Any kind of pain in your body can be a nuisance. But how do you know when to visit a doctor or when you can do it at home? First, you have to really identify region the pain is coming from. Then you have to decide if it is a compressed ulnar nerve, median nerve or something else like tendonitis.

If you know it is a compressed nerve, there are many things that you can do to treat the issue without surgery. No one wants to have surgery do they? Physical therapy is one way to treat your nerve pain, among others.

What Is the Ulnar Nerve and Where Is It Located?

hands holding the knee to check ulnar nerve pain

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The ulnar nerve stems from your neck and branches out from the C6-C7 discs and runs the length of your arm. This nerve is what gives you sensation in your pinky finger and about half of your ring finger.

As the ulnar nerve comes out of the disks in your neck, it travels down the inside of your arm, all the way to your fingers. It passes through the cubital tunnel at the inside of the elbow. Then proceeds through the tunnel of Guyon at the wrist. Where it finally branches to your pinky finger, and part of your ring finger.

When the ulnar nerve is pinched, you may feel numbness, tingling or pain in the shoulders, the elbow or wrist. You may also feel this numbness in the pinky finger and ring finger.

How Does Ulnar Nerve Pain Happen?

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You can compress the ulnar nerve rather easily. There are different ways that you can compress this nerve:

  • Keeping your elbow in a bent position for too long. Like when we use our cells phones too long – or even if you sleep with your elbows bent.
  • Leaning on your elbows for too long will do the trick too. We do this when we are at our computers working. We even do it at the dinner table and we are talking, we’ll lean in and rest our elbows on the table.
  • A direct blow or hit to your elbow against something and you get that “hit the funny bone” feeling.

How to Treat Ulnar Nerve Pain

So now that you have it – how do you treat ulnar nerve pain? There are many exercises that you can do at home to treat ulnar nerve pain.

Home Remedies:

home relaxing

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  • Avoid bending your elbow for any length of time.
  • Avoid leaning on or applying pressure to the elbow.
  • Try to keep your elbow straight at night when you sleep. Use pillows or a towel to assist you in keeping your arm straight at night.
  • Immobilize the elbow using an elastic bandage or an elbow splint.
  • Rest – you need to stop irritating the affected area.
  • Heat – to relax the muscles.
  • Ice – to reduce inflammation.
  • Stretches.
  • Over the counter pain medications.
  • Topical pain relief creams.

Tab Taping: (you will need medical tape and leukotape from a pharmacy)

  1. 1
    Clean the skin and apply the cover tape. The cover tape should be longer than the leukotape. Apply the cover tape at the elbow near the crease of the inner elbow.
  2. 2
    Cut a section of the leukotape about three inches in length. At the center of the cut tape for a tab – stick together about one inch to half and inch at the center.
  3. 3
    Apply the leukotape to the elbow area on top of the cover tape.
  4. 4
    Then gently pull the “tab” in one direction, if you feel relief from the pain, then tape the tab down.
  5. 5
    It is important that you use the cover tape on your skin. The leukotape is so sticky that when you try to pull it off, you could lose some of your skin.

Ulnar Nerve Exercises

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You should do these exercises once a day, or every other day. Physical therapists will tell you that if you over-do it on the exercises – you will inflame the nerve even more. When doing the exercises, you should feel the nerve stretch. Listen to your body, if you feel pain, stop.

