Tummy Tuck For Men
 By Mike Coviello (Tanner)

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Muscle Atrophy from my Ulnar Nerve


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Weakness In Hand & Fingers. Shortly after my tummy tuck operation I developed a weakness in my right hand. I first noticed it during my normal exercise routine which included a limited number of finger tip pushups. Following surgery, I could no longer do finger tip pushups nor could I even hold myself up in that position. I first attributed this weakness due to my recovery period following surgery. I was wrong.

Muscle Atrophy In Hand
Muscle Atrophy In Hand

Muscle Atrophy Pictures

The following pictures show muscle atrophy (muscle atrophy is a loss of muscle mass. It may be a complete or partial wasting away of the muscle. Common causes of muscle atrophy include poor nutrition, nerve damage and non-use of muscles) and hand/finger deformity due to a pinched or damaged ulnar nerve (the ulnar nerve is a nerve in your arm that runs through your arm, forearm, hand and down to your little finger. The ulnar nerve is the largest nerve in the body that is not protected by bone and muscle and therefore is easily injured.) located in my arm.

Muscle Atrophy from Ulnar Nerve Damage - images/muscle-atrophy-in-right-hand-caused-by-damage-to-the-ulnar-nerve-weak-fingers_small.JPGMuscle Atrophy From Ulnar Nerve Damage
Loss of fleshy muscle mass between the thumb and forefinger. Spread fingers cannot be closed. Bent little finger. All caused by a pinched or damaged ulnar nerve in the arm.

images/muscle atrophy in right hand caused by damage to the ulnar nerve-closed-fist_small.JPG - Loss of fleshy muscle between the thumb and forefinger is very noticeable with a closed fist.Loss Of Fleshy Muscle Between Thumb & Forefinger
Loss of fleshy muscle between the thumb and forefinger is very noticeable with a closed fist.

Open Hand with Muscle Atrophy - images/loss-of-muscle-meat-in-right-hand-caused-by-damage-to-the-ulnar-nerve_small.JPGOpen Hand With Muscle Atrophy
Pinched nerve (the ulnar nerve) in my arm caused numbness, muscle atrophy and partial loss of function in right hand.

NO  MUSCLE ATROPHY in left hand - images/normal-left-hand-no-nerve-damage_small.JPGNO ATROPHY In Left Hand
Compare normal left hand with damaged right hand in the picture above.


My Hand & Fingers Problem

I quickly recovered from my surgery and my muscles quickly regained their strength, that is, all of them except my hand and fingers of my right hand.

At a follow-up meeting with my plastic surgeon, I mentioned that I had a problem with my right hand and fingers. I explained about not being able to do the pushups, that I had occasional numbness, that my right hand and fingers were weak and I pointed out the loss of muscle between my thumb and forefinger. He then examined my fingers, hands, arms and my neck area.

I asked him if this could be related to my tummy tuck plastic surgery. He indicated that it was not, but maybe it was nerve or neck related. He provided me with the name of a neurologist (a neurologist is a medical doctor who specializes in neurology. A neurologist is trained to investigate, diagnose and treat nerve conditions or neurological disorders. Neurology is the medical field involving the study of the human nervous system including the nerves, brain, spinal chord and muscles) and recommended that I make an appointment. 

Muscle Atrophy In Right Hand From Pinched Ulnar Nerve
Muscle Atrophy and Weakness in Hand and Fingers Due to Pinched Ulnar Nerve Muscle Atrophy and Weakness in Hand and Fingers Due to Pinched Ulnar Nerve Muscle Atrophy and Weakness in Hand and Fingers Due to Pinched Ulnar Nerve Muscle Atrophy and Weakness in Hand and Fingers Due to Pinched Ulnar Nerve
Hand Muscle Atrophy Comparison Hand Muscle Atrophy Comparison Hand Muscle Atrophy Comparison Muscle Atrophy Between
Thumb & Forefinger


I made an appointment with the neurologist the very next day and I prepared the following "talk sheet" to bring with me.


My Ulnar Nerve "Talking Sheet"

Right Hand Symptoms

  1. Weakness in fingers (in particular the pinky and the adjacent finger).
  2. Sideways motion of fingers is difficult. Hard to close fingers, as in a salute.
  3. Small finger is bent.
  4. The fleshy area of the hand between the thumb and the first finger is "sunken" and appears to have lost some of it's "meat" or muscle when compared to the left hand.
  5. Finger tips get cold easily as compared to left hand.
  6. Cannot "push" with small finger at all. Pushing capability with other fingers is diminished.

Hard To

  1. Unlock car door with key.
  2. Write name with pen.
  3. Use tweezers.


Neck & Hand History

  1. I am right handed and probably for the last 10 years or so my right hand strength has been strong but not as strong as my left hand.
  2. I work on the computer and use a mouse in my right hand. For the past couple of years I have been wearing a wrist band to alleviate pressure on my wrist.
  3. I lift 25 lb. dumbbells daily in each hand, so I still have some "gripping power" of my fingers.
  4. For about the last 20 years or more I have had occasional difficulty turning head to left (stiff neck/shoulder).
  5. I can only sleep on my left side. If I lay on my right side for more than 3 minutes my neck/shoulder bothers me.
  6. 20 years ago when I worked bent over a drafting board, I would frequently get migraine headaches and a stiff neck.
  7. I "crack my neck" frequently. I have been cracking it for as long as I remember.  
  8. When I was in college I was in a car accident that may have contributed to my neck problems.


My Visit with the Neurologist

My initial consultation with the neurologist (March 25, 2008) consisted of a basic examination. I took off my shirt and he examined my upper body and made me perform several motions, including holding my arms out, moving my arms and neck, manipulating my fingers and having me grip his fingers to test my hand strength. It was a brief examination. He then scheduled me for three diagnostic tests to pinpoint my problem. These included an EMG (EMG stands for Electromyography. Electromyography is a medical test performed by specialized doctors called neurologists. Electromyography checks the electrical activity and health of the muscles and the nerves that control the muscles. To perform the EMG the neurologist or health care provider will insert a very thin needle electrode through the skin into and into the muscle. The electrode monitors and records the electrical activity associated with the muscle. A NCV (nerve conduction velocity) test is usually performed at the same time as an EMG), X-rays and an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

I had the X-rays taken at a local clinic. After putting on a lead apron, the technician took x-rays of my neck and shoulder areas while standing up. 

To have the MRI performed, I had to go to a different facility. I had to remove my clothing down to my underwear and don a surgical gown. I was led to the room where the MRI machine was located and was instructed to sit upon the sliding table. The technician briefed me on the upcoming process and told me what to expect. I laid down on the table and the technician left the room. It was just like you would see on television. The sliding table transferred my body into the MRI machine. I was told to lie very still and not move at all. I was also told not to swallow if I could help it. The MRI began to make noises, some of which were quite loud and annoying. After several minutes it was over. The hardest part of the whole thing was trying not to swallow. 

