One of the three major nerves in the arm is the ulnar nerve. This nerve extends between your collar bone, along the inside of your arm and down to your pinky on the palm side. It is responsible for carrying nerve signals that control hand and forearm movements. There are different conditions that can cause damage to this nerve and create a variety of symptoms.
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Ulnar Nerve Compression
The ulnar nerve can become compressed as the result of a fracture or even from leaning on the elbow too much. This nerve is often referred to as the "funny bone." If it is compressed or whacked you may experience temporary sensations such as prickling or a dull pain in the elbow.
Ulnar Nerve Entrapment
Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when this nerve becomes compressed by a bone spur, inflammation, swelling or an injury. You may experience numbness and tingling sensations in the ring finger or pinky, and your elbow may ache.
Ulnar Nerve Dysfunction
Ulnar nerve dysfunction is a type of neuropathy that occurs when there is damage to the myelin (outer covering of the nerve) or the axon. This damage interrupts the nerve signals and can cause tingling or burning sensations in the ring finger or pinky, decreased sensation in the hand and decreased ability to move the muscles of the hand.
Ulnar Nerve Palsy
This condition is the result of severe damage to the nerve from an injury or medical condition. It causes atrophy (wasting away) of the muscles of the hand and a clawlike formation of the hand as the fingers become frozen in a bent position.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
This syndrome occurs when the elbow is repetitively bent and the ulnar nerve is overstretched and irritated. Symptoms include elbow pain, weakness and tingling in the hands. This condition can become worse if scar tissue from injury to the nerve develops around the nerve.