply sustained pressure until you feel the tender point yield and soften. This can take from a few seconds to several minutes.
5. Steps 3-4 can be repeated, gradually increasing the pressure on the tender/trigger point until it has fully yielded.
6. To achieve a better result, you can try to change the direction of pressure during these repetitions.
TRIGGER POINT SELF HELP - ADVICE
There are many reasons why you might have trigger points, so it is important to consider your trigger point pain in the context of the rest of your body. It must be stressed that the techniques offered on this page are not a substitute for therapy from a qualified practitioner; although aches and pains from trigger points are common, there can sometimes be an underlying pathology. It is advisable to always seek a proper diagnosis from a qualified medical practitioner or experienced manual therapist.
Stretching is an important part of the rehabilitation process and should begin as soon as pain allows and be continued throughout the rehabilitation program and beyond - Good maintenance prevents re-injury.
- Move in the direction of the red arrows
- Place your hands on your hips
- Feet shoulder width apart
- Lean over to your left (with your trunk) and slide your right hand up on the trunk a little
- Lean over to your right (with your trunk) and slide your left hand up on the trunk a little
- Repeat this left/right trunk motion till your hands go as high as they can
- Slide the hands down the side to the starting position
- As you do the trunk motions take some nice deep breaths
20 times per side daily.