Rehabilitation of an Ulnar Nerve Contusion
The ulnar nerve is located just below your elbow and a blow to that area can result in a contusion. A contusion occurs when blood flows from the damaged capillaries to the nerve itself. The results are painful and can lead to numbness in your hands and fingers and a complete loss of feeling. An ulnar nerve contusion limits activities that require you to use your hands or fingers.
Playing contact sports such as football and soccer puts you at risk for getting an elbow injury. Falling while running or riding a skateboard are common activities that lead to the damage. Hypothyroidism, diabetes and bleeding disorders also put you at a higher risk of developing an ulnar nerve contusion.
Ulnar Nerve Damage From Cycling
Sometimes an ulnar nerve contusion occurs when you “hit your funny bone,” though there's nothing funny about the associated discomfort. In addition to the tingling, which typically occurs in the fourth and fifth fingers on the arm you bumped, you may feel increasing pain as the nerve become more entrapped. Rehabilitation begins immediately by doing what you can to relieve the swelling around the nerve. Immobilize your arm in a sling and apply ice to your elbow while taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. If the tingling does not subside in a few hours, you should see a doctor.
- Sometimes an ulnar nerve contusion occurs when you “hit your funny bone,” though there's nothing funny about the associated discomfort.
- In addition to the tingling, which typically occurs in the fourth and fifth fingers on the arm you bumped, you may feel increasing pain as the nerve become more entrapped.
Rest, anti-inflammatory medications and ice usually are first used to treat the contusion. Stretching and strengthening exercise are recommended and your arm may need to remain in a splint overnight to prevent complications. Massage designed to loosen up the scar tissue that may be forming from the fall can help to relieve the pressure on your nerve and dispel the tingling and pain. When home care and moderate exercises don’t relieve the symptoms, surgery may be required to release the nerve that's become pinched in your elbow from the injury.
- Rest, anti-inflammatory medications and ice usually are first used to treat the contusion.
- When home care and moderate exercises don’t relieve the symptoms, surgery may be required to release the nerve that's become pinched in your elbow from the injury.
Leave it Alone
Nerve Glide Exercises
More often than not, the numbness and weakness you feel after you bang your elbow dissipates all by itself without any further intervention. In fact, you may just need to shake it off. Rest and avoiding the movement that caused the contusion will speed up your recovery as well. While some ulnar nerve contusions heal spontaneously, more severe damage can take about six weeks to heal. Rarely are the symptoms permanent.
- More often than not, the numbness and weakness you feel after you bang your elbow dissipates all by itself without any further intervention.
Ulnar Nerve Damage From Cycling
Nerve Glide Exercises
What Causes Forarm Aches When Cycling?
How to Use an Arm Sling for a Fractured Shoulder
Exercises for Numbness in Fingers at Night
Treatments for a Torn Ligament in the Elbow
Pain From a Torn LCL Ligament When Walking
Problems With a Numb Foot After Hip Replacement
How to Get Rid of a Hematoma
Elbow Is Snapping During Exercise
- Washington Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine: Ulnar Nerve Contusion
- SportsInjuryClinic.net: Entrapment of the Ulnar Nerve
- Lee EY, Sebastin SJ, Cheah A, Kumar VP, Lim AYT. Upper Extremity Innervation Patterns and Clinical Implications for Nerve and Tendon Transfer. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017;140(6):1209-1219. doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000003873
- Polatsch DB, Melone CP, Beldner S, Incorvaia A. Ulnar nerve anatomy. Hand Clin. 2007;23(3):283-9, v. doi:10.1016/j.hcl.2007.05.001
- Menorca RM, Fussell TS, Elfar JC. Nerve physiology: mechanisms of injury and recovery. Hand Clin. 2013;29(3):317–330. doi:10.1016/j.hcl.2013.04.002
- Cutts S. Cubital tunnel syndrome. Postgrad Med J. 2007;83(975):28–31. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2006.047456
- Colloca L, Ludman T, Bouhassira D, et al. Neuropathic pain. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2017;3:17002. Published 2017 Feb 16. doi:10.1038/nrdp.2017.2
- Taylor JL, Amann M, Duchateau J, Meeusen R, Rice CL. Neural Contributions to Muscle Fatigue: From the Brain to the Muscle and Back Again. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016;48(11):2294–2306. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000923
- Dy CJ, Mackinnon SE. Ulnar neuropathy: evaluation and management. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2016;9(2):178–184. doi:10.1007/s12178-016-9327-x
- Bonaldo P, Sandri M. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of muscle atrophy. Dis Model Mech. 2013;6(1):25–39. doi:10.1242/dmm.010389
- Lleva JMC. Ulnar Neuropathy. StatPearls [Internet]. Published June 4, 2019.
