Ulnar Entrapment: Surgery Isn’t The Only Answer

Most people are familiar with the condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome, which is so common in grocery store clerks, mechanical assemblers and other workers who continually perform repetitive motions. Fewer are familiar with the less common but similar condition known as cubital tunnel syndrome. However, instead of affecting the wrist, cubital tunnel syndrome affects the nerves associated with your funny bone in the elbow, but the condition is far from funny. There are several options for treating cubital tunnel syndrome, and sometimes it will require surgery for permanent relief. Here are some alternative solutions to try before you opt for the knife.

What Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

To understand cubital tunnel syndrome, also called ulnar nerve entrapment, you need to know a little about the anatomy of the arm. The ulnar nerve runs from the neck to the hand. At the elbow the nerve crosses through a tunnel formed by the humerus bone or upper arm, the muscles that bend the wrist and a ligament that holds the nerve close to the elbow joint. The nerve has little protection as it travels through this tunnel, so it is subject to trauma through bumping (as when you hit your funny bone) and repeatedly bending your elbow. Over time, the irritation of the ulnar nerve can cause tingling, pain and numbness of the forearm and hand and can affect the ability to grasp objects.

How Is It Treated?

Conservative treatment includes wearing an orthopedic brace to protect the elbow and keep it from bending, ultrasound for inflammation, and oral or injected steroids. If these treatments fail to relieve the condition, surgery to "untrap" the nerve may be required.

What About Alternative Treatments?

Before resorting to surgical intervention, you might want to try alternative therapies such as yoga, chiropractic or acupuncture. These should be done along with wearing a brace.

Yoga: Cubital tunnel syndrome causes pain and tingling from the neck to the fingers. That's why it's so important that yoga exercises address all these areas. Arm and wrist stretches, exercises that strengthen the shoulder, and those poses that open the chest are effective in relieving the discomfort, stretching the muscles so that the ulnar nerve is able to better glide through the tunnel, and promoting oxygenation of the injured area to help it heal faster. Contact a reputable yoga instructor to help you get the most benefit and relief from your yoga sessions.

Chiropractic: Chiropractic manipulation is used to promote proper movement of the bones in the wrist and hand to relieve pressure on the ulnar nerve. The chiropractor will use myofascial therapy (a type of muscle massage) to remove scar tissue and release nerve entrapments. He or she often will use deep tissue laser therapy as part of the treatment. It reduces the pain and inflammation around the elbow and promotes healing of the injured tissues.

Acupuncture: This Eastern healing technique is used to relieve many different conditions and has been used successfully to reduce the discomfort cubital tunnel syndrome and aid in the healing process. By placing tiny needles in certain points on the body, practitioners attempt to regulate how neurotransmitters, some of which are responsible for pain relief, relaxation and calm, travel through the nervous system.

If you have an entrapment of the ulnar nerve causing pain and numbness, one of these non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical alternative therapies may offer the relief you need. Give one or more of them a try. What do you have to lose? Contact a company like Human Technology for more information.