Exercises for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome is the second most commonly occurring nerve entrapment syndrome in the upper body according to Hand Health Resources. Compression of the ulnar nerve in the inside of your elbow causes pain and tenderness at your elbow and numbness and tingling in your little finger and ring finger. Exercises for cubital tunnel syndrome reduce discomfort in these fingers as well as restore your grip and your ability to perform fine movements.


The ulnar nerve is responsible for the very unfunny pain you feel when you hit your funny bone. This nerve passes through a tunnel formed by the humerus bone in your upper arm; the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle, which bends your wrist forward; and a ligament that holds the nerve next to your bone. Bending your elbow narrows this tunnel, potentially pinching the ulnar nerve. Exercises for cubital tunnel syndrome focus on strengthening and stretching muscles and promoting good postural balance.


Perform ulnar nerve gliding exercises three times a day, according to the American Society of Shoulder and Elbow Therapists. There are three nerves that supply power and sensation to your fingers, including the ulnar nerve. These elastic nerves lengthen and shorten as we move. Trauma causes microscopic adhesions to bind the nerve. Nerve gliding exercises work to free these adhesions.

Ulnar Nerve Glide

Perform the ulnar nerve glide to reduce symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome, as described by American Society of Shoulder and Elbow Therapists. Put your arms out the sides with your wrists pulled back as if you were stopping traffic from both directions. Bend your elbows and bring your palms back to your ears, fingers pointing to your shoulders. Stop when you feel gentle tension. Repeat ten times.

Alternate Exercises

Hold your arms out to your sides, elbows straight and fingers loosely curled but not in a fist. Turn your palms toward the sky. Tilt your head towards the shoulder away from your affected arm until you feel tension. Return your head to the starting position and repeat ten times.

Perform finger adduction and abduction exercises as often as necessary. Spread your fingers widely apart then bring them back together. Repeat ten times.

With your arm extended in front of you and your elbow straight, bend your wrist and curl your fingers toward your body and then extend them away from you and bend your elbow.


Do not do any exercise to the point of pain. Therapists do not normally indicate range of motion exercises, designed to increase the degree of movement in a particular joint, for the treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome. Avoid holding your elbow in a flexed position for an extended period of time. Do not put additional pressure on your ulnar nerve by leaning on your elbow. Try to keep your elbow straight at night.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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