Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Now that another Boston winter is over and the tulips and daffodils have given us a return to sanity, if you’re an obsessed golfer, you’ve probably already been out playing or at least hitting balls. If you’ve hit a lot of balls, the inside of your elbow may be really tender and your ring finger and pinky tingles.

Sounds like ulnar nerve entrapment. But it’s more fun to call it golfer’s elbow.

Dr. Desio helps patients ease the inflammation of ulnar nerve entrapment at his Worcester sports medicine practice.

What Nerves Are in the Arm?

Our arms have three main nerves — the median nerve, the radial nerve, and the ulnar nerve.

  • The median nerve passes down the inside of the arm and crosses the front of the elbow. At the wrist the median nerve goes through a “tunnel,” the carpal tunnel. The median nerve supplies muscles that help bend the wrist and the fingers, and it is the main nerve of the thumb.
  • The radial nerve passes down the back and outside of the upper arm. The radial nerve supplies muscles used to straighten the elbow, and to lift and straighten the wrist, thumb, and fingers. It supplies felling to the skin on the outside of the thumb, the back of the hand, and the index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger.
  • The ulnar nerve passes down the inside of the arm, like the median nerve, with one big difference. Where the median nerve stays on the inside of all the bones, the ulnar nerve passes behind the elbow, where it lies in a groove between two bony points on the back and inner side of the elbow. The ulnar nerve supplies muscles that help bend the wrist and fingers. It provides feeling in the skin of the outer part of the hand, including the little finger and the outer half of the back of the hand, palm, and ring finger.

The Problem

It’s the narrow space where the ulnar nerve travels behind the elbow that’s the problem. When the elbow is bent, the ulnar nerve must stretch around a bony ridge, and this can irritate the nerve. Also, the nerve can slide out from behind the medial epicondyle when the elbow is bent. If this is done repeatedly, such as in certain golf movements, the nerve becomes irritated.

The result is pain and tingling in the pinky and ring finger, along with elbow weakness and pain.

Dr. Desio helps patients understand the problem and works to calm the ulnar nerve inflammation.

If you have signs of ulnar nerve entrapment, please call us at Desio Sports Medicine, (508) 363-6363, to schedule an appointment.

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123 Summer St.
Suite 520
Worcester, MA 01608

Tel: 508.363.6363

123 Summer St. Suite 520, Worcester, MA 01608 508.363.6363