For the EMG I had to return for a second visit to the neurologist's office. The EMG test is how they tested the condition of the nerves in my arm from my shoulder down to my fingers. They did this by sending a jolt of electricity from one point to another along my body and measuring and recording the electrical conductivity. The only problem with this test is that they stick a needle into your body "down to the nerve" selected to be tested. When the electricity is turned on, you feel an electrical shock. Some of the shocks were relatively painless. Some of them hurt a lot. It was similar to touching an electric fence. Overall, this was not a very enjoyable medical test procedure.

After all the testing was completed, I was called for another meeting with the neurologist to discuss the results. When he entered the room I noticed that he was not smiling.





  1. My first problem was that I probably had carpal tunnel syndrome.

  2. My second problem was that I probably had a pinched or damaged nerve in my arm.

  3. The third and most serious a problem was that the MRI indicated that I had four bad disks (bulging discs) in my neck. He indicated that I might need surgery to fuse the disks and recommended that I make an appointment with a neurosurgeon to discuss the matter further.  Ref Neurosurgical Evaluation & Neurological Evaluation.

I noted to myself that he used the word "probably" a lot. He could not give me definitive answers as to what was the exact cause of the weakness and atrophy of the muscles in my hand and fingers.


Consultation with the Neurosurgeon

The thought of surgery on my neck scared me a little and I quickly made an appointment with a neurosurgeon in my area (after checking out his credentials). I was told to bring a copy of the MRI results with me.

At my initial consultation, the neurosurgeon reviewed the MRI results and performed his own examination of my hands, arms, shoulders and neck. He confirmed that I had four bulging discs in my neck which required an operation to correct. He then described the specific operation needed to fix this.

I asked him how quickly he thought I might need the operation. He could not give me a definitive answer and said that for my neck to get in that condition it might have taken a lifetime. It takes years and years, in some cases, for disks to bulge and go bad as in my case. It was up to me and how I felt to determine when I needed the operation.

He also could not tell me the exact cause of the problem with my hand and fingers but he thought that the most likely cause was a pinched ulnar nerve in my arm. I got the impression he was guessing, but it was an educated guess of a neurosurgeon.  

Thinking back, I did remember many times sitting in my chair at the computer and having my right arm tingle. It always rested upon the armrest of my chair at the same location. I would often have to move my arm and flex it into a few times for the tingling to go way. It didn't occur to me then but I was probably pinching the ulnar nerve at the time and causing the damage. It makes sense. I now take great caution where I place my arm. 

I still have the problem with bulging disks in my neck but I am trying to postpone neck surgery for his long as possible.  


Muscle Atrophy Conclusion

I now believe that my problems with my fingers and my loss of muscle in my hand was caused by pinching the ulnar nerve in my right arm by resting my arm repeatedly against an armrest. To prevent further injury I use great care whenever I rest my arm.  

I am told that whenever muscles atrophy, they never come back, no matter what you do. The most I can do is to strengthen the remaining muscles that I have in my hand and to prevent further damage.

To try to regain some of the strength and dexterity in my hand and fingers and to delay the inevitable neck operation, I eat only nutritional foods and do daily exercises and stretches, paying particular attention to my hands, shoulder and neck areas.  

I believe (but I don't know for sure) that this is helping me as I have had no more tingling sensations of my arms or fingers now.


My Hand 3 Years After
Muscle Atrophy and Weakness in Hand and Fingers Due to Pinched Ulnar Nerve Muscle Atrophy and Weakness in Hand and Fingers Due to Pinched Ulnar Nerve Muscle Atrophy and Weakness in Hand and Fingers Due to Pinched Ulnar Nerve
Fingers Are Straighter Front Of Hand Looks Normal Muscle Between Thumb & Forefinger Never Came Back


I have received a number of requests asking how my hand is today and what exercises I do and nutritional foods I eat to try to keep my hand (and my ulnar nerve) in good condition. This is my condition and status as of February 15, 2012, about 4 years after my ulnar nerve damage and muscle wasting.


Current Condition Of My Nerve Damaged Hand & Fingers

Overall, my hand is "almost normal" and is functional with limitations. The physical appearance of my hand hasn't changed. It doesn't look any worse or any better. It still looks the same as it did in the above photographs "My Hand 3 Years After". The loss of muscle in my hand has never come back but is not normally noticeable unless you look for it.

The function and dexterity of my hand is very good. It functions normally with the exception that my fingers still gets cold quickly when the temperature drops, my writing ability is "slow" and my key turning ability is not as good as my left hand (but still do-able). Overall my hand is not normal, but it's not bad. My grip strength is very good.


Exercises For My Nerve Damaged Hand And Neck Problems

Exercises First Thing In The Morning
15 minutes of stretches in the morning with a cup of coffee wakes me up and gets the kinks out. I do general stretches including arm circles, neck rotations, knee bends, waist twists, waist bends and bending over to a finger-tip pushup position (for a few minutes) to put pressure on and stretch my fingers.


Throughout The Day
Throughout the day, whenever I can, I do the following exercises.

  1. Occasional stretching (pushing, pulling & stretching) of my neck, fingers, hands and shoulders.
  2. Occasion use of a hand strengthener.
  3. I pick up and use two 15 lb. dumbbells for a few minutes at a time throughout the day. I leave them in a convenient and noticeable location so that they are a reminder for me to use them.


Afternoon Exercises
I try to do a minimum of 30-60 minutes of exercises each day including the use of dumbbells. I try to keep it simple and easy so I will enjoy it and not make it into a chore. If it is hard and unenjoyably I will quickly stop doing it. I exercise to music. My afternoon exercise usually include.

  1. 20 minutes minimum of dumbbell use. Dumbbells will not only strengthen the arm but the hand and fingers as well.
  2. I get into the finger-tip pushup position (or as close as I can come to it with weakened fingers) and try to maintain it for as long as I can to increase my finger strength.
  3.  Arm twirls, body twists, body bends, neck turns, neck/head pulling and any other motions that I can do at the time that affects my neck, shoulders, arms, hands and finger.



I still eat the same food that I have for the last five years. I eat only the following healthy foods (well almost only). Fish (salmon and tuna), skinless chicken breast, broccoli, egg beaters with tofu omelet, onions, salad, carrots, fat free Jell-O, coffee with Coffee mate, fat free or low fat yogurt, oatmeal (lots of oatmeal) with vanilla flavored protein powder, grapefruit, apples, lentils. I don't eat any fast food or junk food. I don't drink, except for the occasional wine at holidays.


