Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the elbow’s ulnar nerve becomes compressed or irritated. The area of the elbow’s ulnar nerve is often referred to as the “funny bone.” Ulnar nerve compression at the elbow could cause numbness or tingling in the hand and/or fingers.

While this condition is less common in children and teens, it does occur and can lead to complications in motor skill development. Left untreated, cubital tunnel syndrome can also lead to muscle wasting in the hand.

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What are the signs and symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome?

  • Numbness and tingling (especially in the ring and little fingers)
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Weakened grip
  • Poor finger coordination

Please note that symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome may resemble other conditions. It is important your child sees their provider for a diagnosis.

What causes cubital tunnel syndrome?

The exact cause of cubital tunnel syndrome is unknown, but there are several contributing factors:

  • Keeping the elbow bent for long periods
  • Leaning on the elbow for long periods
  • Bending the elbow often
  • A direct blow or injury to the elbow
  • Fluid buildup in the affected area

How is cubital tunnel syndrome diagnosed?

  • Physical exam
  • Additional diagnostic testing if necessary:
    • Nerve conduction test
    • Electromyogram (EMG) test
    • X-rays

How is cubital tunnel syndrome treated?

Treatment depends on the extent of your child’s condition. There are several non-surgical options to treat cubital tunnel syndrome:

  • I.C.E. – Rest, ice, compression and elevation
  • Activity modification or restriction
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (e.g., ibuprofen)
  • Splint or brace
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections

Surgery is only necessary in more severe cases if other treatments are ineffective. Doctors at Connecticut Children’s can determine the right plan to treat your child’s cubital tunnel syndrome.