5 Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Exercises For Quick Pain Relief

Improve your flexibility and get rid of this syndrome with highly effective exercises.

Reviewed by Hannah Shine, AFA Certified Personal Trainer
Written by Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist
Edited by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health
Fact-checked by Himanshi Mahajan, BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

Cubital tunnel syndrome exercises help reduce elbow pain and inflammation. Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve at the elbow gets compressed and irritated. The ring finger, little finger, and forearm can become numb, and extreme pain is a typical symptom. It is the second most common peripheral nerve compression syndrome (1). Along with medical treatment, anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, splintingi  XAn appliance used to immobilize an injured part, support healing, and prevent further damage from occurring. , and surgery, doing exercise therapy can boost your recovery. Check out these 5 best and effective cubital tunnel syndrome exercises you can do at home.

But before that, here are a few facts about cubital tunnel syndrome you need to know. Scroll down!

protip_icon Workout Blueprint: Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Exercises
  • Frequency: Daily
  • Benefits: Improve mobility and provide pain relief.
  • Equipment Needed: Sturdy chair
  • Space Required: Small area
  • Assistance Required: No
  • Who Should Avoid: Anyone with severe pain and anyone who has undergone surgery.

How Does Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Occur?

Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve gets compressed or injured. The cubital tunnel is a small, 4 mm tunnel-like opening present in your elbow, between the muscles and bones. The ulnar nerve, which is responsible for movement and feeling in your hands, runs from your neck, shoulder, and arm, through the cubital tunnel to your ring finger and little finger.

According to Stanford Health Care, cubital tunnel syndrome (ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow) may occur when a person frequently bends the elbow or leans on the elbow (2).

protip_icon Quick Tip
Swelled up elbow joints, cystsi  XAn abnormal sac-like pocket of membranous tissue that contains fluid, air or other substances that sometimes cause pain. near elbow joints, and elbow arthritisi  XA disorder that causes inflammation or swelling of one or more joints, causing pain and stiffness that worsen with age. can cause the development of cubital tunnel syndrome. (3)
whereas, entrapment of the median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome.
Due to the narrow opening, injury, and repetitive movement of the arm, the ulnar nerve may get injured. This, in turn, causes pain, numbness, and a limited range of motion in your arm and fingers.

In this case, your doctor might recommend taking NSAIDsi  XNonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are a group of commonly prescribed drugs that help reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. , making your hand immobile by splinting, and regularly exercising your hand to improve flexibility and range of motion. Here are the exercises that work the best.

5 Cubital Tunnel Exercises To Relieve Pain

The exercises that you are going to do or learn about now are called Nerve Gliding Exercises, which offer pain relief in Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.

“Nerve gliding exercises can be highly beneficial for individuals seeking to improve the mobility of their hands and fingers by stretching the ulnar nerve,” says Personal Trainer Hannah Shine.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how these exercises are done.

1. Elbow Bend

How To Do

  1. Sit straight on a chair and extend the affected arm out to your side, with the palm facing the ceiling.
  2. Form a loose fist, flex your elbow, and bring your forearm close to your upper arm, and your fist close to your shoulder.
  3. Hold this pose for 2 seconds and release.

Sets And Reps

3 sets of 5 reps

2. Elbow Flexion And Wrist Extension

How To Do

  1. Sit straight on a chair with your affected arm extended out to the side at shoulder level, palm facing up.
  2. Flex your elbow and bring your arm close to your body, with your palm facing up.
  3. Extend your wrist by pulling your hand toward your shoulder.
  4. Hold this pose for 2 seconds and release.
  5. Do it slowly. Do not overextend your wrist if it aches.

Sets And Reps

2 sets of 5 reps

3. Head Tilt

How to Do

  1. Sit straight on a chair with your affected arm extended out to the side at shoulder level. Make sure your palm is facing up.
  2. Tilt your head away from your hand and feel the stretch.
  3. Gently extend your wrist by pulling your hand down, toward the floor. Tilt your head away and feel the stretch.
  4. Hold this pose for 3 seconds and release.

