Ulnar nerve dysfunction - Overview
Neuropathy - ulnar nerve; Ulnar nerve palsy
Definition of Ulnar nerve dysfunction:
Ulnar nerve dysfunction is a problem with the ulnar nerve, which travels from the shoulder to the hand and allows movement or sensation in the wrist or hand.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Damage to one nerve group, such as the ulnar nerve, is called a mononeuropathy. Mononeuropathy means there is nerve damage to a single nerve. Both local and body-wide disorders may damage just one nerve.
The usual causes of mononeuropathy are:
- An illness in the whole body that damages a single nerve
- Direct injury to the nerve
- Long-term pressure on the nerve
- Pressure on the nerve caused by swelling or injury of nearby body structures
Ulnar neuropathy occurs when there is damage to the ulnar nerve, which travels down the arm. The ulnar nerve is near the surface of the body where it crosses the elbow. The damage destroys the nerve covering (myelin sheath) or part of the nerve (axon). This damage slows or prevents nerve signaling.
Damage to the ulnar nerve can be caused by:
Temporary pain and tingling of this nerve can occur if the elbow is hit, producing the experience of hitting the "funny bone" at the elbow.
Long-term pressure on the base of the palm may also damage part of the ulnar nerve.
In some cases, no cause can be found.
- Reviewed last on: 9/26/2010
- David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Vallarino R, Santiago FH. Ulnar neuropathy (wrist). In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr., eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2008:chap 35.
Weiss LD, Weiss JM. Ulnar neuropathy (elbow). In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr., eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2008:chap 23.
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