Ulnar neuropathy is a general term primarily referring to any disease associated with ulnar nerve entrapment. Patients suffering from ulnar neuropathy may present with neuropathic pain as well as sensory and motor deficits in dependent areas of their forearm, wrist or hand.
As has been implied above, UNP may refer to a variety of conditions that share common features: affected individuals often claim pain, motor deficits, and sensory alterations. Of note, intense pain may limit mobility and thus mimic motor dysfunctions such as reduced grip strength. Sensory deficits may comprise, but are not limited to, numbness, paresthesias, and dysesthesias. Determined arm positions and movements such as extension, flexion, or rotation, may exacerbate complaints. The palpation of compromised segments may elicit pain. Extensive knowledge regarding the anatomical structures innervated by the UN, their position and function, are required to associate a clinical picture of upper limb neuropathy with lesions of the UN. To this end, the following disorders should be considered:
- Compressive entrapment of the UN: cubital tunnel syndrome, Guyon's canal syndrome/ulnar tunnel syndrome  
- Metabolic disorders manifesting in form of peripheral neuropathy or polyneuropathy, e.g., diabetic neuropathy 
- Infectious and inflammatory conditions
- Traumatic lesions of the UN
- Mass lesions as caused by cysts or tumors 
- Deformities associated with advanced-stage rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, among others 
- Developmental anomalies, e.g, Martin-Gruber anastomosis, Riche-Cannieu anastomosis 
These categories are not mutually exclusive. For instance, space-occupying lesions may exert mass effects and trigger compressive entrapment of the UN .
- Elbow Pain
BACKGROUND: Elite-level women's fastpitch softball players place substantial biomechanical strains on the elbow that can result in medial elbow pain and ulnar neuropathic symptoms. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Patients can be left with Elbow pain from surgery and not infrequently, with injury to the Ulnar branch of the Flexor Carpi Ulnaris muscle in the vicinity, with subsequent weakness and elbow pain. [teleemg.com]
Sometimes these patients routinely rest the elbows on hard surfaces. Elbow pain, sensory loss of the little and ring fingers, and grip weakness are common complaints. [columbianeurosurgery.org]
MR imaging of edematous anconeus epitrochlearis: another cause of medial elbow pain? Skeletal Radiol. 2005; 34(2):103–107. doi:10.1007/s00256-004-0808-4 [CrossRef] [healio.com]
- Musculoskeletal Pain
Practical, clinically relevant material facilitates the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal, pain, and chronic disabling conditions. [books.google.com]
- Numbness of the Hand
Ulnar neuropathy refers to pain, tingling, or numbness in one or both hands resulting from compression of the ulnar nerve, almost always at the elbow (rarely at the wrist). [precisionneurosurgery.com.au]
Ask the patient about numbness in their hand. Typically, patients will not have numbness over the dorsal aspect of the ulnar side of the hand if ulnar nerve is compressed at Guyon’s canal. [optimalperformanceclinic.ca]
If you have thickness or nodules in your hands or fingers, color change in your hands and fingers that is not due to weather, or tingling and numbness in your hands and fingers, you may have a serious condition. [carpaltunnelpros.com]
The person may awaken at night with numbness in their hand or discover that when they perform activities like using a hair dryer, the numbness is more noticeable. In time, carpal tunnel injuries can weaken the muscles in the hand. [webmd.com]
The main symptoms are pain and numbness in your ring finger and little finger, as well as a general weakness and numbness in the hand that can make it hard to grip things securely. [irwinmitchell.com]
- Claw Hand Deformity
Paralysis of interossei and the medial two lumbricals causes 'claw hand' deformity, mainly seen in the ulnar fingers. There may be wasting of the hypothenar muscles, interossei and the medial part of the thenar eminence. [patient.info]
- Thalamic Pain
Get a broader perspective on your field from new chapters on Labral Tears of the Shoulder and Hip, Pubalgia, Chondral Injuries, Central Post-Stroke Pain (Thalamic Pain Syndrome), Chemotherapy-induced Peripheral Neuropathy, Radiation Fibrosis Syndrome, [books.google.com]
The diagnosis of UNP is based on anamnestic and clinical data. Results obtained in a general examination may also indicate an underlying pathology, but additional diagnostic measures are usually required to identify the primary disorder. In this context, diagnostic imaging plays a primordial role: plain radiography is mainly carried out to assess osseous structures, but the UN cannot be visualized using this technique. Therefore, sonography is to be preferred . For high-resolution images of soft tissues, magnetic resonance imaging may be conducted . UN function may be assessed by means of nerve conduction tests, which are generally combined with electromyographic studies. Moreover, laboratory analyses of blood samples (blood counts, blood chemistry, immunohistochemical studies) are recommended and may reveal enhanced inflammatory parameters and the presence of autoantibodies, among other pathological alterations.
