Dr. Carlos Rebollón

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome - in Panama

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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

This symptomatic disorder causes pain in the elbow, numbness, and weakness in the hand, especially in the pinky and ring fingers. Over time, cubital tunnel syndrome can limit hand function, restrict grip strength, and, in chronic cases, cause muscle atrophy and deformity in the hand structures.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to correct your condition! Consult with Dr. Rebollón right away if you think you may be suffering from cubital tunnel syndrome.

WHAT IS CUBITAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a neuropathy caused by compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow. The arm has three main nerves, one of which is the ulnar nerve that passes through the inner part of the elbow, also known as the cubital tunnel.

Pressure on the cubital tunnel area irritates the nerve, leading to various sensations such as tingling, weakness, and pain that radiate from the elbow to the fingers.

SYMPTOMS OF CUBITAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

The characteristic symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include:

Intermittent numbness and tingling in the pinky and ring fingers.

Dull pain in the elbow or forearm.

Weakness in gripping objects with the hand.

Difficulty coordinating the fingers.

Over time, individuals who do not receive treatment may experience irreversible muscle wasting in the affected hand.

Que Es El Sindrome Del Tunel Cubital

Diagnostic process

Physical examination is the foundation for diagnosing cubital tunnel syndrome. However, in some cases, the specialist may conduct additional studies to assess the extent of internal damage. These additional tests may include:

Nerve conduction studies: to evaluate the transmission and intensity of electrical signals through the nerves.

Electromyography: to measure the electrical activity of muscles.

Imaging tests: X-rays can identify the cause of nerve compression (such as bone spurs, arthritis, etc.), which is particularly useful in cases where surgery is being considered as a definitive treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome.

Causes of cubital tunnel syndrome

Sintomas Del Sindrome Del Tunel Cubital

The ulnar nerve is vulnerable to compression in the elbow area due to the limited space and the minimal soft tissue covering it. In most cases, the exact cause of cubital tunnel syndrome is unknown, as there are many factors that can result in abnormal pressure.

This neuropathy can be the result of:

Prolonged resting of the elbow on a hard surface, which irritates the nerve.

Direct impact to the inner part of the elbow.

Engaging in repetitive movements (e.g., throwing sports).

Fluid accumulation in the elbow, leading to inflammation and subsequent nerve compression.

Treatments for cubital tunnel syndrome

Treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome is typically conservative, reserving surgery for patients with significant muscle wasting. Your treatment options may include:

Medications

The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (oral) is an option for patients with recent symptoms. Steroid injections are not recommended for this condition due to the high risk of nerve damage.

Immobilization

Splints and elbow braces are widely recommended to keep the elbow straight, prevent excessive flexion, and thereby reduce pressure in this area.

Physiotherapy

A physiotherapist will help you perform exercises to increase strength, flexibility, and range of motion while preventing stiffness in the arm, elbow, and wrist.

Surgery

If conservative methods do not alleviate your condition and the nerve remains compressed, an orthopedic surgeon may suggest surgical intervention to decompress the ulnar nerve. In this case, the goal is to improve compression and restore nerve function.

Cubital tunnel release: Part of the cubital tunnel ligament is cut to increase the tunnel's size and reduce nerve pressure.

Causas Del Sindrome Del Tunel Cubital

Anterior transposition of the ulnar nerve: The surgeon, using special techniques, moves the nerve to a new position to distance it from the compression area.

Medial epicondylectomy: During this procedure, a small portion of the medial epicondyle (bony prominence of the elbow) is removed to prevent nerve compression during flexion and extension movements of the elbow.

Rehabilitation

After surgery, the specialist will recommend using an immobilization device for several weeks, with the duration depending on the specific procedure performed. At this stage, physiotherapy is crucial to regain full strength and mobility in the arm. Depending on your progress, the doctor will indicate when you can resume your usual activities.

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