Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome of the Wrist happens when the ulnar nerve that is located in the wrist gets compressed. The main function of the ulnar nerve is to innervate in the forearm and the hand and it travels from our neck all the down to the forearm and finally the hands. As a result, it can be compressed in multiple places during. When pressure starts to build up, it can impinge onto the nerve and result in numbness.
There are many possible causes of ulnar tunnel syndrome. Most of the reasons are due to medical conditions:
- Constricted fascial bands. This happens when the fascial bands connective tissues surrounding muscles and nerves get constricted and presses onto the ulnar nerve as a result.
- Cubitus valgus. Patients suffering from Cubitus valgus have a deformation in their forearm. The forearm is angled away from the body and this will cause large pressures building up at the site of the nerves.
- Tumours. Tumours are groups of abnormal cells that form lumps or growth and this excess weight will bear down and impinge onto the nerves.
Other non-medical conditions can cause ulnar tunnel syndrome as well. Simple actions such as leaning onto the wrist habitually can cause compression of the wrist, causing the bones to press onto the nerves.
Treatment and management of ulnar tunnel consist of a non-surgical as well as a surgical component. Initially, non-surgical options will be recommended to patients. These include physiotherapy, immobilisation of the wrist and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). For example, if the cause of this is due to repeated actions such as hammering a nail, the patient will need to stop such action immediately or use alternative methods in order to minimize this trauma. Immobilising the wrist and using a wrist splint will also hold the wrist in place, allowing the area to heal on its own. NSAID on the other hand will help to reduce inflammation.
If the above methods does not work, the patient will be sent for x-ray diagnostics and MRI scanning. Most often, patients with a growth such as a tumour will need to undergo surgical treatment to remove the cysts. Once the growth is removed, there will no longer be anymore nerve impingement and sensation will start to slowly return.
Ulnar tunnel syndrome is a treatable medical condition and patients should seek immediate medical attention before the nerves get damaged.