Nerve entrapment occurs when a nerve has to travel between two bones or on occasions when a nerve travels through muscle spasm or near tight ligaments. This commonly happens in the elbow when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed or irritated. The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves in your arm. It travels from your neck down into your hand. It can be trapped behind the elbow and this pressure on the nerve can cause numbness or pain in your elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers.
The symptoms associated with ulnar nerve compression may develop suddenly or gradually over a period of time. Symptoms may include an ache or pain at the back or inner aspect of the elbow and forearm, pins and needles, numbness or a burning sensation may also be present in a similar area or into the palm on the little finger side of the hand, the little finger and half of the ring finger. Tenderness and an increase in symptoms may be experienced when firmly pressing or tapping the nerve at the inner aspect of the elbow. Occasionally, in more severe cases, weakness of the hand and fingers may also be present.
Treatment for Elbow Nerve Entrapment
Physiotherapy treatment for patients with this condition is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and decrease the likelihood of injury recurrence. Treatment may comprise:
- Joint mobilisation/lateral glide mobilisation
- Joint manipulation
- Deep tissue massage/myofascial release
- Dry needling /acupuncture
- Activity modification advice
- Ergonomic and sleeping advice
- Exercise programs
- Brace/Splinting advise
- Neural Mobilisation
- Ice or heat treatment