Supplements & Vitamins

On a daily basis, I take a baby aspirin (Ecotrin) and a multi-vitamin. I used to take Glucosamine to keep arthritis at bay, but I have cut back on that, mostly due to the high price.


Preventative Action

  1. When I work at the computer I wear a wrist band on my hand as extra protection.
  2. I don't let my forearm and elbow area rest or rub against any hard surface such as a desk top or table to prevent further damage to the ulnar nerve.
  3. I do morning stretches each day for about 15 minutes. I concentrate on my hand, fingers, neck and shoulders in particular.
  4. I exercise daily in the afternoon (most days) for 30-45 minutes.
  5. When I watch TV or at other times during the day I stretch, pull and twist on my hand and fingers and neck.
  6. I only sleep on my left side (mostly due to my neck problems). I would never sleep on my ulnar nerve damaged arm and I would try not to bend it while sleeping.



Problem With Right Hand

February 03, 2013
I have a nerve problem with my right hand. the tip of my fingers or cold the nerve at my big finger damage and i have no strength in my hand. i went to all these doctor every one tell me different thing so know they said i have to do surgery. please can u tell me what con i do. thanks. beverly

Response - Bevery, Sorry, but I can't advise you on this. Only a doctor can. Good luck.


Sulfasalazine And Subcutaneous Wasting

June 11, 2012
I have been diagnosed with arthritis and put on Sulfasalazine 2g per day. Since being on the sulfasalazine both hands and feet have acute subcutaneous wasting. Electrical tests suggest axonal peripheral neuropathy. Rheumatologists say they have not seen this drug cause this problem before. It seems to me that this problem has rapidly developed (8 weeks) only since being on this drug. Any Ideas ?


Lost Muscle Between Thumb And Index Finger

I also lost muscle between my thumb and index of my right hand. I already had cervical surgery three times to take care of the pain on my shoulders. I think that since the ulna nerve damaged on your arm to create muscle atrophy from shoulder to your hand that also relate to brachial reflexus nerve as well. I also try to search for the way how to do for the muscle grow back on my arm and hand to normal size and strength. Right now, I am feel so clumsy to do anything, especially, while I hold a pair of chopstick to eat, open the door with the key of my car. Is it a part of aging process?.. READ MORE.


Chairs Cause Ulnar Nerve Problems And Muscle Atrophy?

February 20, 2012
I'm a quadriplegic. Incomplete C6-C7 level. Accident occurred in Oct. '98. My left hand was most severely impaired with minimal use of the thumb and other fingers just barely able to make a fist. But muscle tone in the fingers was pretty normal. Thumb muscle on palm side has always been mushy since accident though. Starting in Sept. 2010, I started noticing sudden atrophy in my left fore-arm.. READ MORE.


Ulnar Nerve Damage & Atrophied Right Hand

February 12, 2012
I too experienced ulnar nerve damage and atrophied right hand. It was right after open heart surgery and I feel it happened with the restraints during surgery or possibly from the I V needles. I was stuck dozens of times for blood draws etc. It has been 8 months ago and has improved. I am not able to bowl as well but it is improving.  Phyllis


Weakness & Muscle Wasting In Hand

February 12, 2012
I was also having pinched ulnar nerve due to bulging discs in the neck followed by weakness in the left hand muscle and wasting subsequently. It was finally down to 20% functionally. It's disappointing I could not use my left hand properly, could not make a full fist, lock/unlock a key or hold things properly. There is noticeable wasting between thumb and second finger, so-called "snuff-box" where the meat is gone. I'm really keen to do anything to bring back it's function as much as possible. Can anyone give me any advice or suggestion?


Pinky Finger Is Numb. Muscle Loss Between Index Finger & Thumb

February 09, 2012
My right hand pinky finger felt numb, I loss the muscle between my index finger and my thumb, I don't felling paint at all, just harder to write or control the key, is there any exercise to do to regain the muscle and the control of my hand ability, I don't have insurance or can effort surgery. Lap

Response - Lap, I sounds like you have something similar to what I had/have. Everything that I know about it can be found at "Muscle Atrophy From My Ulnar Nerve" (this page). Good luck, Tanner

Follow-up Email
Thank you Mr. Tanner for the information, what kind of nutritional foods and daily exercises and stretches that you do, I love to know so I can try to follow, by the way how your hand looking today, have it gain back any muscle? Sincerely, Lap

Response - Lap, I have just completed an “Update” on Muscle Atrophy from my Ulnar Nerve that answers your questions. I didn’t gain any of the lost muscle back but strengthening the other muscles in your hand and fingers may increase functionality. Best regards,


Pain Between Middle Finger & Ring Finger

February 07, 2012
I have a pain in my left hand the pain is between the ring and the middle finger in my forehand I have done a Nerve Induction Test and it came back normal now my doctor he suggest I have Arthritis I don't have pain in my joints in the hand it's just between that two fingers please can you help me weather you think it's a nerve or joint or muscle problem thanks. K

Response - K, I'm not a doctor so I couldn't even guess. I would think there are additional medical tests your doctor (or another doctor) could do to positively determine the cause and see if it is arthritis or not. Sorry I couldn't help. Tanner


Bent Little Finger And Wedding Finger

I have a 14 and 1/2 year old daughter, within approx. the last 9 months her little finger and wedding finger on both hands have started to bend, she has been to see someone at Children's Alderhey Hospital in Liverpool and they put a splint on, she has also attended a Occupational Therapy Appointment and they are saying she has no muscle or lack of muscle by these two fingers and have given her exercises to do. Her GP has also wrote and we now have a appointment with the Rheumatology Department. Have you information as to what the problem could be? I am really worried about her fingers never being able to straighten again. .. READ MORE


Son Slept With Hand Under His Face. Now He Has Lost Use of His Hand.

December 27, 2011
Hi, my son is 21 years old. He just travelled from home to usa. His flight was 13 hours and he slept on the food table where his right hand was under his face. When he woke up he completely lost power of palm and fingers mainly. 36 hours have passed but no improvement. What is u recommendation? He is living in Ohio. Do u recommend any consultant neurology in his area or physiotherapist? Thank u alott for u help. Khalid

Response - Khalid, I can't give you a recommendation but if I were your son I would make an appointment with a neurologist as soon as possible. I would go to the one that could see me the quickest. The faster the diagnosis and treatment the less chance of any long term damage. If I couldn't see one quickly then I would go to a doctor, clinic or emergency room for their examination and recommendation. Good luck to your son. For more iformation you may want to visit Muscle Atrophy from my Ulnar Nerve and read what other people have gone through regarding nerve damage. Tanner

Follow-Up Email
Thank you for your reply. He is being seen by consultant neurology and most diagnosis was ulnar nerve damage caused by long pressure from sleeping on the arm. Hoply he will recover within 3-9 months as they told him. All best for you. Bye.


