Case of Worsening Pain and Numbness in Fingers

Cubital tunnel syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome, a rare condition causing compression of the ulnar nerve.

A 40-year-old man presented to the urgent care clinic with complaints of worsening pain in the right elbow and numbness in the right hand. The patient also complained of numbness in his right pinky and right finger with a history of 3 days. His medical history revealed that he had fractured his elbow 6 years ago. He further stated that the pain symptoms started after a game of tug-of-war. He did not complain of any neck pain or other symptoms in his arms and legs or fever. Based on investigations and clinical findings, the patient was diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome.

Physical examination showed normal vital signs except for paresthesia in half of the ring finger and right little finger, including weakness. For further evaluation, doctors advised a radiograph which showed hypertrophic bony arthritis of the elbow. Doctors diagnosed the patient with cubital tunnel syndrome of the elbow.

The syndrome is a manifestation of a previous fracture, excessive leaning of the elbow, tumour or cyst.

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a rare condition that causes the ulnar nerve to compress, leading to neuropraxia. Symptoms of the condition include numbness and tingling of the ulnar half of the ring finger and the pinky. In more severe cases, it may even cause weakness of the muscles that are innervated by the ulnar nerve.

Treatment includes low-dose, short-term steroids and stopping any activities that aggravate the pain. However, doctors advise surgery in case of bone growth or an enlarging cyst.


Clinical Challenge: Elbow Pain and Numbness in Fingers

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Dr. Aiman Shahab is a dentist with a bachelor’s degree from Dow University of Health Sciences. She is an experienced freelance writer with a demonstrated history of working in the health industry. Skilled in general dentistry, she is currently working as an associate dentist at a private dental clinic in Karachi, freelance content writer and as a part time science instructor with Little Medical School. She has also been an ambassador for PDC in the past from the year 2016 – 2018, and her responsibilities included acting as a representative and volunteer for PDC with an intention to make the dental community of Pakistan more connected and to work for benefiting the underprivileged. When she’s not working, you’ll either find her reading or aimlessly walking around for the sake of exploring. Her future plans include getting a master’s degree in maxillofacial and oral surgery, settled in a metropolitan city of North America.


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