5 Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Exercises For Quick Pain Relief

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

By Charushila BiswasCharushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist  • 

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!

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 may occur when a person frequently bends the elbow or leans on the elbow (2).

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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)

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. These exercises will help stretch the ulnar nerve and improve the mobility of your hand and fingers.

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. 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

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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.
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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.

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.

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.

Sources

  1. Carpal and Cubital Tunnel and Other, Rarer Nerve Compression Syndromes” Deutsches Ärzteblatt international, US National Library of Medicine.
  2. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Causes” Stanford Health Care.
  3. Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at the Elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome)” American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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