Cubital Tunnel Syndrome


Cubital tunnel syndrome is a common nerve compression condition that affects the ulnar nerve as it passes through the cubital tunnel, located on the inner side of the elbow. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the intricacies of cubital tunnel syndrome, exploring its causes, symptoms, diagnostic methods, and a range of treatment options. Whether you're experiencing elbow discomfort or seeking information for a loved one, understanding these aspects can facilitate informed decision-making and effective management of this condition.

What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve, which runs from the neck to the hand, becomes compressed or irritated at the elbow, leading to symptoms such as pain, numbness, and weakness in the hand and fingers. The cubital tunnel, formed by the bones, ligaments, and muscles around the elbow, serves as a passageway for the ulnar nerve. When this tunnel becomes narrowed or compressed due to various factors, it can impede nerve function and result in cubital tunnel syndrome.

Causes of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Several factors can contribute to the development of cubital tunnel syndrome. These include prolonged or repetitive elbow flexion, direct trauma to the elbow, abnormal anatomy of the cubital tunnel, such as bone spurs or cysts, and medical conditions like arthritis or diabetes. Additionally, activities that involve prolonged pressure on the ulnar nerve, such as leaning on the elbows for extended periods, can increase the risk of developing cubital tunnel syndrome.

Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

The hallmark symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and fingers, particularly the ring and little fingers. Individuals may experience worsening symptoms during activities that involve bending the elbow, such as typing, driving, or sleeping with the elbow bent. In severe cases, muscle wasting and loss of grip strength may occur if the condition is left untreated.

Investigations for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Diagnosing cubital tunnel syndrome typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional, including a review of symptoms, a physical examination, and possibly nerve conduction studies (NCS) or electromyography (EMG) to assess nerve function and identify the site of compression. Imaging studies such as X-rays or MRI may also be performed to evaluate the anatomy of the elbow and rule out other potential causes of nerve compression.

Treatment Options for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome:

Treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome aims to alleviate symptoms, reduce nerve compression, and improve hand function. Non-surgical approaches may include activity modification, wearing a splint or brace to keep the elbow straight at night, and avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms. Physical therapy exercises can help improve elbow mobility and strengthen muscles around the elbow to alleviate pressure on the ulnar nerve.

When do I need surgery for cubital tunnel syndrome?

In cases where conservative measures fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered. Surgical options for cubital tunnel syndrome include cubital tunnel release, where the roof of the cubital tunnel is opened to decompress the ulnar nerve, and medial epicondylectomy, where the bony prominence of the elbow is removed to create more space for the nerve. The choice of surgical technique depends on the severity of symptoms, underlying anatomy, and individual patient factors.


Cubital tunnel syndrome is a debilitating condition that can significantly impact hand function and quality of life. By understanding the underlying causes, recognizing typical symptoms, and exploring available treatment options, individuals can take proactive steps towards managing this condition effectively. Whether opting for conservative measures or surgical intervention, seeking timely medical evaluation and guidance is crucial for achieving optimal outcomes and restoring hand function and mobility.

Driven by compassion, decades of experience in orthopaedic care, and modern technology, we strive to provide patient-centric care by alleviating pain, restoring mobility, and improving the quality of life for all our patients. At Orthopaedic and Hand Surgery Partners, where compassion meets experience, you can trust in us. 

© Orthopaedic and Hand Surgery Partners. All Rights Reserved.

6A Napier Road #03-37
Gleneagles Annexe Block
Singapore 258500

Monday to Friday: 0900 - 1730hrs
Saturday: 0900 - 1230hrs
Closed on Sunday & Public Holidays

820 Thomson Road #06-08
Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A
Singapore 574623

Monday to Friday: 0900 - 1730hrs
Closed on Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays