Ulnar nerve damage or cubital tunnel syndrome causes tingling in the pinky finger, notes WebMD. Direct nerve injury, long-term pressure and illness that affect the ulnar nerve impair its signaling ability, according to the U.S National Library of Medicine.
Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs due to damage on the ulnar nerve that facilitates movement and sensations, according to the University of Florida Health. The nerve starts in the neck and traces its way to the hand through the inner side of the elbow. Flexing of the elbow increases pressure on the nerve. The cubital tunnel has fibers that serve as a passageway for the ulnar nerve. A constriction in the tunnel entraps the ulnar nerve and causes numbness and tingling in the small finger.
Intermittent tingling and needle-like sensations are the initial symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. As the disease progresses, elbow pain and numbness occur, and the ring and pinky fingers later become deformed and adopt a claw hand posture. One is likely to develop the syndrome if he leans his elbow repeatedly on hard surfaces or bends his elbow for long durations, notes UF Health.
Diagnosis often involves a physical examination by a physician. To relieve the syndrome, a person can alter the actions that trigger it. In severe cases, surgical procedures decompress the nerve or shift it to alleviate pain, although the tingling takes time to improve, according to WebMD.