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Ulnar nerve dysfunction

  • Alternative Names

    Neuropathy - ulnar nerve; Ulnar nerve palsy


    The goal of treatment is to allow you to use the hand and arm as much as possible. The cause should be identified and treated. Sometimes, no treatment is needed and you will get better on your own.

    Medications may include:

    • Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription pain medications to control pain (neuralgia)
    • Other medications, including gabapentin, phenytoin, carbamazepine, or tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline or duloxetine, to reduce stabbing pains
    • Corticosteroids injected into the area to reduce swelling and pressure on the nerve

    A supportive splint at either the wrist or elbow can help prevent further injury and relieve the symptoms. You may need to wear it all day and night, or only at night.

    Surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve may help if the symptoms get worse, or there is proof that part of the nerve is wasting away.

    Other treatments may include:

    • Physical therapy exercises to help maintain muscle strength
    • Occupational counseling, occupational therapy for changes you can make at work, or retraining

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    If the cause of the dysfunction can be found and successfully treated, there is a good chance of a full recovery. In some cases, there may be partial or complete loss of movement or sensation. Nerve pain may be severe and last for a long period of time.

    If pain is severe and continues, see a pain specialist to be sure you have access to all pain treatment options.

    • Deformity of the hand
    • Partial or complete loss of sensation in the hand or fingers
    • Partial or complete loss of wrist or hand movement
    • Recurrent or unnoticed injury to the hand

    Calling your health care provider

    Early diagnosis and treatment increase the chance of curing or controlling symptoms.

    Call your health care provider if:

    • You have symptoms of ulnar nerve dysfunction
    • You have been injured and you experience persistent tingling, numbness, or pain down your forearm and the 4th and 5th fingers.