How do I relieve ulnar nerve pain?

An elbow splint may be helpful in relieving ulnar nerve pain.

The ulnar nerve is located behind the humerus at the elbow. Hitting the nerve causes a tingling sensation, and people often refer to this as hitting the funny bone. Ulnar nerve pain can be relieved by taking an anti-inflammatory, attending physical therapy sessions, or wearing a brace. Surgical treatments are recommended only if there is severe pain or muscle atrophy. Often, ulnar nerve dysfunction will heal on its own, as long as the person stops using the elbow in the way that caused the injury.

Anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce ulnar nerve swelling.

Many people with ulnar nerve pain have difficulty moving their fingers or may experience a tingling and painful sensation when moving their fingers. This could be the result of inflammation that causes the nerve to be compressed. Many doctors recommend taking an anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling. The person may be prescribed corticosteroid injections, but this is rare as there is a risk that the injection could cause more damage to the nerve.

An x-ray of the elbow may be performed to determine the reason for the ulnar nerve pain.

Physical therapy is a common way to treat this type of nerve pain. Typically, nerve glide, strengthening, and loosening exercises are suggested. The physical therapist may also suggest lifestyle changes, such as sleeping with your arm straight through the night or avoiding leaning or resting your elbow on the arm of a chair for long periods. There are braces and homemade splints that can be used to keep the arm straight for long periods of time to prevent further injury.

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A CT scan may be performed to determine the cause of the ulnar nerve pain.

Surgery is performed to relieve pressure from an injury that has caused compression of the ulnar nerve. Muscle wasting, hand or arm numbness, or extreme pain may indicate that surgery is needed to heal the injury. Pressure-relieving procedures usually require the surgeon to move the nerve to another location in the arm. If compression has occurred at the wrist, a procedure to relieve pressure will be performed.

Ulnar nerve pain can be caused by injuries to the spine.

Ulnar nerve pain can be caused by spinal injuries, elbow or wrist fractures, cubital tunnel diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis. The ulnar nerve can also be compressed in a part of the wrist called Gunyon’s canal, or a cyst or bone spur can cause the nerve to compress. The doctor can usually easily diagnose ulnar nerve dysfunction if there is tingling, numbness, pain, or weakness in the 4th and 5th fingers. A nerve conduction test, X-ray, blood test, or computed tomography (CT) scan will be performed to determine the cause and location of the compression. It is best to consult a doctor to create a treatment plan for ulnar nerve pain.

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