- Chhabra A, Wadhwa V, Thakkar RS, Carrino JA, Dellon AL. Recurrent ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow: Correlation of surgical findings and 3-Tesla magnetic resonance neurography. Can J Plast Surg. 2013;21(3):186–189. doi:10.1177/229255031302100305
- Assmus H, Antoniadis G, Bischoff C. Carpal and cubital tunnel and other, rarer nerve compression syndromes. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2015;112(1-2):14–26. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2015.0014
- Depukat P, Henry BM, Popieluszko P, et al. Anatomical variability and histological structure of the ulnar nerve in the Guyon's canal. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2017;137(2):277–283. doi:10.1007/s00402-016-2616-4
- Ivanov-smolensky AG. [Disordered activity of the nerves in contusion-commotion]. Voen Meditsinskii Sb. 1945;(2):193-8. PMID: 20281202
- Mankowitz SL. Laceration Management. J Emerg Med. 2017;53(3):369-382. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2017.05.026
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Pain, Disability, and Chronic Illness Behavior. The Anatomy and Physiology of Pain. Pain and Disability: Clinical, Behavioral, and Public Policy Perspectives. Published January 1, 1987.
- Das Neves Borges P, Vincent TL, Marenzana M. Automated assessment of bone changes in cross-sectional micro-CT studies of murine experimental osteoarthritis. PLoS One. 2017;12(3):e0174294. Published 2017 Mar 23. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174294
- Ultrasound. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Published 2019.
- Domkundwar S, Autkar G, Khadilkar SV, Virarkar M. Ultrasound and EMG-NCV study (electromyography and nerve conduction velocity) correlation in diagnosis of nerve pathologies. J Ultrasound. 2017;20(2):111–122. Published 2017 Jan 17. doi:10.1007/s40477-016-0232-3
- Vardeh D, Mannion RJ, Woolf CJ. Toward a Mechanism-Based Approach to Pain Diagnosis. J Pain. 2016;17(9 Suppl):T50–T69. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2016.03.001
- Grinsell D, Keating CP. Peripheral nerve reconstruction after injury: a review of clinical and experimental therapies. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:698256. doi:10.1155/2014/698256
- Kamat AS, Jay SM, Benoiton LA, Correia JA, Woon K. Comparative outcomes of ulnar nerve transposition versus neurolysis in patients with entrapment neuropathy at the cubital tunnel: a 20-year analysis. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2014;156(1):153-7. doi:10.1007/s00701-013-1962-z
- Woo A, Bakri K, Moran SL. Management of ulnar nerve injuries J Hand Surg Am. 2015 Jan;40(1):173-81. doi:10.1016/j.jhsa.2014.04.038
- Dimitrova A, Murchison C, Oken B. Local effects of acupuncture on the median and ulnar nerves in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome: a pilot mechanistic study protocol. Trials. 2019;20(1):8. Published 2019 Jan 5. doi:10.1186/s13063-018-3094-5
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow. Updated September 2015.
- Elhassan B and Steinmann SP. Entrapment neuropathy of the ulnar nerve. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. November 2007 vol. 15 no. 11 672-681. doi:10.5435/00124635-200711000-00006
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."