Ulnar nerve pain

July 12, 2018, 10:41 AM · Has anyone ever dealt with nerve issues? I am dealing with some ulnar neuropathy my left hand. Any suggestions are very much appreciated!

Replies (8)

July 12, 2018, 10:56 AM · Is it the ulnar nerve itself that's been damaged (for example by compression at the elbow) or are you suffering from pain down the ulnar side of the arm possibly caused by compression of nerve roots in the neck? In the early 1990's I started getting a dull ache in my right arm which was accompanied by weakness of the little finger, almost certainly due to constriction of the foramina (holes) where the roots emerge from the spinal column. It became pretty hard to keep hold of the bow and I gave up most of my playing for several months.

Physiotherapy didn't help and neither did an MRI scan which didn't even reveal which side was affected. However, time is a great healer and after a year I was pretty well back to normal. 20-odd years later it hasn't recurred in spite of gloomy prognostications from the neurosurgeons.

July 12, 2018, 11:46 AM · I had left-arm ulnar nerve compression when I was in my twenties, the result of leaning on my elbow when I was typing at work. That significantly affected the reaction time of my third and fourth fingers, and gave me carpal tunnel syndrome-like tingling.

I wore a brace for a while, stayed careful not to lean, and eventually recovered.

Edited: July 12, 2018, 12:55 PM · Thomas, what you need is not an online forum (of well-wishers), but a specialist / neurologist, sports medicine doctor and physiotherapist.
It can be a transient problem or a symptom with a more serious root cause and possible long-term implications if neglected / not addressed properly.
It could be compression, impingement or something else. Sometimes nerve flossing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d85QKyWvrbI) is all you need, in other cases (compression) flossing alone may be counter-productive.
I would strongly advise to stop the offending activity; typing, violin playing or anything else until you figure out what is going on. Abstain from NSAID medications.
Edited: July 12, 2018, 12:48 PM · Flossing? Wow I never heard of that before. But I know about nerve tubes. I got "viola neck" a couple of years ago and the physical therapist explained it all to me using pictures in an anatomy textbook.

My right hand hurts today and it took me an hour to figure out why. Because yesterday I made 3 kg of pesto sauce and I strained my hand cubing up the parmesan and romano wedges so that I could grate them up in my food processor. Got a nice blister on the inside of my index finger from the top of my chef knife too. It's weird how you can hurt yourself doing simple stuff. And on top of that I've got a violin lesson later. Well, at least now I have something on which to blame my weak spiccato.

But I agree with Rocky. Get thee to the right doctor. The doctor will give you a prescription for PT if that's what you need.

July 12, 2018, 2:58 PM · I agree - get to a doctor, probably a neurologist. In 1990 I rather suddenly developed regions of paralysis in my left arm and hand that turned out to be due to compression of three different cervical (neck) vertebrae. It took a year before I could even attempt to play a violin again. My neurologist told me there was no exercise or physical therapy that would cure my condition and that surgery might be necessary but he wanted to wait at least 6 months to see how it developed. (He had previously helped me with simple exercises to help me with herniated lumbar disk pain.)

We had just purchased a La-Z-Boy reclining chair to help my wife recover from back pain. I got the use of that chair for the next 2 weeks and could tell it was helping my paralysis, so we bought the mate to that chair and then we each had one. I sat in that chair for hours every day and slept in it at night. Although the paralysis resolved itself over several months so I never needed the surgery, it was a full year before I could attempt violin playing again - and even then I had difficulty getting the right nerve impulses resolved between my 3rd and 4th finger. I was able to get back to cell o playing sooner because of the different way the left hand is used on that instrument - still it took several years to recover my cello vibrato. My violin arm vibrato has never returned, but I have developed wrist and finger vibratos to compensate on violin and viola.

I am not sure exactly what caused my cervical nerveproblems; there were two possibilities at that time:

1. I had just started to play a new violin whose neck had a cross section slightly more circular than the more typical elliptical shape. That distorted the angles of my left thumb and index finger and I was playing that new violin a lot!! I fixed that neck about 10 years later.

2. I was spending a lot of time traveling for work at that time and doing a lot of my "office work" at night across hotel king sized beds instead of desks, so I was stretching my body in unusual ways.

July 12, 2018, 3:22 PM · Andrew and Thomas - I don't think you need look to find a cause for problems of this kind. Cervical spondylosis is pretty well universal in the middle-aged and older, but unless it involves the spinal cord (causes symptoms in the lower body and legs) it's usually best left to nature to provide relief.
July 12, 2018, 6:31 PM · Ulnar nerve constriction is at the elbow and will manifest as numbness or tingling in the two outer fingers on each hand. I've had it. I try to sleep with my arms straight, not bent. After consulting with a neurologist, I've found that keeping my arms straight at night helps. I don't know how old the OP is. I first encountered this issue at around age 50.
July 17, 2018, 7:04 PM · Doctor here. First off, why do you think it's "nerve pain," as opposed to just pain? I have pain on my wrist, thumb side. It's tendonitis.

What makes you call it nerve pain?

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