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What Is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

Cubital tunnel syndrome is caused by increased pressure or stretching of the ulnar nerve at the elbow, also known as the “funny bone.” This condition is characterized by tingling or numbness in the ring and small fingers, pain in the forearm, and/or general weakness in the hand. These symptoms frequently happen during activities where the elbow is bent, such as talking on the phone or driving a car. Over time, this can make it difficult to grasp or pinch objects, make a tight fist, or do simple tasks like buttoning clothes. In later stages, patients may notice complete wasting of the small muscles in the hand. Fortunately, many symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome can be minimized or eliminated with treatments guided by our team of reconstructive hand surgeons in Long Island and New York City. The condition is often initially addressed with nonsurgical treatments, such as therapy and activity modification. No matter the severity of your symptoms, we aim to provide you with the expert care that can help you find relief and regain hand and finger function.

Signs & Symptoms

Cubital tunnel syndrome characteristically affects the ring finger and small finger (pinky), but symptoms can also extend to the hand, forearm, and elbow. Signs of the condition may include:

These symptoms can arise during certain movements, especially activities where the elbow is bent. The symptoms will initially come and go, but will eventually be felt at all times as the condition worsens. The diagnosis of cubital tunnel is clinical, based on your medical history and physical exam findings. Our reconstructive hand surgeons can examine your symptoms and utilize an array of approaches to determine the most effective course of treatment for your case.


The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves of the arm, supplying feeling to the ring and pinky fingers, as well as controlling the movement of the small muscles of the hand. The ulnar nerve is located close to the skin’s surface and runs behind the inner elbow in a tight compartment called the cubital tunnel. Certain stressors that impact this nerve over a long period of time can lead to cubital tunnel syndrome. In general, causes may include:


Many treatments may first involve refraining from the motions that are likely to cause symptoms. This may involve:

Recovery from surgery averages three to six weeks. Most patients are given a home exercise program and some will benefit from supervised hand therapy. At the Institute for Hand Surgery at New York Plastic Surgical Group, a Division of Long Island Plastic Surgical Group, we can develop a personalized treatment plan to determine the most beneficial course of action for your unique condition. While recovery may be gradual, our reconstructive hand surgeons can take the necessary steps to help you regain maximum function of the affected areas.

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