Ulnar Neuropathy Sane Treatment of a Crazy Bone

Do you remember what it felt like when you banged your elbow on a hard surface and it sent shocks through your forearm and into your little finger? Not too pleasant, to be sure. But on the plus side, the unpleasantness was merely temporary and, for the time being, you remembered not to do that again.


The part of the nervous system responsible for this annoying symptom is the ulnar nerve, a peripheral nerve-bundle whose individual nerve-fibers originate in the spinal cord where it passes through the neck. The nerve-fibers run most of the length of the arm, including through the “ulnar groove” which you may know as the “funny bone” or “crazy bone.”

Some people experience a more persisting impairment of the ulnar nerve called ulnar neuropathy. With “-pathy” as the medical suffix meaning illness or impairment, an “ulnar neuropathy” means an illness or impairment of the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve is vulnerable to injury or pinch in the ulnar groove for more than one reason.

First, instead of being surrounded by soft, cushioning muscles and tendons, it is sandwiched between a layer of skin on its exterior surface and nothing but hard bone on its interior surface.

Second, when the elbow bends, the ulnar nerve stretches because it has to take the long way around the elbow.

Like a telephone cable containing numerous wires, the ulnar nerve-bundle contains many individual nerve-fibers, some of which tell the muscles what to do and others of which carry messages back to the spinal cord and brain about sensations experienced by the skin and other tissues. So when the ulnar nerve is injured, both motor and sensory symptoms are possible. Most of the muscles of the hand receive their marching orders via the ulnar nerve, so when the ulnar nerve is out of whack, there can be weakness in hand muscles.

The muscles that spread the fingers and those that straighten the middle joints of the ring and little fingers are often affected. Damage to the ulnar nerve also causes changes in sensation. The ring and little fingers can become numb, and so can the heel of the hand.


The ulnar nerve can come to harm in more than one way. For some people the problem might result from leaning on their elbows too much. This can compress the ulnar nerve within the ulnar groove. Granted, many people lean on their elbows without damaging their ulnar nerves, but like most things in medicine, an ulnar neuropathy is usually caused by a combination of factors, and it is likely that some people are more vulnerable than others based on their particular anatomies. Of course, rearranging one’s anatomy, as for example from a preceding elbow fracture, may also put one at risk for an ulnar neuropathy.

Another way to injure the ulnar nerve is by over-stretching it.

In the author’s clinical practice a thin, young lady with loose elbow-joints who worked as an emergency medical technician injured her ulnar nerves repeatedly while lifting heavy patients. For her, it was a problem that wouldn’t go away, and she eventually changed professions.

Although, as discussed, the ulnar nerve at the elbow is especially vulnerable to injuries, it can also come to harm by getting compressed or pinched by nearby abnormal tissues. The usual culprits are tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, cysts and scars.

Sometimes, an ulnar neuropathy is the leading symptom of a “polyneuropathy,” meaning that all the peripheral nerves in the body are somewhat impaired, but the ulnar nerve is the first one to cause symptoms noticeable to the affected individual. Polyneuropathy is not the result of injury, but can be seen in a variety of illnesses, including diabetes, alcoholism and also on an inherited basis.


Diagnosing an ulnar neuropathy starts with the story of the symptoms and a physician’s examination.

The physician might subsequently order nerve conduction testing which looks at the nerve and muscle electricity, and can determine the degree of impairment. Moreover, nerve conduction studies can also evaluate other nerves to see if the ulnar nerve is the only one impaired, or merely one of many.

What if a simple injury to the ulnar nerve at the elbow is diagnosed? What can be expected? Fortunately, the peripheral nerves have some capacity to heal themselves. So if the degree of nerve impairment is not too severe, conservative treatment is called for.

Unfortunately, there are no conservative treatments that have been studied by good, randomized, controlled trials, a form of evaluation in which the outcome of a treated group of patients is compared to that of an untreated group. Randomized, controlled trials are the gold standard for deciding whether or not a treatment is effective, so in this case all we have to go on is “clinical judgment” and observation.

A typical conservative treatment consists of putting a sport-pad (not a medical brace) on the elbow with the foam covering the ulnar groove. This accomplishes two things. First, if the elbow gets leaned on, then the nerve is still protected. Second, a well-fitting pad also prevents excessive elbow-bending (including during sleep) that overstretches the nerve and re-injures it.

In addition, eating nutritious, well-rounded meals, together with vitamins, gives the ulnar nerve the building-blocks it needs in order to make the best possible recovery.

