Ulnar Nerve Entrapment Treatment A.K.A. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome

Fellow Overhauler Dr. Tom Bolan and I have been e-mail chatting about his ulnar nerve entrapment recently. Seeing as he’s not the only one with questions on the subject, I figured ulnar nerve entrapment treatment deserved a post.

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment Treatment

First, a little back ground…Dr.Bolan has practiced chiropractic care for over 30 years. That’s a lot of manual manipulations! This alone can cause a repetitive stress injury like ulnar nerve entrapment. When the flexor carpi ulnaris and flexor digitorum are over-used they  get tight and loaded with trigger points. Not good seeing as the ulnar nerve has to pass between the flexors to get into the cubital tunnel at the elbow.

But wait there’s more.

He was then in an auto accident and tore the flexor muscles in his forearm making things much worse. Not only did this leave a bunch of scar tissue but it required surgery to repair. That caused additional problems and now he is recovering from his 2nd, and hopefully last, surgery.

Dr. Bolan’s case is more extreme than most. But my advice is pretty much the same for anyone who wants a non-invasive ulnar nerve entrapment treatment.

The only advice I’d add to what I’ve said in the video is that I believe Dr. Bolan should get lots of additional soft tissue work done to break up all the scar tissue from his surgeries, but after the wounds have healed.

If you still don’t have The Stick or Flexbar to use for self-care, you can find them on Amazon.

The Stick             Flexbar Red

Another form of ulnar nerve entrapment is called cyclist palsy. This is caused by leaning on your handle bars for an extended time when bike riding. The weight of your upper body compresses the ulnar nerve and your fingers begin to tingle and go numb.

Cyclist Palsy

Whether your ulnar nerve entrapment is caused by compression or a repetitive stress injury, you’re self-care plan is the same.

  1. Identify the offending activity.
  2. Stop or reduce that activity until healed.
  3. Release trigger points and adhesions.
  4. Strengthen weak muscles.

I am clearly a promoter of self-care, but nerve work is an area that I highly recommend you find a good therapist to help you figure things out in the early stages. And a medical professional can help you determine if there might some complicating issues.

You can use a massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractor or osteopath for great help freeing up soft tissue restrictions.

Remember, not all therapists are equal in their skill sets. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Ask them how much experience they have working with nerve entrapment before setting an appointment. And when you’re there, get your money’s worth by making treatment time double as learning time. Ask questions so you better understand how to care for yourself later.

For details on how to free up the ulnar nerve with nerve glides, A.K.A. neural flossing, check out this post on Ulnar Nerve Entrapment Exercises.


Incidence of Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at the Elbow in Repetitive Work.


  • Is ulnar nerve entrapment sometimes confused with tennis elbow or rotator cuff pain? I’ve been suffering from the latter two symptoms, but the recommended rehab has not completely resolved my issues.

  • Once you get below the shoulder the radial nerve takes a different path. I”ll be making a post that soon but in the meanwhile these exercises aren’t perfect for the radial nerve but they should help.

  • It may seem my problem was from computer work as a career. I received a new computer Friday and stayed on it, setting it up, all weekend dawn to dusk. I had all the symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. Shooting pains in forearm, outer fingers numb. I now know my cause was not the expected repetitive motions of a computer worker. But a blood clot in the elbow joint. I felt a lump but until it went away I did not know I had that. Now my joint is very hollow. The doctors missed this, even knowing I sat for 3 days with my arms in one position typing. Lesson – use your common sense as detective, the doctors make too many mistakes in their 5 minutes with you. So the cutting off of the blood supply apparently damaged the nerve and it took a couple of years for that to resolve. What cured me, as I’ve posted before, was time, a cortisone shot then again a year later, and in year 3 aggressive PT for a rotator cuff tear operation (with home exercises 3 times a day) – which had turned into frozen shoulder. After about 5 months of that PT, my whole body was fine. Lesson learned, our bodies are made to move.

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