Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed or irritated. The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves in your arm. It travels from your neck down into your hand, and can be constricted in several places along the way. Depending upon where ithe compression occurs, this pressure on the nerve can cause numbness or pain in your elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers.
When your bend your elbow, the ulnar nerve stretches around the bony ridge of the medial epicondyle. Because this can irritate the nerve, keeping your elbow bent for long periods or repeatedly bending your elbow can cause painful symptoms. For example, many people sleep with their elbows bent. This can aggravate symptoms of ulnar nerve compression and cause you to wake up at night with your fingers asleep.
- Tingling or numbness in the ring and little fingers
- Weakening of the grip
- Difficulty with finger coordination
If the nerve compression is severe and has been occurring for an extended period of time, muscle wasting in the hand can occur. Muscle wasting cannot be reversed making the need for rapid diagnosis and treatment a priority when symptoms are first experienced.
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Meet the Doctor
After graduating from Loma Linda School of Medicine Dr. Unsell spent more than a decade serving at Loma Linda in several positions including the Assistant Professor of Orthopedics as well as the Assistant director of the Hand Fellowship Program. He has been involved with the training of 35 hand fellows, 15 of which now hold academic teaching positions.