When the ulnar nerve is irritated, it can cause pain, numbness, tingling or burning into the small finger and part of the ring finger. The cubital tunnel where the nerve traverses is fixed in size, so any inflammation causes compression of the nerve leading to numbness and tingling in the hand or wrist.
Ulnar nerve compression at the wrist is sometimes referred as Guyon’s Canal Syndrome. A syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve in the wrist becomes compressed by injury or repeated strain. The ulnar nerve enters the hand through Guyon’s canal at the wrist and not well protected and is therefore at more risk of injury.
Ulnar tunnel syndrome is less common than carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome. Ulnar nerve compression at the wrist is a less common problem than compression at the elbow. Compression at the wrist is usually associated with repetitive trauma or ganglions.
Treatment for ulnar tunnel syndrome can include surgery or wearing a wrist brace. The surgery may require a ligament to be cut to relieve the pressure in the wrist. Surgery should provide relief from pain, numbness or weakness, but recovery may last several months before the nerve has completely healed.
Ulnar nerve compression at the elbow occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed or irritated. The ulnar nerve travels through the cubital tunnel that runs under a bony bump called the medial epicondyle, where the nerve is close to your skin, and bumping it causes a shock-like feeling.
The ulnar nerve is one of three main nerves in the arm and begins in the neck and then enters into the hand. As the ulnar nerve enters the hand, it travels through another tunnel called Guyon's canal. The ulnar nerve controls most of the tiny muscles in the hand and some of the muscles in the forearm that make a strong grip.
The ulnar nerve can be constricted in several places, such as beneath the collarbone, elbow or the wrist. Right behind the inside part of the elbow is the most common place for ulnar nerve compression. Ulnar nerve compression at the elbow is sometimes called cubital tunnel syndrome.
Numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers are common symptoms of ulnar nerve compression at the elbow. If the nerve compression is causing muscle weakness, the doctor may recommend surgery.