Sets And Reps

3 sets of 5 reps

4. A-OK

How To Do

  1. Sit straight on a chair with your affected arm extended out to the side at shoulder level, palm facing up.
  2. Make an OK sign by touching your index fingertip to the thumb.
  3. Flex your elbow, flip your hand, extend your wrist, and form an ‘o’ around your eye with the index finger and the thumb. Rest the other three fingers on your cheek and jaw.
  4. Hold this for 3 seconds and release.

Sets And Reps

2 sets of 5 reps

5. Arm Flexion In Front Of The Body

How To Do

  1. Sit straight with your arms extended in front of you. Your palms must face up, toward the ceiling.
  2. Extend your wrists by pointing your fingers down.
  3. Flex your elbows and bring your wrists close to your shoulders.
  4. Hold this pose for 3 seconds and release.

Sets And Reps

2 sets of 5 reps

By doing these exercises, slowly and gently, the pain will reduce, and the range of motion will increase. In addition to the above-mentioned exercises, hand therapy, wrist splint, and nerve flossing may help improve symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. Apart from exercises and medications, here are a few things that you can do at home for quick healing.

Tips For Healing Cubital Syndrome At Home

Image: Shutterstock

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeonsi  XThey are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. , there are some home remedies that help relieve symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. Avoiding leaning on your elbow, keeping your elbow straight when you are sleeping, and resting your elbow on the armrest while using the computer may help improve the symptoms (3).

  • Apply an ice pack five times a day. You can also make an ice wrap using ice cubes and a towel.
  • Wear an elbow pad.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Alternatives to an elbow pad can be wrapping the forearm with towel, cloth, or using a pillow to keep the elbow from bending.
  • Avoid wearing elbow support as it will compress the nerve further and cause irritation.
  • Rest your arm as much as possible.
  • Avoid driving for too long.
  • Avoid playing a sport that would require rapid hand movement.

Ari Koinuma, a guitarist, shared how wearing gloves for hand exercises and on cold days helped manage his cubital tunnel syndrome. He said, “I’ve been doing exercises on my left hand with it once a day and it does strengthen guitar-related muscles in my left lower arm. It keeps my forearms toasty warm and really made them feel better (i)”.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for cubital tunnel syndrome to heal?

It takes approximately two to six weeks for cubital tunnel syndrome to go away.

Do compression sleeves help cubital tunnel?

Compression sleeves help manage cubital tunnel syndrome by providing external support and promoting circulation in the affected area.

How may massage help cubital tunnel syndrome?

Muscle stripping helps to relieve cubital tunnel syndrome as this approach applies pressure to the flexor carpi ulnarisi  XAn elongated muscle that lets one extend and adduct the wrist located in the posterior of the forearm. . However, it should be done with caution.

How do you sleep with cubital tunnel syndrome?

Avoiding elbow flexion during sleeping and wearing an elbow splint helps to sleep well with cubital tunnel syndrome.

Is cubital tunnel syndrome the same as tennis elbow?

No. Cubital tunnel syndrome is due to inflammation of the ulnar nerve whereas tennis elbow occurs because of the inflammation of the tendons.

Key Takeaways

  • Cubital tunnel syndrome is caused by the ulnar nerve getting compressed or injured.
  • Exercises for cubital tunnel syndrome help to relieve elbow discomfort and inflammation.
  • Certain nerve gliding exercises, such as elbow bends and head tilts, can stretch the ulnar nerve and increase hand and finger mobility.

Infographic: Best Cubital Tunnel Exercises To Relieve Pain

Cubital tunnel exercises help alleviate pressure on the ulnar nerve and reduce symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. Among the many options available to manage the pain caused by this condition, we have covered the most effective exercises in the infographic below. Check it out!

best cubital tunnel exercises to relieve pain (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Cubital tunnel syndrome exercises help provide relief from elbow pain and limited range of motion. Pain in the ring finger, little finger, or forearm numbness are its typical symptoms. Elbow bend, head-tilt, arm flexion, etc. are a few of the effective exercises for cubital tunnel syndrome’s pain relief. Combining these with the right medicines and ample rest is important for faster recovery.

Learn how to do physical therapy exercises to help relieve cubital tunnel syndrome pain. Watch this video to get tips on stretches and strengthening exercises to reduce discomfort.

Personal Experience: Source

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