Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

I am in rehab with an occupational therapist to help my elbow pain. I have a pinched nerve along the inside of my elbow going down my forearm. The doctor mentioned surgery as a possible option if rehab doesn't work. Just what kind of operation can be done?

Answer:

You may have a condition called cubital tunnel syndrome. The cubital tunnel is a shallow groove in the bone alongside the inner elbow. The ulnar nerve lies inside this tunnel. Pressure on the nerve for any reason at this site can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle atrophy with loss of strength.

Cubital tunnel syndrome can be caused by many different things. For example, bone spurs, tumors or cysts, and bands of fascia or connective tissue can put pressure on the nerve. Surgical treatment depends on the underlying cause of the problem.

The surgeon may release any soft tissue constricting or pressing on the nerve. A piece of the bone may be removed to give the nerve more room in that area. This operation is called an epicondylectomy. Sometimes it's necessary to move the nerve away from the bone. This is called a nerve transposition.

Most often the final decision about which operation to perform is made at the time of the operation. Once the surgeon can see the condition of the nerve and the exact problem, then the best procedure can be carried out.

Dimitrios G. Efstathopoulos, MD, DSc, et al. Outcome of Partial Medial Epicondylectomy for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. March 2006. No. 444. Pp. 134-139.

*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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