Cubital tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the second most common nerve entrapment that happens in the arm, with carpal tunnel syndrome being the most common. It is commonly known as cell phone elbow because it effects people who spend a lot of time with their elbow flexed. This is the position that you would hold your cell phone.
CTS is caused by pressure to the ulnar nerve that happens at the cubital tunnel which you can see here to the left. The Ulnar nerve runs down the middle of your arm from your neck all the way to your fingers.
The most common symptoms include pain and numbness over the pinky finger and the inside of the ring finger. Often people will wake up with this sensation because their sleeping with their elbow in a flexed position (bringing your first up to your shoulder).
A thorough diagnostic work up is necessary to determine if the cause of the symptoms is cubital tunnel syndrome (CTS) or possibly a condition that mimics CTS. If it is determined that CTS is the diagnosis the treatment options vary from conservative to invasive. The first step is to limit or eliminate the behavior that is perpetuating the problem. Most often this is a repetitive movement that involves flexion of the elbow.
There are conservative therapies for CTS that don’t require injections or surgery. A recent study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapies showed that patient with mild to moderate symptoms favored well from CTS.