The cubital tunnel is a passageway that allows the ulnar nerve to travel around the elbow. A protuberance of bone at the inner section of the elbow (known as the medial epicondyle) sits above where the ulnar nerve passes. At this site, the nerve lies directly next to the bone and is vulnerable to pressure. Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when there is increased pressure on the ulnar nerve in the cubital tunnel. The syndrome manifests itself as numbness, tingling and pain in the elbow, forearm, hand and/or fingers (usually the ring and little finger).
Conservative treatment for cubital tunnel includes splinting, physiotherapy and rest. In more severe cases, where physiotherapy has not provided relief, surgery may release the pressure on the ulnar nerve. The surgeon may move the nerve to the front of the elbow, or place the nerve under a layer of fat to relieve pressure and tension on the nerve.
Surgery is performed under general anaesthesia, and as Day Surgery. It is essential that you have a responsible adult to drive you to and from the hospital, as well as stay with you for the first 24 hours after your operation. A thick bandage will be placed around your elbow to limit full bending of the elbow. Your wound and sutures will be reviewed at one week, after which time there will be no restrictions in movement. Heavy lifting and repetitive movements must be avoided for a minimum of 6 weeks after your procedure.
The results of the surgery may occur quickly, or may take a few months for hand and wrist strength to improve. General the symptoms do resolve themselves after surgery. However in some extreme cases, some slight tingling and numbness may remain.
(Some information is courtesy of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand)