Are you experiencing tingling or numbness in the ring, little fingers or both? Those are some of the major signs of cubital tunnel syndrome. So, how long does cubital tunnel syndrome last? Read on.
The condition is also referred to as ulnar nerve entrapment or compression. The ulnar nerve usually runs from the neck to the hand, providing sensation to the ring and little fingers. The nerve connects to muscles in the hand that are critical for power grip. It passes through an opening known as a cubital tunnel.
How Does Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Occur?
Cubital tunnel occurs when the ulnar nerve, or the funny bone, becomes compressed, irritated or stretched. When that happens, it results in numbness in the hand, wrist and fingers. The ulnar nerve gets its name due to its location near the ulnar bone.
Since the nerve covers the entire arm’s length, several areas can get irritated. The area that is affected most is the elbow in the cubital tunnel. The tunnel in this area is a small passage of ligament, muscle and bone.
This area has little subcutaneous tissue and fat, meaning the nerve is close to the skin surface and, therefore, more sensitive. That’s why a person with cubital tunnel syndrome may feel like an electric shock is running through the elbow if they hit it on something.
What are the Possible Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Most people with cubital tunnel syndrome experience pain and numbness in the arm, forearm and fingers. As the condition advances, you may experience weakness in the arm resulting in a reduced or weakened grip.
Most people report waking up at night from numbness or pain in the hands or fingers. The pain and numbness may make it difficult to straighten or bend the fingers. You may also experience difficulties manipulating things with your hands or fingers. Over time, you may notice muscle loss at the base of the first finger or thumb.
How Long Does Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Last?
Cubital tunnel syndrome is one of the most common hand and upper limb compression disorders after carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition can develop in people of all ages but tends to affect men more than women. Certain factors increase your chance of developing cubital tunnel. They include:
- Working a job that requires repetitive wrist and hand movements
- Trauma to the ulnar nerve
- Physical differences like a variation in the cubital tunnel shape
- Obesity, diabetes, thyroid disease or rheumatoid arthritis
- People who also spend a lot of time with their elbows flexed, such as when talking on the phone
The symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome can last for years and worsen over time. In most cases, they begin gradually. Most patients’ symptoms come and go, so they don’t seek treatment. Like many other conditions of the hand and limbs, it’s possible to slow down or stop the progression of the disease if treatment is sort early.
See a healthcare provider if symptoms persist for more than 6 weeks or become severe. If you wait too long, you might eventually experience muscle loss or wasting in your hand. The first line of treatment involves rest, anti-inflammatory medication, wearing a brace or hand therapy. If that fails, then surgical approach is the next best option. You can recover through non-surgical and surgical treatment, depending on the disease progression.
However, nerve damage is irreversible if the ulnar nerve gets severely compressed or you experience muscle wasting. That means symptoms like pain, tingling and numbness may remain even after surgery. The good news is that nerves do finally recover, though slowly. Because of that, you might regain some function after some time.
Are you worried that you may have cubital tunnel syndrome or want to know more about how long cubital tunnel lasts? Book an appointment today at the Harley Clinic by calling us on 0203 582 4947 or sending an email to [email protected].
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