  1. 1
    Hold the afflicted arm in front of you at chest height.
  2. 2
    Bend the elbow until it is at a 90 degree angle with your palm facing you.
  3. 3
    Using your other hand grasp the ring and pinky finger of your hand.
  4. 4
    Slowly bend your wrist back and away from your face and take the arm downward.
  5. 5
    As you lower the arm, drop your chin towards your chest
  6. 6
    Repeat this exercise five to ten times.
microscopic image of the nerves

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  1. 1
    Hold the arm with the pain in front of you at chest height.
  2. 2
    Bend the elbow until it is at a 90 degree angle with your palm facing you.
  3. 3
    Using your other hand grasp the ring and pinky finger of your hand.
  4. 4
    Slowly bend your wrist back and away from your face and take the arm downward.
  5. 5
    As you lower the arm, raise your chin up and push your head backwards.
  6. 6
    Repeat this exercise five to ten times.
hands

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  1. 1
    Take the affected arm and put it out to your side.
  2. 2
    Palm out.
  3. 3
    Lift your arm so that your palm is going to snug against your ear.
  4. 4
    For added stretch, tilt your head in the direction of the opposite shoulder.
  5. 5
    Release the stretch and gently lower your arm to it’s starting position at your side.
  6. 6
    Repeat this exercise up to five times.
mask

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  1. 1
    Take your hands in front of you, palms facing out and make the “OK” sign using your thumb and index finger with each hand.
  2. 2
    Rotate your hands so the “O” is upside down.
  3. 3
    Place the “O” around your eyes to create a mask.
  4. 4
    Make sure your fingers are firmly against your face.
  5. 5
    Try to keep your elbows pointing up toward the ceiling.
  6. 6
    Tilt your body to one side and then tilt to the other side.
  7. 7
    Repeat this exercise ten times.
plate

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  1. 1
    Stand with a plate upraised in your hand with the palm up.
  2. 2
    Take the plate down.
  3. 3
    Move it under your arm
  4. 4
    While rotating your wrist and elbow, to maintain the balance of the plate and bring it around and over your head.
  5. 5
    Finish the movement with the plate in the starting position.
  6. 6
    Repeat this exercise five to ten times – every other day.

This is a great exercise not only for working your ulnar nerve but also working on your coordination. Do not be surprised if you do not get it on the first few tries. It might take some time to get used to the motions.

  1. 1
    Using the affected arm, stand with your hand down by your side – palm facing your front.
  2. 2
    Tilt your head toward the affected arm.
  3. 3
    Bend the elbow up – raising it as you go, keeping your palm flat.
  4. 4
    Extend the palm – the hand should be back a bit, as if you were holding a tray or plate in the air.
  5. 5
    Gently lower the elbow/arm back into your starting position.
  6. 6
    Repeat this exercise ten times. Once a day.
woman's back

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  1. 1
    Hold arm straight down, elbow straight.
  2. 2
    Palm facing your thigh.
  3. 3
    Form a fist with your hand and gently curl the fist – using only the wrist – toward your body.
  4. 4
    Then slowly rotate the wrist towards your back while pushing your arm back as well.
  5. 5
    As you rotate your wrist to the back lean your head to the opposite side of your body.
  6. 6
    Repeat this exercise ten times, once a day.
man doing tai chi moves

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  1. 1
    Arm at 90 degree angle in front of your chest, palm facing your chest
  2. 2
    Rotate the palm facing the floor as you move the arm away from your chest slowly.
  3. 3
    Gently rotate your hand – palm facing your chest and glide your arm back to the starting position.
  4. 4
    Then slowly rotate the wrist towards your back while pushing your arm back as well.
  5. 5
    As you continue, when you extend your hand, try to lift it a bit higher.
  6. 6
    Repeat this motion 10 to 15 times.
beach

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  1. 1
    Get a bucket and fill it with sand.
  2. 2
    Place some kind of toys like marbles into the sand and bury them.
  3. 3
    Start digging into the sand. Find the objects using only your fingers and wrists to provide movement.
  4. 4
    As you find the objects pull them out.

This exercise will move the nerve through the Gunyon tunnel in your wrist.  It will help to provide the rehabilitation you need for your ulnar nerve.

These exercises will gently stretch the ulnar nerve to relax it and help reduce the pain. As with any nerve pain exercises, the pain will not go away immediately. You have to be consistent and continue the exercises daily. The nerve pain should ease and fade over time. If the pain in your arm does not stop or increases, you should seek professional help with your doctor.

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