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Exercise Guide for Cubital Tunnel Sydrome

Cubital Tunnel Cubital tunnel syndrome is the second most common nerve compression occurring in the arm. (Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common.) It is a condition caused by increased pressure on the ulnar nerve at the elbow. This pressure can result in discomfort and pain and may progress to loss of function of the hand. Cubital tunnel syndrome generally affects men more than women and those with jobs that require repetitive elbow movements and a bent elbow position, such as using tools like drills at work, talking on the phone, doing computer work, painting, or playing an instrument. Physical therapists help people with cubital tunnel syndrome to reduce pain and swelling and restore normal movement and function to the arm, wrist, and hand. The ulnar nerve extends from the neck down the back of the arm to the hand. In the inner aspect of the elbow, it runs along a small passageway called the cubital tunnel.

Signs and Symptoms
Cubital tunnel syndrome can occur after a traumatic incident, such as an elbow fracture, or develop slowly over time. It usually begins with numbness and/or tingling or burning on the inside of the forearm extending down into the hand.

Typical symptoms include:
• Intermittent pain, numbness, and tingling brought on by sustained bending of the elbow
• Tenderness on the inside of the elbow where the nerve is close to the surface Later symptoms sometimes include:
• Difficulty gripping and holding on to objects
• Muscle wasting of the small muscles of the hand
• A hand deformity in which the small and ring fingers bend inward, referred to as an "ulnar claw hand"

We all know that finding the best exercises and learning all about the condition can take a lot of time and practice, so we have formed a few exercises to help you treat your condition at home. None of these exercises require any special equipment, and all you need is 15 minutes a day.

Elbow Flexion and Wrist Extension
Time required: 3 minutes
Sit tall on a chair and reach the affected arm out to the side, level with your shoulder, while your hand is facing the floor. Now turn your fingers toward the ceiling, then bend the arm and bring it toward the shoulder. Slowly repeat 5 times.

Arm Flexion in Front of the Body
Time required: 3 to 6 minutes
Sit tall on a chair and reach the affected arm straight out in front of you with the elbow straight and level with the shoulders. With your palm facing the ceiling, bend the wrist down to point your fingers toward the floor. Now bend the elbow and bring your wrist toward the face. Slowly repeat 5 times to 10 times.

The Head Tilt
Time required: 3 minutes
Sit tall on a chair and reach the affected arm out to the side with the elbow straight and level with the shoulder. Make sure your hand is facing the ceiling. Tilt your head away from your hand until you feel a pleasant stretch. Return to the starting position and slowly repeat 5 times.

A-OK
Time required: 3 minutes
Sit tall on a chair and reach the affected arm out to the side with the elbow straight and level with the shoulder. Make sure your hand is facing the ceiling. Join your thumb and index finger in a circle, to make the OK sign. Now bend your elbow and bring the hand toward the face, wrapping the remaining three fingers around the ear and jaw, and placing the OK sign over your eye. Hold the position for 3 seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat the exercise 5 times. Perform these exercises with slow, controlled motion. Stop if you experience pain.

For best results, stretch your arms several times a day and practice slow, deep breathing. Consider wrapping a towel around your elbow to keep it straight while you sleep, advises the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Always contact your doctor for advice and treatment.

Elbow Supports For most cases of cubital tunnel syndrome, a doctor will prescribe a splint or padded elbow brace for you to wear at night. The elbow is one of the most difficult joints to rest when injured as it can be difficult to keep it straight, particularly at night whilst sleeping. Elbow supports are designed to gently immobilise the elbow by preventing sudden movements which can cause pain during the night. View our range of elbow supports here