If you notice pain through your hand and wrist, you might assume that it’s carpal tunnel syndrome. After all, that’s a very common diagnosis that gets a lot of attention. In reality, though, there are quite a few other issues that could be responsible for your symptoms. One of the most primary of these is a condition that few people have heard about: cubital tunnel syndrome.
Cubital vs. Carpal: What’s the Difference?
Both cubital and carpal tunnel syndrome can cause numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers. However, the causes of these symptoms are very different in the two conditions.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the wrist.
- Cubital tunnel syndrome is also due to nerve compression, but the nerve in question is the ulnar nerve, which is located at the elbow.
One sign that your symptoms could be cubital rather than carpal tunnel syndrome is the location of the paresthesia (the prickling sensation, or the feeling when a part of your body “falls asleep”). In carpal tunnel syndrome, this is generally limited to the thumb and first few fingers. Those with cubital tunnel syndrome will feel the symptoms in the ring and pinky finger instead.
As tempting as it may be to diagnose and even treat yourself for hand or wrist problems, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a hand and wrist surgeon for a professional evaluation instead. No matter how similar the names of these conditions may sound, treating your symptoms incorrectly on your own due to a wrong diagnosis could end up exacerbating the problem.