Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?


Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is also known as ulnar nerve entrapment. It’s the second most common nerve entrapment after carpal tunnel syndrome. The ulnar nerve can be trapped in a few different places around the elbow as it travels down the arm into the forearm.  

Cubital Tunnel

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

  • Tingling in the ring finger and baby finger
  • Numbness on hand near the baby finger
  • Keeping your elbow bent for long periods of time will cause aches and pain on the “funny bone” side of the elbow along with numbness and tingling of the baby finger and ring finger
  • Straightening the elbow will help reduce the pain, numbness and tingling.
  • In advanced cases muscle wasting can occur in the hand. This is can improve but usually some symptoms of weakness will likely remain.


Diagnosis of Cubital tunnel is made by first ruling out the neck and shoulder area. Nerves that are trapped in the neck and shoulder can mimic ulnar nerve entrapment or cubital tunnel syndrome.

After ruling out cubital tunnel syndrome there are four area of the elbow region that can cause the ulnar nerve to be trapped. Technically you don’t call all of them cubital tunnel syndrome but the result is the same numbness, tingling and pain as it’s still the same nerve.

Your health pracitioner should look at the all four areas to determine if there is an entrapment there. (At the end of the article are the details of the 4 areas the ulnar nerve can be trapped.)



Try to keep the elbow straight. If you keep your elbow bent and lean on your elbow while driving or sitting at your desk, stop the urge, change your habit and keep your elbow straighter. 

Ulnar nerve entrapment is not a serious condition as long as there is no muscle wasting.

Wearing an elbow brace during the day and especially at night may help keep the elbow straight and prevent you from irritating your nerve. 

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For Health Pracitioners Only

Four Places where the Ulnar Nerve can be entrapped.

  1. About half way down the arm the ulnar nerve pierces the fascia-like intermuscular septum. The ulnar nerve can be trapped at the intermuscular septum. This is technically not cubital tunnel syndrome but should be checked for.
  2. Arcade of Struthers is a fascia found in 70% of people about 8-10 cm above the elbow. The ulnar nerve can be trapped at the Arcade of Struthers.
  3. Cubital tunnel is found at the elbow and creates a tunnel for the ulnar nerve with bones on either side and the Osborne Fascia above forming the roof of the tunnel. The ulnar nerve can be trapped inside the cubital tunnel.
  4. Flexor Carpi ulnaris muscle. The ulnar passess between the two heads of the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle where it can be trapped.





Dr Ken Nakamura

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