When people hear “ulnar nerve” their first thought is usually the elbow or the “funny bone,” however, the ulnar nerve doesn’t just affect the elbow; it can also affect your wrists and hands.
I have represented a lot of injured workers who have suffered damage to their ulnar nerve and, by all accounts, ulnar nerve entrapment or injuries to the ulnar nerve can be extremely painful.
What is the ulnar nerve?
The ulnar nerve is a branch of the brachial plexus nerve system. With help from the median nerve, the ulnar nerve provides sensation to the flexor muscles of the hands and feet allowing for bending.
What is ulnar nerve entrapment?
Ulnar nerve neuropathy due to ulnar nerve entrapment is often a painful disorder of the outer side of the arm and hand near the little finger caused by pressure on the ulnar nerve in your arm.
Causes of ulnar nerve entrapment:
Ulnar nerve neuropathy can be a condition of nerve entrapment. The ulnar nerve can be constricted as it passes through the wrist or elbow. The ulnar nerve transmits electrical signals to muscles in the forearm and hand. The nerve is responsible for sensation in the fourth and fifth fingers of the hand, the palm, and the underside of the forearm.
Symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment
- Ulnar nerve entrapment can give symptoms of “falling asleep” in the ring finger and little finger, especially when your elbow is bent. In some cases, it may be harder to move your fingers in and out, or to manipulate objects.
- Numbness and tingling in the ring finger and little finger are common symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment. Often, these symptoms come and go. They happen more often when the elbow is bent, such as when driving or holding the phone. Some people wake up at night because their fingers are numb.
- Weakening of the grip and difficulty with finger coordination (such as typing or playing an instrument) may occur. These symptoms are usually seen in more severe cases of nerve compression.
- If the nerve is very compressed or has been compressed for a long time, muscle wasting in the hand can occur. Once this happens, muscle wasting cannot be reversed.
If you have suffered an ulnar nerve injury or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia,” or call our office today (804) 755-7755.