Ulnar Nerve Entrapment/Neuritis: Conservative Treatment

Patient

Q: My pinky finger has been numb for a month and now its my hand I'm only 29 it doesn't hurt it just feels like it is asleep could u please help i don't have any insurance so any advice would help thank you

Doctor

A:   According with your description, it correlates with a inflammation of the Ulnar nerve because of its superficial position at the elbow, it is often injured by excessive pressure in this area (leaning on the elbow during work, sleeping or while driving a car) or can be compressed at the wrist level. The symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment can vary from mild transient numbness in the ring and small fingers to clawing of these digits and severe muscle atrophy of the hand muscles, also the patient may report severe pain at the elbow or wrist with radiation into the hand or up into the shoulder and neck. Patients may have a hard time in opening jars or turning doorknobs. Early fatigue or weakness may be present if they do a work that requires repetitive hand movements. If the patient rests on the elbows at work, increasing numbness may appear throughout the day.
 
The suggested conservative treatment consist of: patient education (i.e.: avoid resting on elbows at work, using elbows to lift the body from bed, and resting elbows on car windows while driving), using an anterior elbow extension splinting (if necessary), and correction of ergonomics at work should correct the transient numbness. Anti-inflammatory medications also are useful to relieve nerve irritation. Oral vitamin B-6 supplements may be helpful for mild symptoms. This treatment should be done out for 6-12 weeks, depending on patient response. Surgical intervention is indicated if symptoms get worse despite adequate conservative treatment.

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