Ulnar nerve dysfunction (forearm/pinky numbness)

Ulnar nerve physical therapy treatment

The above picture is from the website:  www.mdguidelines.com

The below image is from www.netterimages.com – This site has excellent images for anatomy. Netter the artist is really the gold standard artist for anatomy.

Above is a picture of the ulnar nerve and the distribution of numbness or tingling (the blue colored region) that can appear when there is an insult to the area.

The ulnar nerve can be injured in a variety of ways. The most common ways to injure it are:

  1. Keeping the elbow bent at night
  2. Keeping the elbow bent and elbow on a desk too often
  3. Keeping the elbow bent and placing head on hand and laying down watching TV
  4. Having consistent pressure on the outside of the wrist while riding a bicycle
  5. Pressure on outside of wrist using computer mouse

The problem of tingling or numbness into the 4th and 5th digit can originate from several sources (it usually is due to lack of oxygen/pressure/ or overstretch on the nerves)

  1. Cervical spine/neck C8 nerve root
  2. Cubital tunnel area- the funny bone region
  3. Guyan’s tunnel at the base of the wrist on the outside region


The best treatments from my personal experience with this injury, with patients that have had this injury, and according to the research article below is shown below:


  1. Bending elbow at night
  2. Pressure on elbow on desk
  3. Pressure on elbow lying down watching TV with head on hand
  4. Pressure on outside of wrist with bicycling
  5. Pressure on outside of wrist with using mouse
  6. Performing benchpress and triceps exercises at gym- it can irritate the ulnar nerve in the elbow region (it may snap in and out of the cubital tunnel and irritate your symptoms)


Use an elbow pad/brace for continued straight arm positioning


This brace /pad usually costs about 35$. You use it at night and through the day for about 2 weeks. You should experience less tingling in the 4th and 5th digit within 2 to 3 days.

J Hand Surg Am. 2013 Jun;38(6):1125-1130.e1.  May 3.Outcomes of rigid night splinting and activity modification in the treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome.Shah CM1, Calfee RP, Gelberman RH, Goldfarb CA.
The conclusion of this journal article showed that splinting and activity modification was successful in alleviating symptoms associated with cubital tunnel syndrome.




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