Graphic of ulnar nerves

The orthopedic experts at Capital Surgical Associates are familiar with how debilitating ulnar nerve compression can be, and can offer real, effective treatment and surgical options.

What Does Ulnar Nerve Compression Feel Like?

If you're experiencing ulnar nerve compression, called Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, you may notice pain, numbness, and tingling sensations along the inner (medial) forearm with the most prominent numbness in the small and ring fingers of the hand. In some cases, individuals may also feel movement or instability of the nerve at the area of the elbow as it shifts out of its groove behind the inner elbow.

In most cases, individuals with initial symptoms can visit their primary doctor. Alternatively, you may directly schedule an appointment with Dr. Applonie if preferred. Electromyography (EMG) may be recommended as part of the diagnostic process. Dr. Applonie will combine the findings from the EMG and your physical examination to determine the appropriate surgical intervention required to alleviate your symptoms.

Types of Ulnar Nerve Decompression Procedures by Dr. Applonie

Regarding ulnar nerve compression at the elbow, Dr. Applonie may perform different types of ulnar nerve decompression surgeries based on each patient's specific needs. These procedures aim to relieve the compression and restore proper nerve function, alleviating the associated symptoms.

In Situ Ulnar Nerve Decompression

If the examination and EMG results indicate that the ulnar nerve is compressed around the elbow, an In Situ Ulnar Nerve Decompression surgery can remove the connective tissue compressing the nerve.

Ulnar Nerve Decompression with Anterior Transposition

An Ulnar Nerve Decompression with Anterior Transposition may be recommended if patients exhibit excessive nerve movement during the decompression. This procedure involves repositioning the nerve anteriorly and placing it in a pocket within the fat under the skin.

person pinching their ulnar nerve

Ulnar Nerve Decompression Surgery Recovery Tips from Dr. Applonie

After undergoing ulnar nerve decompression surgery, it is important to follow certain guidelines to ensure a smooth recovery. Here are some helpful tips from Dr. Applonie to support your healing process:

  1. Post-Surgery Restrictions: Following the surgery, your elbow will be placed in a splint for approximately seven days. This helps protect and stabilize the surgical site during the initial healing phase.
  2. Active Motion and Weight Bearing: Once the splint is removed, you will gradually begin functional motion exercises for your arm, along with gentle weight bearing and lifting. These activities should be performed under your surgeon's guidance to ensure proper healing.
  3. Pain Management: Dr. Applonie may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and provide basic pain medication to manage any discomfort you may experience after surgery.
  4. Icing for Pain Relief: To help manage postoperative pain, it is advised to apply ice to the elbow for 20 minutes every three hours during the first 3-5 days after surgery. An ice machine or cryo cuff can provide additional benefits for most patients.
  5. Physical Therapy: In most cases, formal physical therapy is not required for ulnar nerve decompression surgery. However, Dr. Applonie will provide specific instructions for at-home exercises and activities to aid recovery.
  6. Return to Activities: After the first two weeks, you will be cleared to resume all activities as tolerated gradually. However, listening to your body and not pushing yourself beyond your comfort level is important.
  7. Follow-up Appointments: Regular follow-up appointments are essential to your recovery process. Typically, you will have a follow-up visit two weeks after surgery and another at six weeks to monitor your progress and address any concerns.
  8. Recovery Timeline: While individual recovery times may vary, most individuals can expect to return to all activities within about four weeks. However, the recovery of the ulnar nerve and restoration of its normal sensation can take up to 3-6 months, depending on the initial severity of the compression as determined by the EMG results.
  9. Workers' Compensation: If your ulnar nerve compression is related to a work injury, please bring your workers' compensation paperwork to your appointment with Dr. Applonie.

Seeing Orthopedic Specialists at Capital Surgical Associates

Our orthopedic specialists, Dr. Hessing, and Dr. Applonie, and , are here to help if you are in pain from an injury or dealing with a chronic condition.

Dr. Jeffrey Hessing, Shoulder Surgery Surgeon in Boise, Idaho
Dr. Ryan Applonie, Orthopedic Shoulder Surgeon in Boise, Idaho