Undergoing Surgery For A Pinched Ulnar Nerve

December 21, 2011
Hello, im a 14 year old boy i 2 have pinched my ulnar nerve i under go surgery this coming friday. I really like playing computer games, but i also am active i workout everyday. Is there any tips you could give me. My doctor said my condition is severe. I wanted to say thanks for putting this up its helps alot... Please send tips. .. READ MORE


Losing Strength In Fingers And Hand

December 8, 2011
I am srivani, from my 8 th standard i observed my little finger bending slowly, due lack of money i dint went to doctor, after two years we went, (Doctors said: In child hood you might have fell down any where because of nerve damage it happend, do excercise) they dint provide accurate for me...now i am loosing strength in all finger of my right hand, right hand getting weak, Loss fleshy muscle in between thumb and finger , can it be cured ,can you reply me soon, suggest me where can i get an accurate medicine for this. .. READ MORE


Nerve Damage (Compressed Nerves) In Arm - How Long to Heal?

December 6, 2011
I have nerve problems in my right arm & hand since March 2011 after a sleeping incident. My right arm was squashed under my right thigh during deep sleep. It was paralyzed for a few minutes after waking up & problems started in that arm. I felt pain & weakness in the arm all the way to my hand & fingers. It also feels a lot of tingling & was very sensitive such as to cold water & bumping into things make a shocking feel. It was badly bent & I had had extreme difficulties to use my right hand for a few months. I been to the Neurologist back in August & he did an electroshock session with my right arm, hand & fingers. I didn't remember everything he said but my arm had weak nerves that have been compressed & weakened or damaged. .. READ MORE  (see also How Long Does It Take For Nerves To Heal)


Healing Nerve Damage; Muscle Atrophy Can Grow Back

December 05, 2011
Dear Tanner, Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I just wanted to relay back what my physical therapist told me about whether or not muscles that have atrophied due to nerve damage can grow back or not. To be honest she was very optimistic that I will be able to grow them back but said that it will take time. I can't help but be a bit skeptical though since visiting your blog and hearing your story. Anyhow I have started physical therapy and I'm hoping for the best. I was told that it will take about a month or so to start seeing any improvement. I will keep you informed for sure. Regards, Abir.. READ MORE


Claw Hand, Atrophy, Numbness & Ulnar Nerve Damage From Gun Shot

November 27, 2011
Ok guys so i have some questions hopefully you can alleviate my mental anguish:(. so i was shot in the forearm/wrist....went in through my wrist came out by my elbow, and ive been to the specialist (orthopedist) when it first happened in ER and a week later for a checkup, we talked about how I could not feel my pinkie and only about half of my ring finger, he performed a couple test (i was xrayed and all that other stuff when i was in ER the day of), he said i had Ulnar Nerve Palsy, he also said that 75-80% of the time, this heals on its own, because he said my nerve was badly bruised. i should also add that i cant feel those fingers and those two fingers are stuck in "claw deformity" and when i flex them(or try to)...the gun shot hole moves if i open my hand(as much as i can, cuz its painful to flex it open) you can see it pull up and if close it into a fist(which i can do cuz its already claw hand), u can see the shot push itself down, my question is, will this really fix itself?...cuz i could see my nerves/tendons through the hole when it was fresh, i told the doctor this he said it was normal, wont scar tissue form around my tendons and cause me not to be able to move my fingers?.. READ MORE


Muscle Atrophy And Ulnar Nerve Damage In Both Hands

November 23, 2011
I have Muscle Autrophy and Ulnar Nerve Damage in both hands. The right hand is worse and there is severe muscle loss, and the left hand is starting to lose muscle. I have to have both Ulnar nerve released, and carpole tunnel surgery redone in both hands. I also have a MRI schedule for my neck. I have a lot of issues with my disc. I have degenertive disc and joint disease, have had a therasic fusion, and a discectomy at the L4 in my lower back. I also have permenant nerve damage to my left leg and foot, due to the surgery done on my lower back. Surgery was not done quick enough. I also have nuropathy through out my my body. I am a diabetic and this diasease just shuts your body down. All I can say is keep up on your health and eat right and keep those A1C's down. Robyn


Trouble With Hand & Fingers; Ganglion, Schwanoma & Nerve Decompression

November 23, 2011
Hi. This page was very interesting for me as I he same have the same problem with my left hand. I had what was thought a ganglion on my inner left hand..  After the biopsy came back, it turned out to be a schwanoma, a very rare growth on the nerve. Then 2 weeks later I went through another procedure, nerve decompression. After that the feeling of electric volts running through my hand.. I still have numbness in the last 2 fingers and they get cold easily. Both my last 2 fingers are bent and sideway movement is very difficult as well. Do you have normal use of your hand now? Can I at least hope for that? .. READ MORE


Nerve Damage From Blood Test Needle?

November 21, 2011
My problem started when a nurse was taking my blood for a test. She said oops but I was in intense pain this was about 5 years ago. When that happened it made my whole hand/fingers hurt so bad that I couldn't do much with it since it was my right arm and I am righthanded it made life rough. I went to an Urgent care place the next day and Dr there wasn't sure why it happened but said it would get better. I still have pain in the whole right arm and have problems with right hand and can not hardly ever get it comfortable. No Dr would ever tell me why or what happened. The only reason I have recently found this is because of the tv show "Person of Interest" on 11-17-11. Seems weriod that a tv show can give me the info I need and Dr's can't/won't. Now I just have to find out who and how to maybe get this fixed. Rima


Muscle Wasting In Left Hand From Pinched Nerve

November 9, 2011
I developed wasting in my left hand when I was 18 (1972). I had had pain and numbness in my left arm for a couple of years, mostly when I was stressed or when I raised my arm. Local docs were stumped. Went to Duke and they said it was caused by an extra cervical rib that pressed on nerves to the hand cutting off nourishment to the muscle. They took out the rib and I had no further symptoms until 2002. At that time I developed tremendous pain in the left arm, no numbness. I wanted to cut my arm off because it hurt so badly.. READ MORE


Ulnar Nerve Damage From Motocross Accident

November 2, 2011
I had "permanent" ulnar nerve damage in my right hand from my motocross accident on 7/1/2007. After my arm broke (my radius) the bone was stuckbroke of in a weird twisted way. I was in a crappy hospital in Newburgh for a day or two and I totally blame them. They just wrapped my arm up and did not get me into surgery right away.  READ HER STORY


16 Year Old Daughter Has Muscle Atrophy In Her Hand

November 1, 2011
Thank you for your information. We just took my 16 yr old daughter to the doctor for muscle atrophy in her hand. The information you have is helpful and informative.

