Trauma can cause cubital tunnel syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome

Cause and symptoms

The cubital tunnel syndrome (sulcus ulnaris syndrome, ulnar groove syndrome, ulnar groove syndrome) is caused by a constriction of the ulnar nerve (nervus ulnaris) in the elbow canal (cubital tunnel). In most cases, the cause of this problem is unknown. The cause can be an elbow joint injury years ago, osteoarthritis of the elbow or chronic pressure damage to the nerve.

Typical symptoms of the cubital tunnel syndrome are discomfort or numbness on the little finger, ring finger on the side of the little finger and on the edge of the hand on the side of the little finger. Prolonged entrapment leads to a reduction in strength (paresis) in the hand, e.g. when writing and spreading the fingers. Eventually, muscle wasting (atrophy) occurs in the metacarpus, which is best seen between the thumb and forefinger. The diagnosis is usually confirmed by a neurologist's measurement of the electrical conductivity of the nerve. Timely surgical treatment leads to permanent improvement (healing), but existing muscle wasting (atrophy) is not or only insufficiently capable of recovery.


If simple measures such as short-term immobilization and padding have not led to any improvement, surgical treatment of the cubital tunnel syndrome makes sense. The ulnar nerve must be freed from all possible constrictions (decompressed)
With the introduction of the endoscopic surgical technique, the functional disability is low.
The technology of endoscopic surgery only requires a very small incision (approx. 20 mm), but allows extensive decompression of the nerve (20 to 30 cm). An upholstered bandage is then worn for a week so that there is no significant functional impairment after the operation. For many non-manual workers, work can in most cases be resumed the day after the operation.

The traditionally used surgical methods require long incisions, very invasive tissue preparation and often the nerve is displaced from its normal anatomical position. This technique leads to scarring of the nerves and not infrequently to weeks and months of impairment of the arm.