Ulnar neuropathy

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Ulnar neuropathy
Nerves of the left upper extremity.gif
Nerves of the left upper extremity. (Ulnar labeled at center)
SpecialtyNeurology Edit this on Wikidata
CausesNerve entrapment ,Tumor[1]
Diagnostic methodCBC, Urinalysis[1]
TreatmentNSAIDs , Surgery[1]

Ulnar neuropathy is a disorder involving the ulnar nerve. Ulnar neuropathy may be caused by entrapment of the ulnar nerve with resultant numbness and tingling.[2] Motor function can be assessed by testing for a positive Froment's sign, or making an OK sign (which the individual will be unable to do), little finger abduction can be tested as well.[medical citation needed]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

In terms of the signs/symptoms of ulnar neuropathy trauma and pressure to the arm and wrist, especially the elbow, the medial side of the wrist, and other sites close to the course of the ulnar nerve are of interest in this condition. Many people complain of sensory changes in the fourth and fifth digits. Rarely, an individual actually notices that the unusual sensations are mainly in the medial side of the ring finger (fourth digit). Sometimes the third digit is also involved, especially on the ulnar (medial) side. The sensory changes can be a feeling of numbness or a tingling, pain rarely occurs in the hand. Complaints of pain tend to be more common in the arm, up to and including the elbow area, which is probably the most common site of pain in an ulnar neuropathy.[3][1]


Among the causes of ulnar neuropathy are the following-


Much more commonly, ulnar neuropathy is caused by overuse of the triceps muscle and repetitive stress combined with poor ergonomics. Overused and hypertonic triceps muscle causes inflammation in the tendon and adhesions with the connective tissue surrounding that tendon and muscle. These in turn impinge on or trap the ulnar nerve. Ulnar neuropathy resulting from repetitive stress is amenable to massage and can usually be fully reversed without cortisone or surgery.[5] Center for Occupational and Environmental Neurology, Baltimore, MD has this to say: “Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) refers to many different diagnoses of the neck/shoulder, arm, and wrist/hand area usually associated with work-related ergonomic stressors. Other terms used for Repetitive Strain Injuries are overuse syndrome, musculoskeletal disorders, and cumulative trauma disorders. Some of the more common conditions under these headings include: Cubital Tunnel Syndrome-compression of the ulnar nerve in the cubital tunnel at the elbow.”[6]


In regards to the pathophysiology of ulnar neuropathy:the axon, and myelin can be affected. Within the axon, fascicles to individual muscles could be involved, with subsequent motor unit loss and amplitude decrease. Conduction block means impaired transmission via a part of the nerve. Conduction block can mean myelin damage to the involved area, slowing of conduction or significant spreading out of the temporal profile of the response with axonal integrity is a hallmark of demyelination.[1][7]


Nerve conduction study (Calculation of NCV)

Among the diagnostic procedures done to determine if the individual has ulnar neuropathy are (but may not be limited to the following):[1][8][9]


Treatment for ulnar neuropathy can entail: NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) medicines. there is also the option of a cortisone injection. Another possible option is splinting, to secure the elbow, a conservative procedure endorsed by some. In cases where surgery is needed, cubital tunnel release, where the ligament of the cubital tunnel is cut, thereby alleviating pressure on nerve can be performed.[8][11][12]Treatment for the common occurrence of ulnar neuropathy resulting from overuse, with no fractures or structural abnormalities, is treatment massage, ice, and anti-inflammatories. Specifically, deep tissue massage to the triceps, myofascial release for the upper arm connective tissue, and cross-fiber friction to the triceps tendon.[medical citation needed]


In terms of the prognosis of ulnar neuropathy early decompression of the nerve sees a return to normal ability (function), which should be immediate. Severe cubital tunnel syndrome tends to have a faster recovery process in individuals below the age of 70, as opposed to those above such an age. Finally, revisional surgery for cubital tunnel syndrome does not result well for those individuals over 50 years of age.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Ulnar Neuropathy Clinical Presentation: History, Physical Examination, Ulnar neuropathy at elbow". emedicine.medscape.com. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  2. ^ "Ulnar nerve dysfunction: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia". medlineplus.gov. Retrieved 2016-07-22.
  3. ^ a b "Ulnar Nerve Disorders Free Medical Information | Patient". Patient. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  4. ^ a b c d e Thatte, Mukund R.; Mansukhani, Khushnuma A. (1 January 2011). "Compressive neuropathy in the upper limb". Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery : Official Publication of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India. 44 (2): 283–297. doi:10.4103/0970-0358.85350. ISSN 0970-0358. PMC 3193641. PMID 22022039.
  5. ^ Chin, DH; Jones, NF (February 2002). "Repetitive motion hand disorders". Journal of the California Dental Association. 30 (2): 149–60. PMID 11883427.
  6. ^ Apprill, P; Schmitz, JM; Campbell, WB; Tilton, G; Ashton, J; Raheja, S; Buja, LM; Willerson, JT (August 1985). "Cyclic blood flow variations induced by platelet-activating factor in stenosed canine coronary arteries despite inhibition of thromboxane synthetase, serotonin receptors, and alpha-adrenergic receptors". Circulation. 72 (2): 397–405. doi:10.1161/01.cir.72.2.397. PMID 2988822.
  7. ^ Robertson, Chad; Saratsiotis, John (June 2005). "A Review of Compressive Ulnar Neuropathy at the Elbow". Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 28 (5): 345. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2005.04.005. PMID 15965409.
  8. ^ a b "Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at the Elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome)-OrthoInfo - AAOS". orthoinfo.aaos.org. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  9. ^ Benatar, Michael (2007-11-06). Neuromuscular Disease: Evidence and Analysis in Clinical Neurology. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 291. ISBN 9781597451062. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Nerve conduction velocity: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia". medlineplus.gov. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  11. ^ Caliandro, Pietro; La Torre, Giuseppe; Padua, Roberto; Giannini, Fabio; Padua, Luca (2016-11-15). Cochrane Neuromuscular Group (ed.). "Treatment for ulnar neuropathy at the elbow". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006839.pub4.
  12. ^ Frontera, Walter R.; Silver, Julie K.; Jr, Thomas D. Rizzo (2014-09-05). Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 135. ISBN 9780323222723. Retrieved 23 July 2016.

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