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How Physio Can Provide Ulnar Nerve Pain Relief

or call us today at 0207 884 0374

Located within the elbow, the ulnar nerve is vulnerable to all sorts of forces and problems. It passes quite superficially around the bony inner corner of the elbow or ‘funny bone’. There is nothing funny about giving this area a good accidental whack though. It hurts, a lot. Nerves can produce a huge amount of pain and symptoms of burning, pins and needles and/or numbness. You don’t have to have all three to have a problem with your ulnar nerve, and the distribution of the symptoms may vary depending on the amount of problem and type of irritation.

ulnar nerve

Sticky Spaghetti

Nerves need a constant blood supply and complain loudly if their blood supply is restricted due to compression. They also don’t like being held still. They like to be able to move through the surrounding tissues, like spaghetti boiling in a saucepan. If you give the spaghetti a stir and keep the water moving, the spaghetti doesn’t get stuck together or to the bottom of the pan. This is a good way to think of the multiple nerves in our body, which have to slide and move around and through so many other structures in our body. Over tight muscles or changes to our bones (maybe a fracture or some osteoarthritis) may compress or restrict the movement of the nerve, and it will complain. Nerves also don’t like a build up of inflammatory chemicals near them. They react badly to this, either because the volume of fluid compresses them directly, or the chemicals irritate them. This means injuries nearby or somewhere along the nerve can cause pain or symptoms. However, this doesn’t have to be directly where the symptoms are being felt. Problems with the nerve in the neck or hand can cause what is known as a ‘double crush’ response, and even a small vulnerability at the elbow or possibly too much repetitive movement can then cause symptoms here.

Physio Can Identify the Cause

What physiotherapy can do is help you to identify the risk factors in your particular set of circumstances with careful neural assessment and analysis of the surrounding tissues that might be causing problems. You might even think you have something different to a nerve problem such as golfer’s elbow or muscle overuse, but actually your ulnar nerve is contributing to your persistent symptoms. Accurate diagnosis can help speed up your recovery as you can then receive treatments such as neural mobility exercises to improve the movement and health of the nerve, taping to offload surrounding pressures, release of tight muscles or stiff joints that might be stopping the nerve moving easily, or treatment to reduce swelling and chemical irritation in the area.

There are many and varied treatment options to try before there is any need to consider more invasive treatments, so make sure you get a good and thorough assessment to address any problems you’re experiencing with your elbow. Our physios are able to treat and assess you at a time convenient to you. Contact us today on 020 7884 0374 or email

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