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Causes of Elbow Pain & Tingling Fingers

by
author image Martin Hughes
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.
Causes of Elbow Pain & Tingling Fingers
Hand holding elbow Photo Credit Hlib Shabashnyi/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

Elbow pain and tingling fingers can make daily tasks difficult. The elbow joint is composed of bone, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and fluid, and injury to any of these structures can cause elbow problems. Less commonly, elbow pain and tingling fingers can be caused by conditions in the neck and shoulder.

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Ulnar nerve entrapment can be a source of elbow pain or discomfort and tingling in the fingers. This condition is caused by the compression of the ulnar nerve -- one of several large nerves that travel through the arm. The ulnar nerve gives sensation to the little finger and half of the ring finger, and controls most of the small muscles of the hand that assist fine motor movements. Although there are several locations in the arm where the ulnar nerve can become entrapped, the most common location is behind the elbow. The most common symptoms associated with ulnar nerve entrapment behind the elbow include a pins and needles or tingling sensation in the ring and little fingers, especially when the elbow is bent, and an aching pain on the inside of the elbow.

Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy can cause elbow pain and tingling fingers. Cervical radiculopathy is caused by the compression of a nerve root in the neck as it exits the spinal column. Nerve roots in the neck leave the spinal column and travel down into the arm, supplying sensation or feeling to the skin and power to the arm muscles. Cervical spine nerve roots that are compressed by a herniated intervertebral disc -- cushions between the bones in your spine that have moved out of position, or bone spurs, can cause pain in the distribution of the affected nerve -- often around the elbow, and tingling in certain fingers. Numbness and muscle weakness are also symptoms of this condition.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome may cause elbow and forearm pain or discomfort and tingling fingers. Thoracic outlet syndrome is caused by compression of the brachial plexus -- a complex arrangement of nerve fibers and blood vessels -- as they travel through a narrow outlet leading from the base of the neck through the underarm and into the arm. There are three types of thoracic outlet syndrome, each with its own unique set of symptoms: neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome, vascular thoracic outlet syndrome and non-specific thoracic outlet syndrome. Thoracic outlet syndrome is more common in women, and usually manifests in people between the ages of 20 and 50.

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