Ulnar Nerve Release Surgery

The ulnar nerve goes around the rear of the inner elbow, an area referred to as the funny bone. The ulnar nerve then goes through a tight tunnel between your forearm muscles. Ulnar nerve compression results in numbness in your ring and little fingers, though it can be resolved by ulnar nerve release surgery.

This page is only for informational purposes and is not a substitute for advice from a qualified medical professional.

What does surgery involve?

Before surgery you will have a consultation with a surgeon to ask any questions about the procedure, which prevents further damage to the nerve. If you have the operation in a timely fashion, any instance of numbness in the hand may improve.

The operation can take up to three-quarters of an hour and a variety of anaesthetic techniques can be employed.

Your surgeon will cut any tight tissue that is compressing the nerve over the back of your elbow on the inner side. Sometimes a piece of bone is removed, or a nerve is shifted to lie in front of the elbow.

What are the alternatives?

With mild symptoms which are mostly confined to the night, a splint may help to hold your elbow straight in bed.

General complications of surgery

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring

Specific complications

  • Continued numbness in your fingers
  • Return of numbness
  • Numbness just below the tip of your elbow
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the arm

Recovery time

You should be able to go home the same day. Keep your arm elevated for the first couple of days. It is important to gently exercise your fingers, elbow and shoulder to prevent getting stiff.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities. Before exercising, ask a healthcare professional or your General Practitioner for their advice. Your symptoms may continue to improve for up to six months after surgery.