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Old 07-05-2008, 02:24 PM   #1
Shan Younker
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Ulnar Nerve Rehab

I've been diagnosed with Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at both elbows. The scale goes from mild to moderate to severe, mine is moderate. It was diagnosed using nerve conduction tests. Nerve function is fine at my wrists. My Dr. gave me no advice other than to stop doing things that strain the nerve at the elbows. If I want to continue doing CrossFit this is not a great recommendation since many exercises involve strain on the elbow - pull-ups, rowing, shoulder lifts, push-ups, dips, etc... You get the picture. The symptoms I have are occasional numbness in my ring and pinkie fingers (several times a day) which seems to be worsening. But no pain as of yet and maybe slight loss in grip strength - I haven't been able to crack 30 pull-ups for many months due to losing my grip around pull-up 25. I'd obviously like to rehab this and am looking for suggestions. Anyone out there with a similar experience with ideas on rehab?

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Old 07-05-2008, 02:42 PM   #2
Brian Bare
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Re: Ulnar Nerve Rehab

I'm an occupational therapist that specializes in rehab of the upper extremity. I would first recommend taking a couple of weeks off of training and wearing a static brace to keep your elbow from flexing more than 30 degrees- the same concepts of the RICE method apply to this rehab (rest / ice / elevation) forget any compressive wraps. I would try this for a few weeks and see if symptoms improve. If the symptoms do not improve there is a surgery comparable to a carpal tunnel release. An ulnar nerve transposition is performed bringing the ulnar nerve out of the cubital tunnel more superficial closer to the skin. Results are usually very good with alleviation of symptoms and return to daily activities within 4-6 weeks. In any event this is a problem that should be taken care of sooner rather than later because the longer you wait the more the nerve can be damaged. Hope this helps.
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Old 07-05-2008, 03:31 PM   #3
Shan Younker
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Re: Ulnar Nerve Rehab

Thanks for the info. A few more questions. Should I discontinue ALL training involving the arms including straight arm lifts deadlifts, squats, double-unders. If I only have numbness and no pain or other physical limitations, will the dr. prescribe surgery? I've only seen my GP so far, what type of Dr do you recommend consulting with?

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Old 07-05-2008, 05:51 PM   #4
Brian Bare
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Re: Ulnar Nerve Rehab

I would eliminate any exercises that place stress on the elbows with heavy weight or repetitive flexion / extension of elbow. Exercises such as deadlifting with heavy gripping emphasis should be avoided too. As for what type of physician to see- orthopedic , plastic and neurosurgeons all can manage your care. I would go with an orthopedic surgeon preferably with specialization in upper extremity. Before they make recommendations for surgery they will take in account your EMG results and pobably have x-rays done to rule out any orthopedic causes of inpingment. One example was a long time power lifter who developed severe bone spurs on both elbows along with cubital and carpal tunnel syndrome. He was back to light weight lifting in 6-8 weeks after surgery. Like I said in the other post the surgeon will probably give you a choice between a trial of therapy or surgical intervention. Let me know if I can be any more help.
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Old 07-10-2008, 01:46 AM   #5
Vic Webster
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Re: Ulnar Nerve Rehab

Is it really necessary? Just out of interest, is it dangerous, is "grin and bear it" not an option?

I don't know much about it, but I know my ulnar nerve sometimes clicks and catches sending jolts down my arms, especially when doing push-ups and bench-press type movements.

It's nothing painful, the end result is tingly fingers for a while. It's been happening for almost a decade with no adverse effects.
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Old 07-10-2008, 10:35 AM   #6
Brad Thompson
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Re: Ulnar Nerve Rehab

Try these - I've had significant results:

(WFS) Nerve Glides
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Old 07-10-2008, 11:26 AM   #7
Sara Stamm
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Re: Ulnar Nerve Rehab

Hi, I have just finished a three year program in massage therapy, and we did significant studies on nerve entrapment syndromes.
Before going to the extremes of having a surgery, I would examine the soft tissue surrounding the area. The ulnar nerve runs between muscles of the forearm (palm side of forearm). If those muscles are extremely tight, as can occur from exercises requiring significant grip strength, the impingement could be occurring there. There is also potential for the nerve to be compressed up higher in the pectoral muscles, just after it exits the spinal cord.
If you are interested in exploring this further, have a therapist examine your pectorals, coracobrachialis and biceps short head in the chest and upper arm, and your forearm flexor muscles.
I have had impingement of nerves in the past that was resolved with aggressive soft tissue work in the areas that were too tight. Rest may also resolve the problem as it will give your fatigued muscles a chance to recover.
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Old 07-16-2008, 12:32 PM   #8
Shan Younker
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Re: Ulnar Nerve Rehab

Brad/Sara/Vic,

Thanks for the tips. Grin & bear it is something I've considered, but if you mess with the ulnar nerve too much you can end up with permanent damage and muscle wasting that surgery can't help. I just want to make sure I'm not headed down that path. The glide stretches and massage therapy sound like a good thing to try. I definitely want to avoid surgery if possible. Right now I'm just laying low for a few weeks. Working on lower body exercises and keeping the arms out of it. It's absolutely killing me that I'm missing the regular workouts. But I think I'll come back healthy and ready to jump back into it.

Any more tips out there? They are really appreciated.
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Old 07-16-2008, 01:20 PM   #9
Robert Olajos
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Re: Ulnar Nerve Rehab

I'm having the same symptoms as you and am treating it with chiropractic. I've gone in about 3 times now over the last two weeks, and my chiro says that it should be only 2-3 more visits. The symptoms have definitely decreased, and they disappear completely for a few days after each treatment.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:40 PM   #10
Shan Younker
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Re: Ulnar Nerve Rehab

Robert, what manipulations is he doing?

Thanks,
Shan
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