The ulnar nerve is the structure which runs behind the bony prominence on the medial (inside) of the elbow.
At the point where it runs around the elbow, it is contained in a tight tunnel. It is quite easy to feel and is the tissue which is injured when we hit our “funny bone”. Because it is in a tight tunnel and is readily injured by simply bumping the area, scar forms around the nerve and constricts it so this results in compression.
The symptoms of ulnar nerve compression are pain in the elbow and paraesthesiae (pins and needles) felt in the little finger and part of the ring finger. In more long-standing cases, weakness of some finger and thumb movements occurs and there may be loss of bulk in the small muscles in the hand.
The condition can commonly be diagnosed by clinical examination only but if there are doubts, nerve conductions studies are performed by a neurologist who can determine the site of possible compression.
If the nerve is compressed the only treatment which will fix the problem in the long term is ulnar nerve neurolysis.