October 7, 2022

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: What You Can Expect From Life After Surgery

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Cubital tunnel syndrome, also known as ulnar nerve entrapment, occurs when the ulnar nerve becomes inflamed or compressed inside the elbow. It causes significant discomfort and difficulty for the patient and, in severe cases, can result in loss of hand function. Cubital tunnel syndrome is another common misdiagnosis. For treatment, you may contact the best ortho doctor in Mumbai or at your preferred location. 

What is cubital tunnel syndrome?

An ulnar nerve injury or compression is known as cubital tunnel syndrome. The ulnar nerve is one of the three major nerves in your arm. The nerve runs down from the neck, travels along the inside of the elbow, and then enters your hand. There are several places in the hand where it can be compressed, notably the wrist. However, it most commonly occurs at the elbow. It is because the nerve passes through a very narrow space at this point and is not sufficiently protected by soft tissue. Therefore, the compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow is known as cubital tunnel syndrome.

A compressed ulnar nerve is often caused by unknown factors. However, the following factors can play a role:

  • Pressure: Leaning frequently on your elbow, especially on hard surfaces, can irritate the nerve.
  • Stretching: Bending your elbows for an extended period. If you bend your elbow while sleeping or talking on the phone, you may stretch the nerve.
  • Fluid accumulation: A buildup of fluid may lead to swelling, which can compress the nerve.
  • Anatomy: The ulnar nerve can sometimes become inflamed when it does not remain in its position. It is possible for the soft tissues that cover the nerve to thicken as well.
  • Exercise: Certain repeated movements may increase the likelihood of developing cubital tunnel syndrome.

What are the symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

Following are some of the most common symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome:

  • Tingling and numbness in your fingers, which may occur intermittently or when your elbow is bent
  • Numbness and pain in the elbow
  • Your grip is weakened, and your fingers lose coordination.
  • Muscle loss is possible if the symptoms are severe or treatment is not received.
  • Hands with claw-like deformities

What are the treatment options for cubital tunnel syndrome?

Mild cases may sometimes be improved by implementing the following measures:

  • Using an armrest or leaning on the elbow to protect it from pressure
  • Protecting your elbows while at work by wearing elbow pads
  • Wear a splint overnight to prevent your elbow from bending
  • Take frequent breaks while performing physical activities.
  • In the case of newly developed symptoms, you may take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling.

Sometimes, surgery is necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve caused by cubital tunnel syndrome. Such a procedure is referred to as cubital tunnel release. You may need this procedure when the nerve is compressed severely or if your muscles are damaged or weak.

What can you expect from cubital tunnel surgery?

Surgical treatment is usually recommended for severe cases of cubital tunnel syndrome. There may be a necessity to cut a nearby ligament, reposition the ulnar nerve, or scrape off a small amount of bone to fix the problem. No matter which method of cubital tunnel surgery is used, you will receive a cast as part of the recovery process. Once the cast has been removed, you can begin using the hand again.

Additionally, you may be required to wear a splint or padded sleeve during the healing period following surgery. The pain you are experiencing from cubital tunnel syndrome should subside during this period. Those who frequently use computers may require cubital tunnel surgery. 

As it can be misdiagnosed, a referral from the best ortho doctor in Mumbai can help with suitable surgery options for your condition. In many cases, the decision will be based on the severity of the condition.

Life After Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Surgery

A majority of patients experiencing cubital tunnel syndrome are relieved of their symptoms after surgery. Therefore, it is likely that most of the pain and tingling will disappear within a short period. Nevertheless, some numbness may persist for a few months following your cubital tunnel surgery. Additionally, you may experience pain where the surgery took place during the healing process.

For about six months following cubital tunnel surgery, the inside of the elbow may be painful and swollen. After surgery, if you experience a similar level of pain to before treatment, you should consult your doctor. After undergoing cubital tunnel surgery, you will need to wear a cast over the affected area until you return home. It is, however, necessary to keep the cast, as well as the surrounding area, clean and dry for at least four weeks.

In conclusion

It is usual to instruct patients to gently bend and straighten their fingers and elbows after the cast has been removed. Getting treatment from the best ortho doctor in Mumbai can help speed up the recovery. They may prescribe a padded elbow brace to provide additional comfort. You may be instructed to massage the area surrounding the incision and to use ice packs to help reduce scarring as the healing process proceeds.

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