Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition where the ulnar nerve – one of the main nerves supplying the hand – is compressed at the level of the elbow. The point of compression is a ligament passing over the nerve.
Any condition that increases pressure in the cubital tunnel can cause this condition. There is usually no obvious cause but arthritis or fluid collections around the elbow can sometimes be identified. It can often be caused or exacerbated by long periods spent with the elbows flexed.
Dysfunction of the ulnar nerve can cause pain, tingling and numbness of the ring and little fingers, and occasionally weakness and clumsiness in the hand. The pain can often shoot from the elbow down to the hand.
Nerve conduction tests are usually necessary to confirm the diagnosis of cubital tunnel syndrome, and sometimes imaging in the form of ultrasound or MRI will be required.
The diagnosis will be made after clinical examination and interpretation of the imaging and nerve conduction studies. Examination in person is the most important part of the evaluation of cubital tunnel syndrome.