CONCLUSIONS: NCS confirmation of ulnar neuropathy identified patients with a poorer prognosis regarding symptoms. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
In terms of the prognosis of ulnar neuropathy early decompression of the nerve sees a return to normal ability (function), which should be immediate. [en.wikipedia.org]
Although prognosis after surgery has been described in previous studies, many questions exist about predictors of CTS prognosis in working populations. [cdc.gov]
PURPOSE: Patients with ulnar neuropathy of unclear etiology occasionally present with lesion extension from elbow to upper arm level on MRI. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
We are careful not to suggest that all of the remaining 30% of patients have a disseminated neuropathy of non-compressive etiology. [journals.plos.org]
Keywords: Adult, Comorbidity, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, epidemiology, etiology, Cumulative Trauma Disorders, complications, epidemiology, Female, France, epidemiology, Humans, Incidence, Logistic Models, Male, Middle Aged, Musculoskeletal Diseases, classification [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Neuritic leprosy: epidemiology and therapeutic responsiveness. Lepr Rev 1992;63:263-268 [ Links ] 3. Shahani BT, Halperin JJ, Boulu P, Cohen J. [scielo.br]
Epidemiology Ulnar nerve entrapment is the second most frequent entrapment neuropathy in the upper extremity (the first being the median nerve and its branches). [ 6 ] The elbow is the most common area for entrapment. [ 1 ] The frequency of ulnar nerve [patient.info]
CONCLUSION: Although we found significant differences in patterns of muscle bulk and strength between groups of UNE patients with different UNE pathophysiologies, in the majority of arms, neurologic examination could not reliably predict UNE pathophysiology [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
However, relieving pressure on the nerve is the best hope to prevent further progression of the disease. [virginiahandcenter.com]
To help prevent further injury and relieve symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a supportive splint for the wrist or elbow. [brain-surgeon.com.au]
During these exercises, new range of motion and basic physical exercises, as well as manipulation, can help restore full sensation to the nerve and prevent future damage from occurring. [gaspine.com]
An early and accurate diagnosis of any form of hypermobility of ulnar nerve, informing patients about it, prevention of an ulnar nerve injury as well as compliance with ergonomic rules are essential to avoid development of occupational and non-occupational [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
The ulnar nerve (UN) originates from the brachial plexus and descends along the medial side of the upper limb. Its proximal segment is embedded in the medial bicipital groove of the upper humerus, and more distally, the UN pierces through the medial intermuscular septum to reach the epicondylar groove located posterior to the medial epicondyle of the humerus. Here, the UN reaches its most superficial position, which is best illustrated by this well-known scenario: an unfortunate bump to the elbow may provoke a tingling sensation along the respective forearm and hand if the UN is struck. Subsequently, the UN enters the cubital tunnel, a fibro-osseous channel delimited by the medial epicondyle of the humerus (medially), the olecranon (laterally), the elbow joint capsule and medial collateral ligament (anteriorly), and Osborne's ligament (posteriorly) . Distal to the elbow, the UN travels between the humeral and ulnar heads of the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle and above the flexor digitorum profundus muscle. In close proximity to the wrist, the UN divides into a superficial sensory and deep motor branch. On its way towards the fourth and fifth digit, the latter has to pass through the Guyon's canal (also referred to as ulnar canal), which extends over approximately 4 cm, from the pisiform to the hook of the hamate . It is further confined by the flexor retinaculum of the carpal tunnel, pisohamate and palmar carpal ligament, palmaris brevis and abductor digiti minimi muscle.
The UN contains both motor and sensory nerve fibers and gives off branches to innervate the following structures:
- Flexor carpi ulnaris and flexor digitorum profundus muscle (motor control)
- Third and fourth lumbrical muscles, hypothenar muscles, palmar and dorsal interossei muscles, and adductor pollicis muscle (motor control)
- Medial half of the palm, medial half of the back of the hand (sensation)
- Fifth digit and ulnar side of the fourth digit (sensation)
Ulnar neuropathy (UNP) is a general term referring to lesions of the UN without specifying the site, degree, and cause of injury. Consequently, any of the aforementioned anatomical structures may be compromised. The precise clinical picture may allow to narrow down the possible sites of UN damage.
- Choi SJ, Ahn JH, Ryu DS, et al. Ultrasonography for nerve compression syndromes of the upper extremity. Ultrasonography. 2015;34(4):275-291.
- Vezeridis PS, Yoshioka H, Han R, Blazar P. Ulnar-sided wrist pain. Part I: anatomy and physical examination. Skeletal Radiol. 2010;39(8):733-745.
- Hoogvliet P, Coert JH, Friden J, Huisstede BM. How to treat Guyon's canal syndrome? Results from the European HANDGUIDE study: a multidisciplinary treatment guideline. Br J Sports Med. 2013;47(17):1063-1070.
- Chen SH, Tsai TM. Ulnar tunnel syndrome. J Hand Surg Am. 2014;39(3):571-579.
- Rota E, Zavaroni D, Parietti L, et al. Ulnar entrapment neuropathy in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: an electrodiagnostic study. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2014;104(1):73-78.
- Beekman R, Slooff WB, Van Oosterhout MF, Lammens M, Van Den Berg LH. Bilateral intraneural perineurioma presenting as ulnar neuropathy at the elbow. Muscle Nerve. 2004;30(2):239-243.
- Kawanishi Y, Miyake J, Omori S, Murase T, Shimada K. The association between cubital tunnel morphology and ulnar neuropathy in patients with elbow osteoarthritis. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2014;23(7):938-945.
- Burakgazi AZ, Russo M, Bayat E, Richardson PK. Ulnar neuropathy with prominent proximal Martin-Gruber anastomosis. Int J Neurosci. 2014;124(7):542-546.
- Rohilla S, Yadav RK, Dhaulakhandi DB. Lipoma of Guyon's canal causing ulnar neuropathy. J Orthop Traumatol. 2009;10(2):101-103.
- Andreisek G, Crook DW, Burg D, Marincek B, Weishaupt D. Peripheral neuropathies of the median, radial, and ulnar nerves: MR imaging features. Radiographics. 2006;26(5):1267-1287.