I think our physician is on the right track because she did mention each of the test you spoke about and she's starting with the EMG. I'm glad to know ahead of time that this may be an uncomfortable test for my daughter.  READ RESPONSE


Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease & Muscle Wasting

October 27, 2011
Charcot-marie tooth disease has muscle atrophy loss of muscle between finger and thumb, loss of muscle calves, arms, feet ....heredity. Doctors didnt even know what Charco was till I enlightened them.


Muscle Wasting

October 24, 2011
I have the same problem - got it sleeping on the couch and typing. Very helpful. Joe


Muscle Wasting In Both Hands

September 15, 2011
I have wasting of muscles in both hands and arms below elbow for several years. It started with right hand and then left hand. Do you think it is spinal muscular dystrophy or it is cubital tunnel Syndrome ? I don't have good grip. It is difficult to make a fist. Do you think I should see a Orthopedic doctor or hand Surgeon? Trish

Response - Trish,
Sorry, but I have no idea whether you have muscular dystrophy, cubital tunnel syndrome or some other medical condition. I would suggest that you make an appointment with your family doctor. He/she can make a proper diagnosis, perform the required medical tests then refer you to the right specialist. Good luck. Tanner

Follow-Up Message
Hi Tanner. Thanks for replying me quickly. I will see my family doctor. Thanks again.


Claw Finger & Severe Wasting Of Finger Muscle

September 12, 2011
Hi, 2 months ago I had cervical fusion surgery and my ulnar nerve in my elbow repaired after being struck from behind by an 18 wheeler a few months before. When I had the surgery I did not have any major problems with my hand and elbow, just some shooting pains. Since I had the ulnar repair and fusion I have developed a claw finger, severe wasting of the muscles between my thumb and index finger and numbness. The nuerosurgeon seemed very concerned and scheduled another cervical MRI. Could it be another disc or a failed ulnar repair surgery? I also have some shoulder pain. This has all happened within 8 weeks. any idea of what could be happening?

Response - Linda,
Bummer! Sorry to hear about that. The last thing you expect after undergoing major surgery is to come out of with worse problems. I have no idea what could have happened. and it would be reckless of me to guess. At least your surgeon is concerned and appears to be doing something about it. Good luck. Tanner

C.L.A.W. Grip, Large, 25 Grips. CLAWL  


Trapped Ulnar Nerve

September 03, 2011
I have the same issue with my left hand which is my dominant hand, weird thing is I know what caused mine 2 motorcycle crashes 7 months apart at a high speed. I have been complaining to my doctor for 4 years, that my hands are not the same especially after the last crash June 1st, 2008. My middle finger, ring and pinkie were bent after the crash and never straightened. Long story short, 3.5 years, tested for ALS 3 times all for them to tell me my ulnar nerve is trapped and best of luck. New appointment with a sports orthopedic surgeon the 19th of this month that actually listened to me. I really hate doctors!!! The new doctor sounds like he will listen since his nurse actually spent 25 minutes on the phone with me when making the appointment. I felt compelled to post on your story and almost relieved that other people suffer from the same issue. Michael

Response - Michael,
My surgeon gave me the option of surgically relocating the ulnar nerve so that (in my case) it's not that easily pinched in the future. Since you say your doctors indicate a "trapped" ulnar nerve you may want to question your new doctor if this option is available for you (but if it was I would assume that your previous doctors would have suggested it). Good luck. Tanner

Neuragen Nerve Pain, Topical Gel  


Levaquin & Ulnar Nerve Damage

August 22, 2011
I have the hand atrophy. Both hands. At the time this occurred I had torn rotator cuffs, severe lower back pain and inflamed S.I. joints in my pelvis. I was on Levaquin. A drug known for rotator cuff tears,lower back pain. I'm assuming this is also the cause of my inflamed S.I. joints and my Ulnar nerve damage, hand damage. Once Levjiquin stopped rotator pain and lower back,S.I. joint pain ceased. Thoughts about Ulnar nerve and hands being tired in to this drug? Thank you. David

Response - David,
Wow! I just went to the Levjiquin website and took a quick look at what Levjiquin was and at some of the Levjiquin FAQs. That’s a scary drug. It looks like it can have several serious side effects including nerve damage.

I would have no idea whether this affected your hands and ulnar nerve, but after reading that webpage I wouldn’t rule it out. Best regards, Tanner


Atrophy & Hand Problems After Surgery

August 21, 2011
I had shoulder surgery on my right shoulder and had a shot in the neck to numb the area, or my right side. Since that time after surgery I have had a numb left little finger. I also noticed that between my left thumb and first finger the muscle has disappeared. I have noticeable weakness in my left hand mostly the thumb and forefinger. Was any of this caused by the shot or the surgery? Daryl  READ RESPONSE


Loss Of Feeling In Thumb From Cut

August 21, 2011
Well August the 5th,2011 I got a very bad cut on my right hand thumb where you could see the bone and I had to get over 30 stitches to close it up. I took out the stitches on the 13Th of August and the cut was healing. On August 20 i noticed some little like shapes on my finger its below the flesh but if you use a flash light you see it on the top part of my thumb. Now if you open your palm, and look to the left of your right hand thumb that is where I have no feeling and to the right I do feel things. the cut is in a v shaped and the point of it starts from the left. What could me to not have feeling in that half? will the circles go away? Will i get back feeling in that half sooner than you think? please reply quickly I am just a child that is going school and now im worried if i will ever be able to have feelin in that half again. Thank You for reading this. Bye, Chante

Response - Chante,
Sorry to hear about your cut and loss of feeling in part of your thumb. I am sorry, but no one other than your doctor will be able to answer your questions. It may be a little too soon to worry about permanent loss of feeling because you are still healing. It seems the only thing for you to do is to tell your concerns to your parents and see if they will take you back to the doctor to get it checked out. Sorry I couldn't help. Tanner


Numb Pinky, Ring Finger and Palm

August 18, 2011
In June 2011 I was working on the computer and suddenly noticed my left pinky, ring finger, and outside palm were numb. (I'm right handed)I gave it a few days but the feeling did not return. Neurologist said it was the ulnar nerve and did a Nerve Conduction Study and could not pinpoint the source of the problem. Study showed muscle weakness in my hand, although at the time I did not notice it being weaker than my right hand. Subsequent MRIs of my neck and brachial plexus did not tell him where it is pinched. By this time the numbness had gone from continual to intermittent. He told me it was something I would have to live with and sent me on my way. A couple weeks ago I went to clip my fingernails and did not have enough strength to do it. I called the Dr. but can't get in until September 8. After reading your information, I'm going to be taking a much more proactive approach to treating this. Thank you for posting. Kim

