Sometimes all you want to know is if something is serious or not. Experiencing any numbness or tingling in the hands can be worrisome for sure. Many people assume that these symptoms are caused by carpal tunnel syndrome but if you’re experiencing numbness in your pinky finger and half your ring finger it could be cubital tunnel syndrome. While we always suggest you seek medical care at the onset of any new symptoms, sometimes you just need to know how much to worry. So, today we’ll address numbness in the right or left pinky finger and ring finger, a possible cause, and treatment options.
Ever hit your funny bone? That tingling, numbness, and pain in the little finger, ring finger, and elbow are the symptoms we’re addressing. That numbness in the inside of the hand can develop into pain over time. Symptoms may be more pronounced in the morning, after repetitive arm movement, or after having the elbow bent for a long period of time.
Although there could be any number of causes for numb pinky fingers a common cause is cubital tunnel syndrome. Cubital tunnel syndrome is caused when the ulnar nerve becomes trapped. This nerve travels from the side of the neck passes through the inside of the elbow to the hand; it can become trapped on the inside of the elbow–this is what causes that tingling sensation. You could be trapping the ulnar nerve at the elbow if you:
- sleep with your hand under the pillow
- use a computer often
- talk on the phone a lot
- bend your elbow(s) for long periods of time
- rest your elbow(s) on hard surfaces often
If you are experiencing numbness or tingling in the pinky and/or ring finger you should seek an assessment from a physiotherapist. When caught early, treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome is simple and straightforward with many patients seeing “90% success rate… with[in] 2-3 months”.[i] Non-surgical physiotherapy-focused treatments for cubital tunnel syndrome include:
- Joint mobilizations
- Neural flossing/gliding
- Strengthening/stretching exercises
- Activity modification
If caught and treated early and effectively you can see an improvement in symptoms within a relatively short period of time. If you think you might have cubital tunnel syndrome it’s best to book an appointment with a qualified physical therapist to get a full assessment and treatment plan in place– no doctor referral needed!*
*A doctor referral may be required to access your third party insurance