Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Information

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Information

Cubital tunnel syndrome, also called cell phone elbow, is one of two ulnar nerve entrapment syndromes. While ulnar nerve entrapment may occur in the wrist (Guyon’s canal syndrome), it most often occurs at the elbow (cubital tunnel syndrome). Of all the compressive neuropathies, cubital tunnel syndrome is the second most frequently occurring, right behind carpal tunnel syndrome. The compressive neuropathies are distinguished by the nerve affected and the area of the nerve affected. In cubital tunnel syndrome, it is the ulnar nerve area near the elbow that’s affected.

 

 

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Anatomy As It Relates To Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

The ulnar nerve is one of three main nerves that originate where nerve roots leave the spine on the side of the neck. The ulnar nerve runs down the inside of the upper arm. Just behind the inner edge of the elbow, the ulnar nerve passes through a tunnel of muscle, bone, and ligament. This tunnel is called the cubital tunnel. The nerve runs very close to the skin surface and bone here. In fact, this grove can usually be felt if you place a finger on the inside edge of the elbow and straighten your arm out. When this area is hit, many call it “hitting your funny bone.” What's actually being hit is a bony bump (the medial epicondyle) on the inner portion of the elbow. The sensation felt when this area is hit is from the ulnar nerve being compressed between the bone and overlying skin. From the cubital tunnel, the ulnar nerve then travels down the forearm and into the palm side of the hand and little finger.

Feeling to the little finger and adjacent half of the ring finger is supplied by the ulnar nerve. The tiny muscles in the hand that help with fine motor movement are also controlled by the ulnar nerve.

What Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

Cubital tunnel syndrome is an increased pressure or compression of the ulnar nerve where it passes the elbow. This compression or pressure is great enough to disturb the natural functioning of the nerve.

What Causes Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

Since the nerve runs so close to bone and the skin surface at the elbow and has little to pad it, it is highly susceptible to becoming compressed when pressure is placed on the elbow. If the pressure is prolonged or intense, it may affect how the nerve works. There are many factors that can contribute to compression of the ulnar nerve:

* prolonged leaning or laying on the elbows (note the painful asleep feeling that’s felt after you’ve fallen asleep on your arm or propped up on them for several minutes)
* repetitive or prolonged elbow flexion (such as from pulling levers, talking on a cell phone, or lifting items up and down)
* inflammation of the surrounding soft tissue (tendons, muscle, and ligaments) can compress the ulnar nerve and also cause it to rub across the medial epicondyle as the elbow is flexed and extended
* a direct hit to the area of the elbow where the ulnar nerve passes
* prior elbow injuries (fractures, strains, sprains, and such)
* ganglion cysts on the elbow
* nighttime sleeping with the elbow bent or curled under the head

What Are The Symptoms Of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

* sensation of the ring and little finger being “asleep” (numbness and tingling)
* may be difficult to move the little finger and ring finger or manipulate objects with these two fingers
* grip may be weakened
* finger coordination may be poor
* aching pain on the inside aspect of the elbow
* the above symptoms may be especially noticeable when the elbow is bent and subside when the elbow is rested
* bumping the funny bone area will cause a painful shock-like sensation to run from the elbow to the little finger (Tinel’s sign)

 

Strengthening Exercises

These Elbow Exercises are ideal to build strength and flexibility.

Massage Treatment

These Elbow Massage Techniques are of great value in pain relief; circulation stimulation; dispersing blood and fluid accumulations; swelling reduction; and relaxing muscle spasms, especially when used alongside the Sinew Therapeutics liniments and soaks.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage is characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and possibly a local sensation of heat, indicating inflammation. If coolness makes your pain feel better, then the Acute Stage Treatment is recommended.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The acute stage starts the moment an injury occurs and lasts until the swelling and inflammation are gone. The swelling is the result of the blockage of blood, tissue fluids and circulation in the elbow because their normal movement has been disrupted by the force of the injury. Just like cars back up behind a traffic jam, causing congestion, exhaust and overheating; blood and fluids back up behind the injured elbow, causing pain, inflammation, lumps and swelling.

The sensation of heat is due to the warming action of the blood and fluids overheating in the injured elbow as they back up and accumulate. Stiffness and decreased mobility are due to spasms in tendons and ligaments that have contracted reflexively beyond their normal range from the impact of the injury.

As ligaments and tendons stretch and tear, blood from ruptured blood vessels becomes trapped in the local tissues. As the trapped blood clots up, it sticks the tissues together creating adhesions. Adhesions cause pain, inflammation and restricted movement because the layers of tissue that used to slide smoothly across one another now adhere and snap which interferes with normal functioning. It is essential to break up clotted blood as quickly as possible to prevent adhesions and scar tissue from forming.

During the acute stage it is very important to restore normal circulation to the elbow, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, reduce swelling, and reduce the redness and heat associated with inflammation. By restoring the flow of blood, fluids, and circulation in the elbow, then pain is relieved, damaged tissues can regenerate with healthy functional tissue, and the elbow can strengthen and regain it's mobility.

 

ACUTE STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Apply the Sinew Herbal Ice on your elbow to reduce redness, swelling, and inflammation while dispersing accumulated blood and fluids to help restore normal circulation to the elbow. This first-aid treatment is used in place of ice to significantly speed up the healing process. It reduces the swelling and inflammation more effectively than ice, allowing you to more quickly regain range of motion. Acute Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

Ice is not recommended because it does not help repair damaged tissues and keeps everything in the injured area frozen, causing the stagnation of blood and fluids and the contraction of muscles, tendons and ligaments. In Chinese sports medicine ice is not used and is considered a culprit in injuries that donít heal well.

2. Massage your elbow with Acute Sinew Liniment to relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, and stimulate circulation of blood and fluids to help cells quickly repair damaged tissues. Sinew Herbal Ice can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.

 

 

CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness, and/or sensitivity in cold and damp weather. If heat makes your pain feel better, then the Chronic Stage Treatment is recommended.


CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The chronic stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel aching pain and stiffness. This is because there are still accumulations of stagnant blood and fluids in your elbow that are blocking circulation and blood supply to damaged tissues, creating residual pain, stiffness and weakness. You may actually feel hard nodules like sand in the tissue, indicating accumulation, calcification, and adhesions, which all cause pain, stiffness, and joint instability.

Your elbow may feel more sensitive to the cold and ache in cold and damp weather due to impaired circulation. When you move your elbow you may hear a clicking or popping sound from the tendons and ligaments slipping very slightly in and out of their natural alignment indicating weakness and joint instability, causing chronic pain and a cycle of reinjury. These symptoms are often the result of failure to treat the injury properly from the outset and overicing.

Increasing circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues is very important in treating chronic injuries because tendons and ligaments do not have an extensive direct supply of blood. That is why chronic injuries can be slow to heal. Increasing local circulation also prevents cold and dampness from penetrating the injured area, preventing pain and stiffness.

During the chronic stage it is very important to break up remaining accumulations of blood and fluids, and increase circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues. By increasing circulation and blood flow in the elbow, then pain and stiffness is relieved, and the tendons and ligaments can strengthen to restore stability.


CHRONIC STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Massage your elbow with Chronic Sinew Liniment to relieve pain and stiffness, strongly stimulate circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues, and promote the healing of overstretched tendons and ligaments. Sinew Injury Poultice can be used in-between applications.

2. Apply the Sinew Injury Poultice on your elbow to relieve residual pain and stiffness, significantly stimulate circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues, and further promote the healing of overstretched tendons and ligaments. The Sinew Injury Poultice is particularly useful if your elbow is more painful in cold and damp weather. Chronic Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.