Response - Kim,
It does seem like doctors sometimes can't tell what the problem is and they just make educated guesses. I agree with your proactive approach. For me, taking vitamins and supplements, exercising my hands, arms, neck and shoulders and doing everything that I can to prevent pinching or pressure on the ulnar nerve (every day) helped me quite a bit. My "pinching" and numbness has never returned (so far). Good luck. Tanner


Ulnar Nerve Damage & Accupuncture

August 18, 2011
I'm sorry about your injury. Have you tried accupuncture? David

Response - David,
No, I have not tried acupuncture. At the time, I didn't think of it. Nutrition, exercise and avoiding contact with the ulnar nerve seemed to work for me. Tanner

Digital Acupuncter Pointer  


Cubital Tunnel Decompression

June 30, 2011
My husband recently underwent cubital tunnel decompression. He has significant muscle atrophy and I was wondering if there is any way to rebuild the intrinsic muscles that were lost.

Response - Sue,

In my case, my doctor told me that my muscle atrophy could not be reversed. Your husbands doctor is the best one to ask for his particular condition. Sorry I don't have a better answer. Best regards, Tanner

Ultra XR Cubital Tunnel Elbow Splint


Numbness & Weakness In Fingers

Monday, June 22, 2011
My left hand side small finger and ring finger cold numb sometimes cramp., weak not enough strong. I'm depressed and fruation myself. since last may to now what so long. I suspect nerves stuck no blood thru. Dont know what cause from.

Response -Terry,
It can be depressing. Not knowing what the cause is and whether it will get better or not adds a lot of worry. The only thing to do is go to a doctor and have it checked out. At least you will have answers. Good luck. Tanner


Numbness & Weakness In Hands

June 06, 2011
My husband as been having numbness and weakness in both hands but so much worse in his left. He had the gastric bypass surgery in Nov and has lost over 100 lbs so we just assumed his hands just looked skinny due to the weight loss. We went to the dr to find out why he had the numbness and weakness and the dr pointed out that his left hand was badly atrophied and looks just like your right hand. His right one also has some but not nearly as bad as his left. At his job he is on the computer quite a bit and at home on weekends he plays online poker which is when he first noticed the numbness. So, now he is going to have to go through the tests to find out exactly what is causing it and what they can do. They said most likely surgery.The also said that this is the worst case he has seen in a long time, which was not only upsetting but very discouraging..  READ MORE

Cando Digi-Extend Hand Exerciser


Problem With Small Finger & Ring Finger

June 05, 2011
I have problem in small finger and ring finger. Please give type exercise for ulner nerve and how to make it strong. thank you.

Response - Sharana,
I am sorry but I don't know of any exercises for strengthening the ulnar nerve. If you mean exercises for strengthening you fingers, everything that I did is already listed on the web page. Best regards, Tanner


Muscle Atrophy In Hand

May 16, 2011
I actually was relieved to a point by this page, my left hand looks just like the picture. Now my dilemma, I have no medical insurance, so could you tell me the shortest route to go now that I know what it is? I cannot afford to go to all different appointments. Any sugestions would be greatfully appreciated. Sincerely, Teresa  READ RESPONSE


Ulnar Nerve Entrapment Surgery

May 04, 2011
Will any of the muscle come back in my hand or will it stay skinny even after ulnar nerve entrapment surgery?

Response - Robert,
If your hand is like mine and is skinny due to muscle atrophy I would guess that it will stay skinny, but that's really a question for your doctor. Good luck. Tanner


Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

May 03, 2011
I have a similar problem from Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. The thing that differs is that the first dorsal inerosseous muscle in my right hand changes size during different times of the day. At times it's looked thin and at other times it thickens out to 2/3 of normal size. So far I have been using this Flextend rehab glove to help re-strengthen my hand and fingers. I was told by the Neurologist that my ulnar nerve should heal on it's own, but he didn't know how much movement I'd get back. Through use of the glove with specific exercises I have gotten some strength and movement back after a couple months. I am hoping to gain back more, without having to have any surgery. I am guessing that my problem is from compressing the muscles in my forearm against the nerve at the elbow and that it also constricts the blow flow somehow by pressing against the artery that supplies the muscle. Chris


Anklosing Spondiylitis

April 20, 2011
Thank you for your information. That could be my hand. I have been diagnosed with anklosing spondiylitis. I had right shoulder complete replacement and will have the left shoulder done in the near future. Sue


Muscle Atrophy In Hand

April 14, 2011
I have very similar muscle atrophy in my left hand, i.e., wastage of the muscle between the left thumb and the next finger and the same resultant sunken look. I had a cortazone injection in the fleshy area at the base of the thumb about 6 months ago to cure triggering I was getting in the left thumb. The triggering was cured but the muscle wastage is still there. I am 57 years old and have had type 1 diabetes for 25 years and this may be a factor in my case. Mine is not quite as severe but it is very demoralising to read that the wastage is not recoverable (and will mine get worse?) Are there no exercises that can be carried out to work this muscle? which must help a bit surely. David

Response - David,
I wish there were a way to get muscles back once they have atrophied, but I have yet to hear of one.

At the stage that both of our hands are in, my main concern is to prevent it from getting worse and restoring complete function to my hand. For the most part I believe that I have regained much of my strength and dexterity in my hand through hand exercises. It's not 100%, but I guess it will have to be close enough. Even though the area between my thumb and the forefinger is sunken, I found that it is not noticeable to others unless I point it out to them. I still stretch, pull on and do some sort of finger exercises every day and probably will have to do so for the rest of my life. That's no big deal though.

Will it get worse? You have to know what caused it first, then fix it or you have to "NOT DO AGAIN" what caused it in the first place. In my case, I was pinching my ulnar nerve by resting my arm in a certain position. Now, I am very careful not to ever do that again for more than a few seconds at a time.

