The ulnar nerve runs down the inside of the elbow. If you knock the inside of the elbow, you can hit the ulnar nerve (or funny bone) which causes a numbness or tingling down the forearm into the fourth and fifth fingers. When this nerve becomes trapped or damaged through repetitive strain or a direct impact, it creates this sensation and can cause elbow pain.
- Pain on the inside/back of the elbow.
- Tingling or numbness in the ring finger and little finger and possibly along the inside of the forearm.
- Pain which increases and radiates to the outer two fingers of the hand.
- Reproduction of symptoms whilst tapping over the ulnar groove on the inside of the elbow (between the bone at the back of the elbow and the one just to the inside of this)
What is the Ulnar Nerve?
The ulnar nerve runs down the inside of the elbow. If you knock the inside of the elbow you can get a numbness or buzzing down the forearm into the fourth and fifth fingers (hitting your funny bone). It is the ulnar nerve that is being hit when this happens.
The ulnar nerve can become entrapped, compressed or damaged for several reasons, including traction injuries (common in throwers), progressive compression due to inflammation and adhesions caused by repetitive strain, direct trauma and bony growths in the ulnar groove.
The symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment are similar to that of golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis).
What can you do?
- Rest the arm.
- Apply cold therapy.
What can a doctor do?
- Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication
- Immobilize the arm for a short period.
- Use soft tissue therapy to break down adhesions that may be restricting the nerve.
- Demonstrate neural stretching exercises.
- Operate in severe or persistent cases.