This is entrapment of the ulnar nerve at the level of the medial epicondyle of the elbow (‘funny bone’) and is characterised by numbness of the little and ring fingers, tingling, weakness and wasting of the small muscles of the hand, depending on the severity. The cause is not usually obvious; occasionally it develops in patients who lean on their elbows a lot, have had trauma to the elbow or who have arthritis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
This is usually confirmed with nerve conduction studies. Treatment if mild, may simply involve lifestyle modifications (avoiding sleeping with elbows bent/avoidance of leaning on elbows) or in patients with significant symptoms, surgical decompression of the ulnar nerve at the level of the ‘funny bone’.
In mild/moderate cases the sensory symptoms often resolve with surgery but in advanced cases, the aim of surgery is to prevent further damage to the nerve.