If you don't know what caused your muscle atrophy I would go to the doctor and find out. Once you know how it happened you can take steps to keep it from happening again. Good luck. Tanner


Numbness & Cold Sensation In My Pinkie Finger

April 07, 2011
I had touched some exposed wires and felt a prick in my palm area near the base of my thumb and a shock through my hand. The soft area of my palm did swell and turn red. It is 4 months since this happened and I am having numbness and cold sensation in my pinkie finger. Should I be concerned? Thank you. Sue

Response - Sue,
Sorry for the delay in responding to you. My computer's hard drive went belly up and it took me a little while to recover from it. I have no medical knowledge of your condition but if I were you I would go to the doctor and have it checked out. At least it will give you peace of mind. If something is wrong with your nerves, it would be smart to catch it in it's early stages and hopefully prevent further injury or permanent damage. Good luck, Tanner


Muscle Wasting From Nerve Damage

April 05, 2011
Trying to find out more info about muscle wasting from nerves in the upper/lower arm.I had left carpel tunnel surgery in 12/2006 to clear out emg/nvs test prior to cervical surgery. On 4/2007 had multiple fusion between c/5-c/7 disc with donor bone and titanium plating. All went well with no complications. Involved in a traffic accident 7/2010, which left me with tingling in the middle and ring/little fingers on left. Stiff neck and stiff left shoulder, but with no restriction of movement. 10/2010 began receiving lack of strength on left arm and hand. 11/2010 began receiving wasting of left forearm muscle.12/2010 showed wasting at FCU, FDI, ADM, muscles with severe carpel tunnel, left, no conduction of snaps, or motor of ulnar, moderate radial damage 3 cm lower of elbow. Motor conduction of ulnar showed severe damage at 4 cm above elbow at arcade of shutters and at wrist. Neurosurgeon, neurologist and hand surgeon have question about the time of accident and muscle wasting. I don't have a clue but was just wondering how long after nerve damage does muscle wasting begin to appear? I have since under gone ulnar nerve relocation. I am 60yoa and a heavy equipment mechanic and have been in excellent condition since neck/carpel tunnel surgery. Dan  READ RESPONSE



Natural Treatment For Nerve Damage

March 27, 2011
The article was so informative and a million thanks. I have my hands just like the ones shown in the picture. I cant even pluck my nails or insert the shirt buttons into its holes. Well I am planning to undergo a natural treatment like ayurvedic massage in India. Need your advice on this regard. Once again with gratitude, G.

Response - Dear G,
Those hands in the pictures are mine. I was fortunate to only have problems in one hand and lucky in the fact that I have regained almost full function in that hand. Sorry, but I cannot give you advice on ayurvedic massage. I have never heard of it before and I know nothing about it. I did a quick internet search on it just to see what it was. I hope it helps you. Sorry that I couldn't help. Good luck. Tanner


Carpal Tunnel Surgery

March 10, 2011
I had the carpal and cubital tunnel surgery done on my right hand and arm last june and august ( had to redo the elbow) I still have loss os use of ring and pinkie finger plus severe atrophy between thumb and first finger also below pinkie on right side of hand - strength in hand and fingers are repairing but fingers are useless in cold weather. Two weeks ago I had the left hand and elbow done before damage could get as severe as in the right hand. I was told it could take some weeks to know if this latest surgery is working. I am wondering if there is anything I can do to get the muscle loss back in my right hand - I have never been told to have any kind of therapy but I do go to the gym and use the machines three times a week. any ideas I would appreciate. Mary

Response - Mary,
From what I have been told muscle loss due to atrophy will never grow back.

I have never been told to have any kind of therapy either. I think, the best you can do is to strengthen up the remaining muscles in your hand and arm to help compensate for the lost muscle. It worked for me. My right hand fingers are now strong for grasping but not quite as dexterous (sideway motion) as my left hand and they still get cold very easily but my hand almost feels normal now (after a few years).

The only thing I could suggest is to use dumbbells, squeeze balls and hand springs and do anything you can to build muscles in you hand, fingers and arm. Oh yeah, I also used to push, pull and stretch my "bad" fingers as far as they could go in an effort to straighten them out and increase flexibility. I still do that. I think that helps. I would and still do that several times a day and when watching TV. Proper nutrition and supplements probably wouldn't hurt either. Good luck, Tanner

Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Pinched Nerve In Shoulder

February 07, 2011
Was very interested to read your story as I have had the same experience. Fourteen years ago after surgery to remove an ovarian cyst I experienced a severe migraine whilst in recovery. After that I lost strength in the 'pointer' finger of my left hand - I couldn't spray my deodorant. When I mentioned this to my surgeon he didn't seem to think there was any connection. Over the next seven years the muscle in my left hand wasted away then, when I became pregnant the doc said I had carpal tunnel. A specialist said it wasn't carpal tunnel and I was sent to a neurologist for testing. (Horrible!) He said I "probably" had a pinched nerve in my shoulder and said I could have surgery to prevent further damage although it would not help the damage that was already done. Just recently I have noticed further weakening in my ring finger and would like to try the exercises you mention. Can you describe the exercises or do I need to see a physio? Thank you, Wendy  READ RESPONSE


Ulnar Nerve Surgery

January 20, 2011
I am writing because I am concerned about resuming normal activities, such as typing which I am now doing left handed. Recently as 2 months ago I had Ulner Nerve surgery. Before that I had secondary lymphodema. I've been having lymphodem massage and that is helping the swelling, but the pain is still bad and now I cannot hold my fore arm up without it falling. Also I my wrist has little strength. I can't do a thumb up. Can you tell me if this is common, and is there any chance at regaining my strength? The Orthopedic doctor said there was no permanent nerve damage. Any information would be appreciated. Thank you. Barbara

Response - Barbara,
I don't know anything about lymphodema and you didn't say if you had any muscle atrophy associated with your ulnar nerve surgery. My condition was not as severe as yours and mine did improve with time and exercise. It would seem that your doctor is the only one who could answer your questions. Sorry I couldn't help. Good luck. Tanner


Muscle Atrophy

January 09, 2011
My daughter found your website and passed it along to me as I have exactly the same thing as you. I have very bad lower disc problems and my hand has atrophied to the point of barely being able to use my hand. I do not feel like I have a neck disc problem too badly though. I have lost most of the strength in my right hand, (I am right-handed)and my wife has to button my shirts where I need my right hand to use. I can barely handle a toothbrush or do minor things with my right hand anymore. I have yet to see neurologist but this has happened pretty fast and i am finally scared into seeing a doctor. I will let you know what he says. My hand atrophy is almost identical to yours. My question though is: Can't you exercise the atrophy muscles and work them back to strength or has your doctor said they are gone forever? Roger  READ RESPONSE

Muscle Medicine: The Revolutionary Approach to Maintaining, Strengthening, and Repairing Your Muscles and Joints  


Nerve Damage

January 03, 2011
25-yr right handed driver got laceration just below right elbow 5 years back. For past year he had problem in driving. O/e well healed about 7cm scar on medial side of right elbow, clawing of pinky & ring fingers, also numbness of these 2 fingers, atrophy of hypothenar area, froment+,adduction/abduction weak, fdp of ulnar 1/2 is weak, tinal is + 3cm dital to scar.

