Ulnar nerve dysfunction: Treatment

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to allow you to use the hand and arm as much as possible. The cause should be identified and treated. Sometimes, no treatment is required and you will get better on your own.

Treatments may include:

  • A supportive splint or elbow pad to help prevent further injury
  • Corticosteroids injected into the area to reduce swelling and pressure on the nerve
  • Surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve, if the symptoms get worse, movement is difficult, or there is proof that part of the nerve is wasting away. Surgical decompression may be recommended if the symptoms are from entrapment of the nerve.
  • Over-the-counter analgesics or prescription pain medications to control pain (neuralgia)
  • Other medications, including gabapentin, phenytoin, carbamazepine, or tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline or duloxitine, to reduce stabbing pains.
  • Physical therapy exercises to help maintain muscle strength
  • Occupational counseling, occupational therapy, job changes, or retraining

Prognosis (Expectations)

If the cause of the dysfunction can be found and successfully treated, you may make a full recovery.

Disability can vary from none to partial or complete loss of movement or sensation. Nerve pain may be uncomfortable and last a long time. If pain is severe and continuing, see a pain specialist to be sure you have access to all pain treatment options.

Complications

  • Deformity of the hand
  • Partial or complete loss of sensation in the hand or fingers
  • Partial or complete loss of wrist or hand movement
  • Recurrent or unnoticed injury to the hand

Calling Your Health Care Provider

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have symptoms of ulnar nerve dysfunction
  • You have been injured and you experience persistent tingling, numbness, or pain down your forearm and the 4th and 5th fingers.

Early diagnosis and treatment increase the chance of controlling the symptoms.

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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