Ulnar Nerve Injury: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
The ulnar nerve travels down the internal side of the elbow. Ulnar nerve injury or contusion caused by trauma to the ulnar nerve means often bruising injury to it near the surface of the skin. Ulnar nerve injury causes the capillaries surrounding ulnar nerve to rupture and bleed. The blood from the ruptured capillaries infiltrates the nerve. If there is direct injury to the ulnar nerve, then it results in temporary or permanent damage of the nerve. Symptoms of ulnar nerve injury are similar to ulnar nerve neuropathy. Common symptoms of ulnar nerve injury are pain, weakness in the hand, and loss of feeling, commonly in the fourth and fifth fingers.
Causes of Ulnar Nerve Injury
- Traction injuries.
- There may be progressive compression because of inflammation and adhesions due to repetitive strain.
- Direct trauma.
- Bony growths in the ulnar groove.
- Individuals involved in contact sports such as football, soccer or rugby suffer more from this injury.
Symptoms of Ulnar Nerve Injury
- Tingling, numbness or burning sensation in fingers or hand.
- Sharp pain that may radiate from the elbow to the wrist and hand.
- Weakness and heaviness in the hand.
- Weak grip and dexterity.
- Swelling is present at the elbow.
- Tenderness is also present in the inner elbow.
- Muscle atrophy in the hand.
- Athletes will see a decline in their performance especially in those sports which need a strong grip
Treatment of Ulnar Nerve Injury
- Rest is important for healing.
- Cold therapy application helps in reducing pain, swelling and inflammation.
- The arm should be immobilized using a splint or a cast.
- Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen help in reducing pain, swelling and inflammation.
- Neural stretching exercises are also helpful.
- Stretching and strengthening exercises can be started once the pain subsides.
- If pain persists then surgery may be required.