Do you know what cubital tunnel syndrome is?
That was the question my doctor asked me when I visited the hospital. Well, firstly let’s start with how I got it. I was on a one week vacation leave and was on the computer playing some games. My computer chair was basically a one seater sofa with wooden armrests. This sofa was the bane of all my problems. So what happened was that I was rested on my left elbow for far too long that caused my ulnar nerve to be compressed. This resulted in my left pinkie and the half of the ring finger to have a numb and tingling sensation. The diagram below shows the ulnar nerve, the picture on the left shows the nerve for the left arm while the picture on the right is the right arm.
I have been living with this for about nine months I’ve tried everything to try to remedy it. Some people swear by the spikey massage ball as shown below. What they claim it does is to loosen up the muscles and tendons that compressed the ulnar nerve. However it is not a 100% cure and unfortunately for me it does not work. I have tried all sorts of massages to try to release the nerve but they do not work.
Cubital tunnel syndrome sufferers sometimes go through months or maybe years of not treating it. However, if you are suffering from one cubital tunnel syndrome, do take note that the muscle in your hand can atrophy, meaning it can waste away. Eventually your pinkie and ring finger will end up in a curled state as shown below.
The first time I met my doctor, he prescribed me 3 months worth of vitamin B6 capsules and to go for a nerve conduction test after that. Vitamin B6 is said to be able to remedy problems with the nerve system. Unfortunately for me, it did not work. After those 3 months, I went for my nerve conduction test. Below is a Youtube video showing what the test is all about
Two weeks after the test, I met with my doctor again and he said the nerve conduction did show some problem with the nerve and I had two options. One was to continue to run tests and the other was to go for an operation called cubital nerve transposition. This operation releases the nerve from the cubital tunnel and transposes (moves) it to another location so that it is no longer compressed. Below is a Youtube video showing the operation. Warning, it is graphic.
Of course, with any surgery, comes the risk of complications. There’s a small chance my left elbow area will have some numbness, another small chance that after the operation, the numbness may not go away after all. However after thinking it through for quite a long time, I told him I would go ahead with the operation. After close to 9 months of suffering from cubital tunnel syndrome, I decided that enough was enough.
What about carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is another beast altogether and it affects the thumb, index finger and middle finger. Those who suffer from cubital tunnel syndrome are often accompanied by carpal tunnel syndrome as well. I am extremely lucky not to have carpal tunnel as the operation to release the median nerve is in the base of the palm or wrist area.
How to I prevent cubital and carpal tunnel syndrome?
You will need to get a chair with really good cushioned armrests, not metal or wooden types. Also, if you are sitting for long periods of time, be sure to check you have sensations of tingling in your arms, that’s a sign the nerves are compressed. Stand up and shake your arms around, do some stretching exercises. Change your chair if you have to, I have since changed my chair to a DXRacer series with adjustable armrests. Try the spikey massage ball, if all else does not work, then surgery may be the last resort. I am due for my surgery on the 16th of December 2016, 7am. Yes, one day after the release of “Star Wars Rogue One”