If the nerve injury is severe, or fails to respond to conservative treatment, then surgery might be beneficial. When the nerve is tied up in scar tissue or compressed by nearby abnormal tissues, a simple release operation might suffice in which the nerve is freed up. Otherwise, in a procedure called “anterior transposition” the nerve is transferred out of the ulnar groove so it is out of harm’s way from leaning on the elbow, and also gets to take to the short way around when the elbow is flexed.

Neurosurgical researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands conducted a randomized, controlled trial of patients with ulnar neuropathy at the elbow in which half the patients received simple release surgery and the other half received anterior transposition.

In this study there was no difference in outcomes between the two surgeries. About two-thirds of the patients in each group obtained an outcome that was considered either excellent or good. However, there were more complications in the patients receiving the anterior transposition procedure, so the results of this study favored the simple release approach.

Ways to Treat Neuropathy

Neuropathy is often a serious and usually debilitating disorder.

It can take away your joy of living, your capability to function independently, and your eagerness for all those activities you utilised to love doing. Too quite a few, neuropathy is more than just a disease, it truly is a cancer. It eats away at everything they hold dear- but it doesn’t have to. Neuropathy sufferers can reside full and active lives if their neuropathy pain is managed appropriately.

Neuropathy can be a illness that attacks the central nervous system. Diabetic Neuropathy is really a neuropathy brought on as a complication of diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy effects men and women in general. It has no recognized cure, and it affects diabetics and non-diabetics the world over. Neuropathy, once diagnosed, could be handled with success.

Here are 5 methods Neuropathy victims can manage their ache and dwell their lives.

1. Treating Neuropathy with Medication
Like most diseases, Neuropathy could be treated with prescription medications. In some cases, a prescription regimen is put in place since a single drug along can not correctly mitigate the problems associated with neuropathy.
A single over the counter medicine that could be utilized effectively as a neuropathy therapy is Capsaicin. Capsaicin is truly what makes scorching peppers scorching, but it is harvested from scorching peppers and made into creams that can effectively numb neuropathy discomfort. Unfortunately, not all topical drugs can get the job done.

2. Quite a few neuropathy victims prefer prescription medicines to treat their neuropathy ache. Medicines for example Cymbalta, target particular nerves to decrease and eradicate nerve anguish. Please be aware that neuropathy medicines come with side effects which include; constipation, dry mouth, diarrhea and nausea.

3. Treating Neuropathy with Injection Therapy
When prescription medicines aren’t enough, injecting nerve blockers like Lidocane into the effected area can temporarily minimize or get rid of neuropathy ache. This form of neuropathy therapy is normally applied in conjunction with other methods (physical therapy or support groups).!.!

4. Treating Neuropathy with Physical Treatment
Neuropathy isn’t just about the problems. Neuropathy causes nerve damage, and that may lead to numb feet, and tingling feet. These signs, along with problems, is often handled utilizing physical therapies for example acupuncture, targeted massage, heat treatment and even exercise.

Living with neuropathy discomfort and other signs doesn’t mean that your existence has to stop. You can have a full and happy life despite the neuropathy. All you’ve got to do to get your life back is to discover the right neuropathy therapy for you. Several troubles come down to correct supplementation. Three key vitamins to think about if you’ve neuropathy are B1, B12, and Alpha-lipoic acid.

What are the causes of Neuropathy


Neuropathy is nerve damage……. It creates nerve pain. 

Neuropathy is nerve damage.   It creates nerve pain.  When the nerve breaks down due to disease, chemical toxins, trauma, etc., the myelin sheath begins to break down.    This creates a short circuit similar to what happens when a wire loses its insulating cover.   The damage can continue and the symptoms of this damage will get worse.

What causes it?  Here is a list of causes………………

Alcoholism – Thiamine (B1) deficiency, in particular, is common among people with alcoholism because they often also have poor dietary habits. Thiamine deficiency can cause a painful neuropathy of the extremities. Some researchers believe that excessive alcohol consumption may, in itself, contribute directly to nerve damage, a condition referred to as alcoholic neuropathy.

Amyloidosis (metabolic disorder) an disorder where a protein called amyloid is deposited in tissues and organs. Amyloidosis can affect peripheral sensory, motor or autonomic nerves and deposition of amyloid lead to degeneration and dysfunction in these nerves.

