Ulnar Nerve Release

Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed. When this happens, the nerve does not function normally.

Surgical Treatment

If the nerve is very compressed or if there is muscle wasting, the doctor may recommend surgery to take pressure off of the nerve.

Most often, the surgery is done around the elbow, but it can be done at the wrist, if that is the place of the compression. Sometimes, the nerve is compressed in both places, so surgery is done at both the elbow and the wrist.

Surgeons use various ways to relieve compression from the nerve around the elbow. All of the operations involve making an incision around the elbow.

In one operation, only the ” roof ” is taken off of the cubital tunnel. This tends to work best when the nerve compression is mild.

More commonly, the nerve is moved from its place behind the elbow to a new place in front of the elbow. This is called an anterior transposition of the ulnar nerve. The nerve can be moved to lie under the skin and fat but on top of the muscle (subcutaneous transposition), within the muscle (intermuscular transposition) or under the muscle (submuscular transposition). There are many factors that go into deciding where the nerve is moved. The doctor will recommend the best option for you.

If the nerve is compressed at the wrist, a zigzag incision will be made at the base of the palm on the little finger side of the hand. The surgeon will open the roof of Guyon’s canal to take the pressure off the ulnar nerve. If there is a cyst or another reason for the compression, the surgeon will remove that at the same time.

The surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis or with an overnight stay in the hospital. Depending on the type of surgery, you may need to wear a splint for a few weeks after the operation. A submuscular transposition usually requires a longer time (three to six weeks) in a splint.

The surgeon may recommend physical therapy to help regain strength and motion in the arm.

The results of the surgery are generally good. If the nerve is very badly compressed or if there is muscle wasting, the nerve may not be able to return to normal and some symptoms may remain even after the surgery. Nerves recover slowly, and it can take a long time to know how well the nerve will do after surgery.

Conditions Treated By Scoliosis Surgery

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Symptoms Treated By Scoliosis Surgery

Aching pain inside of elbow
Numbness in ring and little finger
Tingling in ring and little finger
Weakening of grip

Service Providers

Henry Small, M.D.

Dr. Small is a board certified orthopedic surgeon. He has 23 years of experience.