Skip to content

Pain Management Health Center

Font Size

Cubital and Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome and radial tunnel syndrome aren't as familiar as their better-known relative -- carpal tunnel syndrome -- but they also can cause severe pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the hands and arms.

The common cause of all these nerve compression syndromes is increased pressure -- usually from bone or connective tissue -- on a nerve in the wrist, arm, or elbow. In most cases, cubital tunnel syndrome and radial tunnel syndrome can be managed with conservative treatments. But more severe cases may require surgery to reduce pressure on the affected nerve.

Recommended Related to Pain Management

Chronic Pain: Does Vitamin D Help?

Not getting enough vitamin D in your system may be linked to chronic pain. Over the past 10 years, several researchers have found an association between extremely low vitamin D levels and chronic, general pain that doesn’t respond to treatment. Many Americans are running low on vitamin D. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009 showed that vitamin D levels have plummeted among all U.S. ages, races, and ethnic groups over the past two decades. But does not having enough vitamin...

Read the Chronic Pain: Does Vitamin D Help? article > >

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Causes and Symptoms

Cubital tunnel syndrome -- also known as ulnar neuropathy -- is caused by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve, which passes close to the skin's surface in the area of the elbow commonly known as the "funny bone." You're more likely to develop cubital tunnel syndrome if you:

  • Repeatedly lean on your elbow, especially on a hard surface
  • Bend your elbow for sustained periods, such as while talking on a cell phone or sleeping with your hand crooked under your pillow

Sometimes, cubital tunnel syndrome results from abnormal bone growth in the elbow or from intense physical activity that increases pressure on the ulnar nerve. Baseball pitchers, for example, have an increased risk of cubital tunnel syndrome, because the twisting motion required to throw a slider can damage delicate ligaments in the elbow.

Early symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include:

  • Pain and numbness in the elbow
  • Tingling, especially in the ring and little fingers

More severe symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include:

  • Weakness affecting the ring and little fingers
  • Decreased ability to pinch the thumb and little finger
  • Decreased overall hand grip
  • Muscle wasting in the hand
  • Claw-like deformity of the hand

If you have any of these symptoms, your doctor may be able to diagnose cubital tunnel syndrome by physical examination alone. He or she also may order a verve conduction study and a test called electromyography. Electromyography is a procedure in which electrodes placed into muscles and on the skin measure the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them, to confirm the diagnosis, identify the area of nerve damage, and determine the severity of the condition.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

pain in brain and nerves
Top causes and how to find relief.
knee exercise
8 exercises for less knee pain.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
illustration of nerves in hand
lumbar spine
Woman opening window
Man holding handful of pills
Woman shopping for vegetables
Sore feet with high heel shoes
acupuncture needles in woman's back
man with a migraine