Carpal tunnel syndrome – Carpus comes from the Greek word for wrist. The wrist is surrounded by a band of fibrous tissue that normally functions as a support for the joint. The tight space between this fibrous band and the wrist bone is called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel to receive sensations from the thumb, index, and middle fingers of the hand. Any condition that causes swelling or a change in position of the tissue within the carpal tunnel can squeeze and irritate the median nerve. Irritation of the median nerve in this manner causes tingling and numbness of the thumb, index, and the middle fingers, a condition known as “carpal tunnel syndrome.” Thus, it can cause nerve damage.

Charcot Marie-Tooth disease – See Inherited neuropathy

Chemotherapy Treatment – Chemotherapy drugs are poisons that attack fast growing cells (rapidly dividing cells).  The theory behind using these toxins is that it will destroy the fast growing cancer cells before it does much damage to normal cells.  Chemotherapy is hardest on the nervous system due to the fact that nerve cells are more sensitive than other cells.

Chronic kidney failure – Chronic kidney or renal failure (uremia) occurs when the kidneys gradually fail to function properly. When the kidneys are impaired, fluids and waste products accumulate in the body. In some cases, kidney failure can cause peripheral neuropathy. Many conditions can cause kidney failure; the most common are diabetes and high blood pressure.

Compression neuropathy – pressure on an area. It is an inability to transmit nerve impulses because compression has damaged nerve fibers either directly, or indirectly by restricting their supply of oxygen. Compression can come from herniated discs in the spine, osteoarthritis can cause bone spurs that can compress a nerve, severe muscle injuries can compress nerves, and even prolonged use of tight clothing such as shoes. It all depends on the nerve compressed.

Connective tissue disease (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis) Connective tissue disorders and chronic inflammation can cause direct and indirect nerve damage. When the multiple layers of protective tissue surrounding nerves become inflamed, the inflammation can spread directly into nerve fibers. Chronic inflammation also leads to the progressive destruction of connective tissue, making nerve fibers more vulnerable to compression injuries and infections. Joints can become inflamed and swollen and entrap nerves, causing pain.

Diabetes mellitus – the higher than normal sugar levels create nerve damage. Chronic neuropathy can start when the nerves are deprived of oxygen or anoxia.

Diphtheria – See Bacterial Diseases

Drugs – Certain anticancer drugs, anticonvulsants, antiviral agents, and antibiotics have side effects that can include peripheral nerve damage, thus limiting their long-term use. Metformin is a drug associated with B12 deficiency and thus nerve damage.   To check on any medications and if they cause nerve damage, go to drugs.com or rxlist.com   Note: neuropathy can be defined as nerve pain, parenthesia, tingling and numbness..etc.

Epstein-Barr virus – See Infections

Foods that are toxic – Some foods and food additives have a direct toxic effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Food allergies and intolerance can create nerve pain – neuropathy. MSG is known to cause nerve damage.

Herniated disc – most compressed nerves will cause inflammation but will get better. This is more likely to cause problems when the nerve is squashed between the disc and an adjacent bone.

Herpes – see Infections

HIV/AIDS – The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, also causes extensive damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The virus can cause several different forms of neuropathy, each strongly associated with a specific stage of active immunodeficiency disease. A rapidly progressive, painful polyneuropathy affecting the feet and hands is often the first clinically apparent sign of HIV infection.

Hormonal imbalances – can disturb normal metabolic processes and cause neuropathies. For example, an underproduction of thyroid hormones slows metabolism, leading to fluid retention and swollen tissues that can exert pressure on peripheral nerves. Overproduction of growth hormone can lead to acromegaly, a condition characterized by the abnormal enlargement of many parts of the skeleton, including the joints. Nerves running through these affected joints often become entrapped.

Idiopathic – when doctors cannot find a specific cause

Immune System – See Inflammation

Inflammation – Chronic inflammation also leads to the progressive destruction of connective tissue, making nerve fibers more vulnerable to compression injuries and infections. Joints can become inflamed and swollen and entrap nerves, causing pain.

Some neuropathies are caused by inflammation resulting from immune system activities rather than from direct damage by infectious organisms. Inflammatory neuropathies can develop quickly or slowly, and chronic forms can exhibit a pattern of alternating remission and relapse. Acute inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy, better known as Guillain-Barré syndrome, can damage motor, sensory, and autonomic nerve fibers. Most people recover from this syndrome although severe cases can be life threatening. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), generally less dangerous, usually damages sensory and motor nerves, leaving autonomic nerves intact. Multifocal motor neuropathy is a form of inflammatory neuropathy that affects motor nerves exclusively; it may be chronic or acute.

And many more diseases!

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