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Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome of the Wrist

Ulnar tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve is compressed at the wrist. The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves that provide feeling and function to the hand. It travels from your neck down into your hand, and can be constricted in several places along the way.

When pressure on the nerve occurs at the wrist, it causes numbness and tingling in the little finger and along the outside of the ring finger. In addition, ulnar tunnel syndrome can sometimes cause weakness of hand pinch and grip.


The most common cause of ulnar tunnel syndrome is a soft tissue tumor, usually a benign (noncancerous) cyst called a ganglion which originates from the wrist joint.

Other frequent causes are repetitive trauma or chronic pressure applied to the area of the hand. Repetitive trauma can result from the use of a jackhammer. Chronic pressure can occur in the hand of a bicyclist against the handlebars.

Ulnar tunnel syndrome can result from chronic pressure on the nerve in the area of the hand highlighted above.
Courtesy of Griffin LY (ed): Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care. 3rd Ed. Rosemont, IL. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2005


Symptoms develop gradually. Weakness and increasing numbness, particularly on the little finger side of the hand are usual signs of ulnar tunnel syndrome. The degree of weakness and numbness depends on the location of the pressure point. Pain may or may not be present.

As the syndrome progresses, it may become more difficult to open jars, hold objects, or coordinate the fingers during such tasks as typing or playing a musical instrument.

Contact Parkland's hand specialists to receive comprehensive evaluation and management for hand and wrist problems.

For an appointment, please call 214-590-1920 to speak with a care coordinator who will quickly arrange a visit with one of our specialists to help with your problem.