Ulnar nerve dysfunction: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

  • Abnormal sensations in the 4th or 5th fingers, usually on the palm side
  • Numbness, decreased sensation
  • Pain
  • Tingling, burning sensation
  • Weakness of the hand

Pain or numbness may awaken you from sleep. Activities such as tennis or golf make the condition worse.

Diagnosis & Tests

An exam of the hand and wrist can reveal ulnar nerve dysfunction. Signs may include:

  • “Claw-like” deformity (in severe cases)
  • Difficulty moving the fingers
  • Wasting of the hand muscles (in severe cases)
  • Weakness of wrist and hand bending

A detailed history may be needed to determine the cause of the neuropathy.

Tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Imaging scans
  • Nerve conduction tests
  • Recording of the electrical activity in muscles (EMG)
  • X-rays

Pictures & Images

Ulnar nerve damage

Review Date : 9/25/2008
Reviewed By : Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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