My questions are:
1. Whether these evidences are sufficient to prove ulnar nr injury at wound or we have to waste resources for cervical spine x-ray,emg/ncs.
2. If nr is cut at wound site would nr repair be beneficial to restore sensation.
3. Any thing less than surgical intervention can be the option for 25-yr driver.

Response - Iftkhar,
Sorry, I can't answer your questions. I barely understood them. They are for a doctor or surgeon to answer. I will post your comment on the website but I doubt that anyone can give you a satisfactory answer over the internet. Good luck. Tanner


Muscle Atrophy & Ulnar Nerve Damage

December 08, 2010
Are you feeling better now? Did you have the surgery? My father in law is in the exact same situation. We don't know whether he should have surgery. The DR is telling him to have neck surgery. The DR is not sure what the cause of the muscle athrophy is. This concerns us we don't want him to have surgery if not needed. Please let me know your outcome. Thanks, Kelly

Response - Kelly,
It's been 3 years since I had my problems diagnosed. Since then I have been eating healthy and exercising every day concentrating on stretching the muscles in my shoulders, neck, arms and fingers. I have not had the surgery yet and I am feeling pretty good. The tingling has all but gone away. I still feel an occasional "tingling" (a few times a year).

My muscle loss in my hand has not come back (as expected) but my dexterity, mobility and strength in my hand has increased due to the exercise. I know my neck problems did not heal themselves am I am still aware that I have them, but 98% of the time it's no problem.

I don't know if it's the exercise, healthy eating or if I am just lucky (so far), but I plan to push the operation as far off as I can. I am hoping by the time I am in pain and really need the operation they will have improved the medical technology and techniques used for neck surgery. Good luck to your father in law.
Best regards,


Muscle Atrophy & Ulnar Nerve Damage

December 08, 2010
Hi, How can I contact the person who posted this blog? Muscle Atrophy from my Ulnar Nerve-- My father has the same problem with his hands. He's hands looks exactly like his persons hand. We went to the DR and they didn't give us a definite answer as to what is causing the muscle atrophy. They also told us that he would need neck surgery. I would just like to know the outcome of his problem. Did he have the surgery is he feeling better now What did he do to feel better. Please help. We are just don't know what to do with my dad now. We have no clear answer Please help. Thank you, Raffi

Response - Raffi,
Earlier today someone named Kelly sent me an email with the same questions. I assume you are married to Kelly. I responded to Kelly's email but the email address that she gave was incorrect and the email was returned. Here is what I told her.. (see above). Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck. Tanner


Muscle Atrophy & Ulnar Nerve Damage

December 08, 2010
Tanner, Thank you so much for your prompt reply. It was very informative. I wasn't sure if I reply back to the email it would get back to you therefore, I'm responding on the post. Thank You. Raffi


Worst Ulnar Nerve Test Results

November 15, 2010
I had a fusion in my neck and when I woke up from surgery my left had ( I am left handed) was hurting and numb and tingling, felt weak and just didn't stop. It was right up there with the pain I was having as far as being annoying and hurting. After 1 year of this pain and numbness I had it checked out and an EMG and found that I had the worse "Ulnar nerve results" this Dr, who had done thousands of them, had ever seen. I eventually had surgery on the ulnar nerve and was told it would take a long time for it to recover because nerves recover slower than anything in the body. Now a year later I still have the numbness and..  READ MORE


Numbness In Ring Finger & Middle Finger

May 12, 2010
Well this is me to a T. But I've had the neck surgery a year ago...they tested me for elbow and should pinching after the surgery.. I then exercised and seemed everything was getting better...then bang after a hunting trip it all went down hill...actually worst, now I have numbness in my ring and mid finger, wasting is occurring. WTH Now what can I do? or who can I see! No Name  READ RESPONSE



Ask A Question/Tell Your Experience

Muscle Atrophy and the Ulnar Nerve

What is Atrophy?

Atrophy is the partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body. Causes of atrophy include poor nourishment, poor circulation, loss of hormonal support, loss of nerve supply to the target organ, disuse or lack of exercise or disease intrinsic to the tissue itself. Hormonal and nerve inputs that maintain an organ or body part are referred to as trophic [noun] in medical practice. Trophic describes the trophic condition of tissue. A diminished muscular trophic is designated
as atrophy. ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atrophy


The Ulnar Nerve

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) describes the ulnar nerve as one of three main nerves in the arm. It starts at the spinal cord/neck, runs beneath the collarbone and along the inner upper arm. At the inner elbow, the ulnar nerve passes through a space called the cubital tunnel. When you hit your "funny bone," you are hitting the ulnar nerve. The nerve then journeys under muscle to the wrist, enters another tunnel (Guyon's canal) and ends up on the outer palm/little finger side of the hand.


Nerve Entrapment

According to MayoClinic.com, nerve entrapment (also called a pinched nerve) occurs when surrounding tissue presses on or squeezes the nerve. This then causes the nerve to become inflamed or damaged and interrupts its function. In the case of the ulnar nerve, impingement can occur at the wrist, under the collarbone or at the spinal cord. However, AAOS notes entrapment of the ulnar nerve most often happens at the elbow.


Causes of Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Repetitive activities that keep the elbow bent, such as typing or holding a tennis racket, are likely causes, according to AAOS. Leaning on the elbows for prolonged periods or keeping your arms curled up at night may also be culprits. MayoClinic.com notes that obesity, osteoarthritis and heredity can contribute to a person being more prone to nerve damage. An injury that involves a blow to the elbow can cause swelling that pinches the nerve.

AAOS reports the ulnar nerve is responsible for sensations in the little finger and half of the ring finger closest to the little finger. It controls most small muscles in the hand and some larger forearm muscles. Entrapment of the nerve can cause numbness or a pins-and-needles sensation in the ring and little fingers. It can also cause pain along the inside of the elbow. It may result in a weak grip, making it difficult to hold onto items, or may interfere with the fine motor activity required for playing a guitar.

See your physician for symptoms lasting longer then a few weeks. Ulnar nerve entrapment may cause muscle wasting. AAOS reports this is irreversible. According to MayoClinic.com, the obvious way to recover is to stop whatever activity caused the issue. Physicians may also prescribe Motrin, Advil or another anti-inflammatory. For debilitating symptoms, surgery followed by physical therapy may be necessary. One surgical option is anterior transposition, during which the surgeon moves the nerve from behind the elbow to in front of the elbow. Your doctor will choose which option is best for you. AAOS reports results of surgery are generally good, but advise it can take some time for nerves to recover.





  1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Guide
    An extensive resource to find information on Carpal tunnel syndrome and its treatment methods. Discover the causes, symptoms, exercises, carpal tunnel surgery, wrist braces, etc. Learn some simple carpal tunnel exercises to prevent CTS.



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