Ulnar nerve release surgery

The ulnar nerve goes around the rear of the inner side of the elbow, an area sometimes referred to as the funny bone. The ulnar nerve then goes through a tight tunnel between the forearm muscles. Ulnar nerve compression (or cubital tunnel syndrome) occurs with increased pressure on the ulnar nerve, resulting in numbness in your ring and little fingers. Ulnar nerve release surgery aims to resolve this.

This page is only for informational purposes and is not a substitute for advice from a qualified medical professional.

What does ulnar nerve release surgery involve?

Before surgery you will have a consultation with a surgeon to ask any questions about preparation, the procedure itself and aftercare.

Ulnar nerve release surgery helps to prevent further damage to the nerve. If you have the operation in a timely fashion any instance of numbness in the hand may improve.

The operation usually takes between half an hour and three-quarters of an hour and a variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible.

Your surgeon will cut any tight tissue that is compressing the nerve over the back of your elbow on the inner side. Sometimes a bit of bone is removed, or a nerve is shifted to lie in front of the elbow.

What are the alternatives to surgery?

If your symptoms are mild and happen mostly at night, a splint may help to hold your elbow straight in bed.

General complications

• Pain
• Bleeding
• Infection
• Scarring

Specific complications

• Continued numbness in your ring and little fingers
• Return of numbness
• Numbness in a patch of skin just below the tip of your elbow
• Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the arm (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day. Keep your arm elevated for the first couple of days. It is important to gently exercise your fingers, elbow and shoulder to prevent stiffness.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities. Before exercising, ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice. Your symptoms may continue to improve for up to six months.

We look forward to hearing from you to discuss your needs and see how we can get you the best treatment, quickly and affordably.

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