Ulnar nerve release

What is an ulnar nerve release?

The ulnar nerve goes around the back of the inside of your elbow and passes through a tight tunnel between the forearm muscles. The nerve can become compressed resulting in numbness in your ring and little fingers.

If your symptoms are mild and happen mostly at night, a splint to hold your elbow straight while you are in bed often helps. In many cases, it is best to have an operation to release the nerve to prevent permanent nerve damage.

What does this involve?

Ulnar nerve release takes 30-45 minutes to complete and can be done under local anaesthetic as a day-case patient. Your surgeon will make a cut at the back of your elbow to cut any tight tissue or remove any bone that is compressing the nerve.

The incision will be closed with stitches and dressed after the operation.

When will I recover?

The procedure will be carried out as a day case so you should be able to go home the same day. You will have a bandage on your elbow and may need to use a sling. In any event, you should keep your arm lifted up for the first couple of days and gently exercise your fingers, elbow and shoulder to prevent stiffness.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice Your symptoms may continue to improve for up to six months.

What risks should I know about?

Ulnar Nerve release is a routinely performed operation and is very successful. Some complications can occur although they are uncommon such as continued or return of numbness in your ring and little fingers which may require another operation. You may also have numbness in a patch of skin near your elbow which usually settles down on its own, but may be permanent.


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