What is Cubital Tunnel Release?
Travelling from the neck to the fingers you’ll find one of the main nerves named the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve is responsible for the intense feeling we find in our funny bone. The cubital tunnel is quite narrow and is comprised of soft tissue making it an area that can easily irritate the ulnar nerve. The symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling starting from the elbow and can extend right down to the ring finger and pinky. Some patients experience muscle weakness and impaired mobility and control of the fingers.
The goal of surgery with cubital tunnel syndrome is to release the pressure on the ulnar nerve. This type of surgery can be performed both with general anaesthesia, or under local anesthetic. There are two surgical techniques that may be used: open surgery or endoscopic surgery.
With open surgery the surgeon makes a 3-to-4-inch incision on the inside edge of the elbow. Your surgeon will divide the overlying ligament known as Osborne’s ligament, releasing pressure on the ulnar nerve by increasing the cubital tunnel size.
With endoscopic cubital tunnel surgery, your surgeon will make two small skin incisions and insert a small camera attached to a tube, called an endoscope. With a small specialized surgical knife, your surgeon will be able to divide the ligament to release pressure on the ulnar nerve and increase the cubital tunnel size.
With both surgical options, the openings/incision will be stitched closed for healing. In some cases, your surgeon may recommend keeping your arm elevated above your heart for 24 to 48 hours to minimize swelling. Some patients are required to wear a splint on the elbow for a few weeks to help the area heal and improve mobility and fingers.