Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

I don't know if it's the way my body is put together or what but I keep hitting my funny bone and the bone hurts all the time but I think I also have some nerve damage starting to develop. What can be done about this?

Answer:

The first step is to see an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation of the problem. A baseline measurement of pinch and grip strength, range-of-motion of the elbow, forearm, and hand, and test of sensation would all be helpful to document changes over time. The ulnar nerve is close to the surface of the skin and most likely to be damaged due to direct injury. This is the nerve that causes pain when you hit your "funny bone" (the bony bump of the elbow closest to the body). Damage to this nerve often requires a procedure called nerve transposition. The surgeon has to move the nerve away from the bone where it is being bumped or compressed. Moving the nerve shortens it and relieves tension. It's possible that all you need is a minor procedure involving shaving the bone around the nerve. Treatment may actually begin with a more conservative approach using an elbow support or splint to protect the nerve. Other more extreme surgical measures are possible but less likely. For example, if the carrying angle of the elbow (the natural angle that's formed when your arm is down by your side) is part of the problem, the surgeon could do a procedure called an osteotomy. A small wedge-shaped piece of bone is removed from around your elbow. The remaining edges of bone are collapsed down toward each other. The goal is to change the carrying angle and make it less likely you'll bump the bone/nerve. Again, the surgeon is the best one to advise you. Make an appointment today and see what you can find out about your own particular problem and possible solutions. Good luck! Andrew R. Tyser and Kenneth R. Means, Jr, MD. Nerve Injuries About the Elbow: Treatment Options. In Current Orthopaedic Practice. January/February 2012. Vol. 23. No. 1. Pp. 29-33.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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