A couple of months ago I noticed a tingling in my right pinky finger. It wasn’t bad, but it seemed to become more noticeable throughout the day. The last week of so I noticed, at times, my finger became numb. Well, I tried several things to see if they would help, but I didn’t notice a difference. At first, I considered it another progression of Kennedy’s Disease. Yesterday, the ring finger went to sleep for an hour. That concerned me, so I did what every red-blooded American does. I Googled “Pinky finger pain.” Here is what I learned from OrthoInfo.
Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed or irritated.
The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves in your arm. It travels from your neck down into your hand, and can be constricted in several places along the way, such as beneath the collarbone or at the wrist. The most common place for compression of the nerve is behind the inside part of the elbow. Ulnar nerve compression at the elbow is called "cubital tunnel syndrome."
Numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers are common symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with conservative treatments like changes in activities and bracing. If conservative methods do not improve your symptoms, or if the nerve compression is causing muscle weakness or damage in your hand, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause an aching pain on the inside of the elbow. Most of the symptoms, however, occur in your hand.
- Numbness and tingling in the ring finger and little finger are common symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment. Often, these symptoms come and go. They happen more often when the elbow is bent, such as when driving or holding the phone. Some people wake up at night because their fingers are numb.
- The feeling of "falling asleep" in the ring finger and little finger, especially when your elbow is bent. In some cases, it may be harder to move your fingers in and out, or to manipulate objects.
- Weakening of the grip and difficulty with finger coordination (such as typing or playing an instrument) may occur. These symptoms are usually seen in more severe cases of nerve compression.
- If the nerve is very compressed or has been compressed for a long time, muscle wasting in the hand can occur. Once this happens, muscle wasting cannot be reversed. For this reason, it is important to see your doctor if symptoms are severe or if they are less severe but have been present for more than 6 weeks.
There are many things you can do at home to help relieve symptoms. If your symptoms interfere with normal activities or last more than a few weeks, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
- Avoid activities that require you to keep your arm bent for long periods of time.
- If you use a computer frequently, make sure that your chair is not too low. Do not rest your elbow on the armrest.
- Avoid leaning on your elbow or putting pressure on the inside of your arm. For example, do not drive with your arm resting on the open window.
- Keep your elbow straight at night when you are sleeping. This can be done by wrapping a towel around your straight elbow or wearing an elbow pad backwards.
When I reviewed the facts with recent activities, here is what I surmised.
- With weaker neck muscles, there are times where I use my right arm as a rest for my head. This happens quite a bit when watching television.
- I have been writing several hours a day with my elbows constantly on the arm rest.
- My arms are hardly ever extended straight for more than a few minutes.
So, knowing this is a possibility, I am embarking on a program to see if I can correct the problem before it becomes more serious.