An ulnar nerve contusion is a bruise of the nerve which is caused by a direct trauma to the elbow. The ulnar nerve is positioned close to the skin surface when passing by the elbow and makes it prone to injury. It causes pain, loss of feeling in the hand and weakness. Contusion is caused when the capillaries tear and bleed while the blood from the torn capillaries enter the nerves.
Symptoms of ulnar nerve contusion
- Limited function of the hand or weakness
- Sharp pain coming from the elbow to the wrist and hand
- Tenderness and inflammation in the elbow
- Atrophy or muscle wasting in the hand
- Tingling and numbness, weakness and loss of feeling in the hand especially in the little finger and the ring finger.
- Weakened grip
- Swollen elbow
- Diminished performance of athletes especially those who require a strong grip.
- Direct blow to the affected area.
- A bony growth in the ulnar groove
- Grip injury
- Compression caused by inflammation and adhesions due to repetitive strain. Adhesions are fibrous bands that develop between organs and tissues due to injury during surgery.
- Ulnar nerve contusion can be caused by direct trauma to the elbow that causes bleeding that enters the nerve
- Playing contact sports such as football and soccer
- Bleeding disorders
- Using blood thinning medications such as warfarin, aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism
Treatment of ulnar nerve contusion
- Take plenty of rest especially the affected area to prevent making the condition worse.
- Wear a splint for the elbow at night time to allow the affected nerve to heal.
- Take the prescribed pain medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen or acetaminophen to lessen the pain and inflammation.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected area at least 10-15 minutes every 2-3 hours immediately after performing any activities to prevent inflammation and pain.
- Massage the area using an ice pack or a piece of ice
- Start performing exercises to rehabilitate the injury. Seek the help of a physical therapist for suitable exercises that are suitable for the condition. By performing these exercises, it helps restore the flexibility of the tissues and lessen the pain during movement.
- Ulnar nerve contusion usually heals in 6 weeks with proper treatment.
- Permanent damage of the nerve, pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the hand.
- If improperly treated or re-injured, it takes a longer time to heal and the grip is weakened.