Stretches for the Ulnar Nerve

Ulnar nerve pain can make it difficult to do the simplest activities. Pain in the hand and fingers can make life pretty unpleasant. The ulnar nerve branches off from the brachial plexus and runs down through the forearm and into the hand, innervating the ring and pinky fingers. If you are suffering from ulnar nerve pain, there are some simple stretches that you can do to improve pain and function.

As this person performs radial deviation, she is stretching the muscles that control the wrists. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Causes

There are several reasons why you may be feeling pain in your fingers from your ulnar nerve. All of the conditions result from ulnar nerve entrapment, meaning that the nerve is being compressed. These conditions include ulnar tunnel syndrome, cyclist's palsy and bowler's thumb. Management of these conditions includes relieving the pressure on the nerve. This is done by stretching the muscles that surround it. Tight muscles can lead to nerve compression, so keeping them flexible can help.

Hyperextension

Extension is considered when your hand is straight out and the wrist is not bent. To feel a stretch in your forearm and hand where the ulnar nerve runs, you must hyperextend your wrist. To do this, place your palms together in a prayer position; hold this stretch for at least 20 seconds.

Radial Deviation

This stretch is a frontal plane movement that involves the flexor carpi radialis and the extensor carpi radialis, both muscles of the forearm. To do this stretch, keep your hand straight out in front of you with your wrist extended, not bent. Slowly move your hand toward the middle of your body, then return it to start position.

Ulnar Deviation

Ulnar deviation is the opposite movement of radial deviation. This stretch uses the flexor carpi ulnaris and extensor carpi ulnaris, both muscles of the forearm that work the wrists. With your hands in front of you and your wrists extended, move your hands away from the middle of your body at the wrists.

Considerations

When you perform these stretches, be sure to hold each one for at least 20 seconds. Stretches can be done two to three times daily. These stretches should not cause you pain. If you are unsure about what you are doing, it may benefit you to see your doctor. He can give you specific exercises for your condition.

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