Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a common form of nerve compression causing numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is treated by Dr. Peter G. Fitzgibbons, MD at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics: Maryland Orthopedic Specialists Division. Dr. Fitzgibbons performed fellowship-training in hand, wrist, and elbow surgery through the Harvard Hand & Upper Extremity Fellowship based at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. With locations in both Germantown and Bethesda, Maryland, he and a team of orthopaedists, hand therapists, and physical therapists offer a comprehensive range of services covering the diagnosis and treatment of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.
The Cubital Tunnel is a channel along the inside of the elbow. The ulnar nerve (the “funny bone” nerve) passes through that channel. This area can sometimes get too tight, especially when the elbow is bent and the nerve is stretched. This causes the blood supply to the nerve to get cut off. The nerve stops working and as result people can have numbness or weakness in the hand and sometimes an aching pain on the inside of the elbow. Often this happens at night while sleeping.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is diagnosed with during a visit with your doctor, who will do a thorough history, a physical examination, and sometimes a nerve test (a test performed by a nerve specialist).
Initial treatment for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is usually with anti-inflammatory medications and sometimes a splint or wrap for the elbow at night to keep it from bending. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome often gets better on its own over time. If symptoms are mild there is often no need to do anything other than wait it out. When symptoms are not getting better with medications and a splint or wrap, or the nerve compression is significant, surgery may be recommended.
Surgery for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is performed as an outpatient procedure (i.e. patients do not spend the night in the hospital) and is usually done with general anesthesia (i.e. patients are completely asleep). During the surgery, the tight band-like channel around the tendon is released, and in some cases, the nerve is moved into the front of the elbow to stabilize it and prevent further symptoms. Dr. Fitzgibbons performs most of these procedures at the Massachusetts Avenue Surgery Center, an outpatient surgery center that provides a safe, patient-oriented experience in a friendly and comfortable environment.