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Had ulnar nerve decompression. Started feeling pain and weakness in fingers. What's going on?

Answered by
Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 15705 Questions

Posted on Mon, 7 Jan 2013 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Question: Hi
I had right ulnar nerve decompression last right arm elbow is hurting if I do some daily activities.even I can feel the pain and weakness in my little finger and ring finger.i just had a tennis elbow release and ulnar nerve decompression on my left arm recently and this means I use my right arm more to do daily it my right nerve compression coming back or just the over use of arm?do I have to consult my doctor again ?
Thanks in advance
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 2 hours later
hi, thanks for using healthcare magic

Ulnar nerve compression is the second most common nerve compression in the arms, second to the median nerve at the wrist.
Because of the superficial position of the elbow, it is commonly injured by any excessive pressure in this area.

You described pain and weakness in your little and ring finger.When the ulnar nerve is affected it presents with a varied set of symptoms from mild numbness or other abnormal sensation in the ring and adjacent fingers to clawing of these fingers and muscle weakness.
There can be pain , as you described.

With a history of previous compression and symptoms which indicate that the ulnar nerve is again experiencing problems, it would be best that you consult your doctor again, if possible, for an assessment.

I hope this helps. Feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Michelle Gibson James 12 hours later
Thank you for the reply.I just had an assessment by my GP this morning and he thinks the same that my symptom is coming back.but he says there is nothing much he can do except giving me some anti inflammatory ointment and referred me to my orthopaedic surgeon.but I dot have the numbness feeling yet.but the pain in elbow and little finger and ring finger is worst than the first time and my shoulder pain is also back.whereas last time I had numbness too.what will be the treatment modalities at this stage?i had surgery what can they do next to free me up from symptoms as quality of my life is much affected with this.Is it something to worry because the symptom is back.i just had surgery on my left arm for the same plus tennis elbow.does this mean that even I am going to have the symptoms returning to my left arm in the future?This week is 6th week following my surgery for left ulnar nerve decompression and tennis elbow release.what are the household chores I can start at this stage eg cooking,chopping vegetables,doing dishes,cleaning home etc.i have a 9 month old baby too.can I start look after her on my own.?sorry for the long reply.And thank you very much for your help.
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 3 hours later

At this stage your doctor may suggest conservative therapy which may consist of night time pillow splints to keep the elbow straight, rest and anti inflammatory medications. In some cases corticosteroid injections are used.After an appropriate period of rest ( at least 72 hrs ) then you may want to consider visiting a physiotherapist for advice on exercises that may be helpful.
Recurrence rates after surgery vary according to the type of procedure done.

You can do some of your home activities just avoid resting on the elbow and repetitive flexing of the joint. You may want to take breaks more often to avoid stressing the nerve.

It is understandable to be concerned

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Michelle Gibson James 4 hours later
Thank you for the reply.I am a nurse by profession works in busy surgical unit.I am supposed to return to work end of January by then it will be 12weeks after surgery.will it be ok for me to return by then or do I need any more time off from work and also is there any job I have to avoid in work during the recovery phase as my job includes heavy lifting,pushing beds etc
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 3 hours later

There are different surgical techniques that are used for surgical decompression. In two of the techniques (decompression in situ and medial epicondylectomy), full activity can be resumed in 1 to 2 mts.
In subcutaneous transposition-stretching and strengthening is carried out of 2 to 3 mths.
In submuscular transposition it may be up to 4 mths in some cases.
The time period for recovery would depend on the type of surgery that was performed.

In terms of the recurrence of symptoms in the other hand and work-the MD disability guidelines state that it depends on your capacity to perform the tasks, risks of recurrence and worsening and ability to tolerate discomfort.
If possible, someone in human resources should evaluate your area and activities to determine what duties would be best.
Any activity that involves sustained or repeated pressure on the elbow or repeated flexion is not advised.
Lifting is not a good idea, especially if it has to be done repeatedly because it involves flexing the elbow.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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