Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and Other Hand Numbness/Nerve Compression Problems

Cubital tunnel syndrome and other hand numbness/nerve compression problems can cause a number of symptoms in the hand and forearm, such as weakness, numbness, pain, and tingling. Treatment can usually ease symptoms and ranges from conservative to surgical options.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition that arises from increased pressure or compression on the ulnar nerve, which runs in a tunnel of bone and tissue at the inside of the elbow. When this tunnel becomes narrowed or if the nerve is compressed, it can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the ring and small fingers, forearm, and/or weakness in the hand.

Other Hand Numbness/Nerve Compression Problems

Other common hand numbness/nerve compression problems include:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Compression of the median nerve in the wrist, causing numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and fingers. More information on carpal tunnel syndrome here.
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Compression of the nerves or blood vessels in the thoracic outlet (just under your collarbone), leading to numbness in the arm and hand.
  • Guyon’s Canal Syndrome: Compression of the ulnar nerve at the wrist, leading to numbness and tingling in the little and ring fingers.
  • Pronator Syndrome: Compression of the median nerve in the upper forearm near the elbow, causing pain and numbness in the forearm and hand.
  • Symptoms

  • Treatment


Common symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and other hand numbness and nerve compression problems include:

  • Numbness and tingling in the forearm, wrist, hand, or fingers
  • Weakness in the hand that may affect grip
  • Pain and discomfort, especially at the inside of the elbow
  • Symptoms may worsen while gripping or holding items or while performing certain actions

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes cubital tunnel syndrome? 

There are several causes of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, including:

  • Repeated bending of the elbow, such as pulling levers or lifting weights
  • Direct pressure on the elbow, such as resting the elbow on an armrest
  • Bone spurs or arthritis in the elbow
  • Swelling or fluid build-up in the elbow

How can I prevent cubital tunnel syndrome?

Reducing repetitive elbow movements, avoiding prolonged elbow bending or resting on your elbows, and using proper ergonomics can help in reducing the risk of developing cubital tunnel syndrome. Focus on keeping your arms strong and flexible, and always warm up before exercising or using your arms for repetitive movements (including sports).

Is cubital tunnel syndrome similar to carpal tunnel syndrome?

Although both conditions involve nerve compression, they affect different areas of the forearm. Carpal tunnel syndrome involves the median nerve at the wrist, while cubital tunnel syndrome involves the ulnar nerve at the elbow.

How are nerve compression problems of the hand, wrist, and arm diagnosed?

A thorough physical examination, patient history, and specific tests can help confirm a diagnosis of cubital tunnel syndrome or other nerve compression problems. Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies are sometimes used to measure the electrical activity of muscles and the speed and degree of electrical signals traveling down the nerves. X-rays may also be performed to look for arthritis or bone spurs.