Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the ulnar nerve becomes compressed at the elbow, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The ulnar nerve is vulnerable to compression at the elbow due to a lack of protective soft tissue and the narrow passageway through which it passes.
The exact causes of cubital tunnel syndrome are not known in many cases, though causes may include leaning on one elbow for long periods of time, direct blows to the elbow, or fluid buildup, states the AAOS. People are at a higher risk of developing cubital tunnel syndrome if they have risk factors such as prior fractures or dislocations of the elbow, cysts, arthritis, or if they engage in activities in which the elbow is bent or stretched in repetitive motions or over long periods of time.
Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include tingling in the little and ring fingers, difficulty manipulating objects, weakening of the grip, and in more severe cases, irreversible muscle wasting of the hand, according to the AAOS. Nonsurgical treatments for the condition includes bracing or splinting the affected elbow, steroid injections and nerve gliding exercises. Surgical remedies for cubital tunnel syndrome include ulnar nerve anterior transpositions, medial epicondylectomies and cubital tunnel releases.