Ulnar Neuropathy sounds serious and complicated, but it is a condition that involves the nerve in the elbow. There are nerves all over the body. They stem from the spinal cord and help with feeling and sensations. Ulnar neuropathy is an extremely common nerve condition. The elbow joint is a fairly large joint, but there are narrow openings that allow for nerves to flow through. When you hit your “funny bone,” you are not hitting a bone at all, but the nerve in the elbow. The nerves in the elbow are susceptible to many problems. If the nerve is irritated, you will develop ulnar neuropathy. There are methods of treatment that might help the condition.
Nerves are all over the body. They look like a channel of connected wires. They all communicate through electricity and chemicals. The brain controls nerves. The brain is then connected to the spinal cord. From the spinal cord stems all the other nerves in the body.
Nerves are extremely thin. The size of a nerve allows it to slip through small areas. If the nerve were too large, they would not be able to rest between bones and other tiny areas of the body. The ulnar nerve is one that is located in a sensitive spot. The nerve travels from the neck to the hand. There are several places the ulnar nerve can experience pressure. The most common place is the elbow. When there are problems in the nerve, you will start to experience symptoms.
Symptoms of Ulnar Neuropathy
The symptoms of ulnar neuropathy vary. Tingling is one of them. Tingling typically happens in the elbow and the fourth or fifth finger. The ulnar nerve controls the fourth and fifth finger, but other nerves control the first three fingers. You will also experience pain in the elbow. The pain will be very uncomfortable. You will feel as if you cannot get any relief. If you keep your elbow bent for too long, the sensations in the elbow will feel abnormal. Understanding what causes these problems will also help you get the treatment you need.
Causes of Ulnar Neuropathy
Ulnar neuropathy is the entrapment or compression of the ulnar nerve. Space, where the ulnar nerve rests in the elbow, is very limited. If there is any inflammation or shift in the structures around the elbow, the nerve will easily be compressed. The elbow naturally bends. That is just part of its function. When the elbow bends, the nerve moves as well. The nerve stretches around the bone. When the elbow is bent too long, the nerve will become irritated. It then causes a lot of numbness. The nerve may also move in a sliding motion. This constant movement will cause a lot of irritation. Leaning on the elbow will also put pressure on the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve is not protected inside the bone; therefore, it is possible to put pressure on it. An injury is another cause. If you hit your elbow or take a blow to the elbow, it can damage the nerve and cause symptoms. Breaks to the elbow bone as well as elbow dislocation can trap the nerve and hinder its ability to move. Arthritis causes inflammation in the joints which is a common problem and typically experienced by those who are older. Bone spurs is another factor. Sometimes the bone has outgrowths that decrease the space for the nerve. This outgrowth, known as a bone spur, adds compression to the nerve.
Treatment for Ulnar Neuropathy
Neuropathy refers to nerve damage. When the nerve becomes damaged, treatment is that much harder. The best thing to do is get treatment before you reach the stage of nerve damage. Physical therapy is one method of treatment. It works well to ease the symptoms of neuropathy. Rehab is another method of treatment that is slightly different from physical therapy. Rehab helps to rebuild your strength in the elbow. It is done when your symptoms are more serious. Sometimes wearing a splint helps. The splint is flexible and not hard like a cast. The splint holds the elbow in place and a lot of times does wonders for your pain. Surgery is another option. Surgery is not the most common form of treatment, but when the neuropathy is pretty severe, surgery may be the best method of treatment. During the surgery, the surgeon relieves the pressure on the nerve. After recovery, you should feel back to normal. All of these treatments have the potential to bring relief. Unfortunately, if the nerve is severed, there is nothing a surgeon can do.
Ulnar neuropathy is a common condition, in fact, it is second most common nerve condition. Ulnar neuropathy is one condition that can be avoided. Keeping pressure off your elbow is important. If you can, try to move your elbow around and not let it stay bent all day long. When you sleep, you should also try to stretch your arm out. Do the simple things to keep pressure off the nerve. The simple things can make a big difference.
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