Compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow is a common occurrence and results in numbness in the little and part of the ring finger.
When the symptoms result in chronic numbness in the fingers or wake you at night it is likely that the compression of the nerve is causing permanent damage to the nerve. It is important to relieve the compression to protect the nerve.
No specific preparations are required for this operation.
An incision is made on the medial side of your elbow and the nerve is immediately identified. It is carefully dissected free of the various attachment is has in its canal. These attachments may be contracted by scar tissue causing the compression. The nerve is dissected free under magnification above and below the elbow to relieve all compression. It is then stabilized in its canal so it can’t slip forward with elbow flexion.
A light dressing is applied and remains untouched until your first post-operative visit about ten days after the operation when the sutures are removed. You can gently mobilize your elbow as pain permits. It is best to avoid vigorous activity for about a month to six weeks to enable the nerve to settle.
All operation can have complications and this is no exception. The most common complication is post-operative pain which is generally short lived. The next most common problems are wound infection, DVT, and damage to the nerve may result from manipulating the nerve but the dissection is designed to protect it at all times. This is a very safe operation.
By the time you decide to have surgery, it is likely you will have had quite a few different treatments for you elbow pain and hand numbness all of which by now will have not been helpful. Surgery is recommended for those elbows which do not respond to non-operative treatment.