Ulnar nerve release surgery is a procedure for cubital tunnel syndrome – also known as ulnar nerve entrapment. Cutibal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which nearby tissue puts pressure on the nerve inside the cubital tunnel, a narrow space through which the ulnar nerve passes around the elbow. One of the main nerves of the arm, the ulnar nerve travels from the neck to the fingers and is responsible for the sensitive area known as the “funny bone.” The cubital tunnel’s narrowness and minimal soft tissue make the ulnar nerve especially vulnerable to irritation.
Cubital tunnel syndrome can be caused by a repetitive stressor, such as frequently bending or leaning on the elbow, or by fluid buildup or trauma to the elbow. Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include pain, numbness and a “pins and needles” tingling in the elbow that can extend to the ring finger and little finger. Other symptoms include muscle weakness and impaired muscle control in the fingers. When these symptoms do not improve with nonsurgical therapies, your physician may recommend a surgical procedure called cubital tunnel release.
Similar to the surgery performed for carpal tunnel syndrome, the ulnar nerve release operation helps reduce pressure on the ulnar nerve by cutting and separating the overlying ligament. The ligament may gradually grow back together post-surgery, but there will be more space in the ulnar tunnel.