Dr. Alexandra Turner Plastic Surgeon MBBS BSc FRACS MED00001125632

Hand Surgery Adelaide - Carpal tunnel release cubital, trigger finger, trapeziectomy, Dupuytren’s, finger joint replacement

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome & Surgery

Cubital tunnel syndrome is the compression or entrapment of the ulnar nerve at the level of the elbow. Common symptoms include numbness and tingling of the little and ring fingers. Occasionally it can produce pain up the forearm and around the elbow. Cubital tunnel surgery can relieve the symptoms associated with cubital tunnel syndrome.

What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

Also called ulnar nerve entrapment, this occurs when the ulnar nerve, which passes through the cubital tunnel on the inside of the elbow, becomes swollen and compressed due to irritation. It may result in pain similar to the sensation you experience when you knock your funny bone.

Commonly reported symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness and pain in the hand or ring and little fingers. Symptoms often occur more frequently at night or when the elbow is bent or rested on for long periods.

Reasons to have a cubital tunnel release

The cause of cubital tunnel syndrome is usually unknown. However, it can develop due to an injury to the area, bone spurs, arthritis, an accessory muscle, or bending your elbow for prolonged periods. The symptoms are made worse when the elbow is bent or leant on for long periods of time. Left untreated, cubital tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent nerve damage in the hand.

We can address the symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome with a surgical procedure. Your surgeon will release the various structures that are irritating the ulnar nerve allowing it to glide smoothly within the cubital tunnel in the elbow.

The ulnar nerve release procedure

Cubital tunnel release is a surgical procedure to address the symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. There are two approaches your surgeon may take depending on your condition. Most commonly, they will create a new tunnel and reposition the ulnar nerve. Alternatively, they can remove the medial epicondyle (the bony lump on the inside of the elbow), enabling the ulnar nerve to glide smoothly when the elbow is straightened and flexed.

The cubital tunnel release surgery is performed as a day procedure, and you will return home immediately after your surgery. A standard cubital tunnel release takes about forty-five minutes to complete. Most patients recover from the surgery within two weeks and return to normal activities within three to four weeks.

Recovery after cubital tunnel surgery

Following your surgery, we will give you guidelines to ensure the best recovery possible. Recovery from cubital tunnel release surgery varies from patient to patient. Symptoms such as numbness or tingling may improve quickly or may take up to six months to resolve.

It is normal to experience swelling, stiffness or tingling in the first few days following your surgery. You can manage these symptoms by applying an ice pack, moving your fingers or keeping your hand higher than your elbow as much as possible.

Most patients can use their hand for gentle daily activities in the few first days after their surgery.

Your stitches will be dissolvable. The wound will be checked and the dressing changed 10-14 days after surgery, and you should try to use your hand for daily activities as much as you can from this point to assist your recovery.


Call Dr Turner’s office today to book your appointment to discuss a cubital tunnel release surgery and how it can relieve your pain and discomfort.