The ulnar nerve. What is it? What does it do?
I’ll tell you what it does… it keeps you up at night.
The ulnar nerve is a critical nerve that runs through each arm, through a small opening near the elbow called the cubital tunnel.
If you’ve ever hit your “funny bone” and sent shocks of electricity down your arm, that’s your ulnar nerve.
This nerve is what gives sensation to your pinky and half of your ring finger. It’s also in charge of some grip strength and fine motor skills in your hand.
However, when it’s under compression, you get some annoying symptoms like tingling in your hands and uncontrollable finger twitching. This is a nightmare for those who work with their hands, especially those who type a lot.
Most people first notice these issues at night because they wake up repeatedly from tingling or numb hands.
If you have this problem, here’s how to fix it. You can kiss me later.
How To Prevent Ulnar Nerve Entrapment & Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
You may feel like you’ll go insane from lack of quality sleep, but I have some quick and easy solutions for you.
- Sleep with your hands at your sides, NOT with bent elbows or clutching a pillow.
- Avoid resting the corner of your elbows on surfaces (desks, arm rests, knees, car windows, etc.).
- Take anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling around your elbow (if applicable).
- Use a heating pad, NOT ice, to signal your body to heal an area & reduce swelling.
- Rest and take time away from movements that may aggravate the problem further, such as benching, curling, or boxing (especially elbow strikes).
- Use an ergonomic keyboard to avoid placing excess strain on your wrists and compression at the elbow (this also helps with carpal tunnel syndrome).
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” — Benjamin Franklin
It may take some time to fully adjust your sleeping habits until the symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment go away.
If you wake up in the middle of the night with tingling or numb hands, simply massage the inside corner of your elbow and the sensation will return to your hand within a few seconds, allowing you to go back to sleep.
Here is where you need to massage the nerve.
Finally, you can perform an ulnar nerve gliding exercise, as shown in this video. This helps relieve compression of the ulnar nerve by “gliding” it through the cubital tunnel. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions several times per day. You may feel a slight pulling sensation in your pinky and ring finger.
Leave your feedback in the comments below. I hope this helps you end the insanity and finally get a full night’s sleep.
And if you have any other sleep issues, be sure to check out my full how-to guide on getting better sleep.