Persistent ulnar neuritis, cubital tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow...that chronic ache along the inner aspect of the elbow with associated clumsiness and weakness and numbness of the small finger side of the hand can be quite debilitating and potentially disabling if left undetected or untreated. In its early stages, it can often be treated with conservative measures, including sleeping with the elbow straight with or without a brace. Occupational or physical therapy may be helpful. Anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., ibuprofen) may be helpful. Electrodiagnostic studies may or may not show positive findings (such as a conduction block of the ulnar nerve across the elbow). However, if symptoms persist beyond 3-6 months or are severe enough (either clinically or based on electrodiagnostic studies) to warrant more immediate surgical decompression of the ulnar nerve across the elbow, then this will be offered by your upper extremity orthopedic surgeon.
Dr. Downing offers endoscopic (camera-assisted) in situ ulnar nerve decompression across the elbow ("cubital tunnel release"). This is a minimally invasive technique (with an incision of 2-3 centimeters (~1 inch) as opposed to a formal more invasive open cubital tunnel release (8-16 centimeters; ~3-6 inches). The endoscopic approach lends itself to a smaller scar (of the skin), less deep scarring, less medial antebrachial cutaneous nerve injury/irritation, less ulnar nerve dissection with protection of extrinsic ulnar nerve vascularity and quicker easier postop rehab. A waterproof dressing is used over the surgical site. The patient is not activity restricted--pain/discomfort guide the patient's recovery.