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  1. #1
    Registered User blackjack3694's Avatar
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    Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and bodybuilding?

    The other day I noticed my ring and little finger were tingling, like they were asleep. Later on my elbow made a popping sound, and it felt like I hit my funny bone. I'll be seeing a doctor tomorrow, but from what I've heard and read it sounds like I have cubital tunnel syndrome. If anyone has had this problem before, could you tell me if bodybuilding is done for me? I've read all the articles I could find through searches, but none of them really stated if this would be a rest of my life problem, or anything about sports after injury. Any response, good or bad news, would be appreciated.
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    Registered User psdevere's Avatar
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    haha... gosh... I feel your pain my man...

    My ring and pinkie have been numb and tingling for a week now. I have researched medical journals for hours. I visited the doc today and didn't learn anything more than what I picked up from google.

    The verdict appears to be 'ulnar nerve dislocation' along with 'snapping tricep.' I'm not lifting and hoping the tingling goes away, then hoping it will not come back once I resume lifting (but I'm afraid it probably will).
    http://66.102.1.104/scholar?hl=en&lr...t/spinner.pdf+

    Both the ulnar nerve and the medial head of the tricep 'snap' across the inner elbow bone (medial epicondyle) when you bend your arm around 90 degrees. They are NOT supposed to migrate across this pointy bone.

    From what I have read, it appears the only long-term cure is surgery where they re-route your ulnar nerve, detach the medial tricep, weave it under the main tricep tendon, and re-attach it. Three months recovery, but good to go after that supposedly. I DO NOT want to have surgery but I'm afraid it may be the only way...

    I would like to know (and I'm sure the OP does as well), if anyone has had this exact problem, and what the result was. Did the finger tingling go away? Did it come back once you started lifting again? Did you have to get surgery?

    Pleaseee someone respond- I need to hear that surgery is not the only way.
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  3. #3
    Registered User blackjack3694's Avatar
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    Yeah, I saw that surgery seemed like the only reasonable fix. Other nonsurgical fixes said that you would have to modify daily activities. No lifting, no guitar, no sports. That dosen't sound like much fun to live with that. =/
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    Physiotherapist Fresch's Avatar
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    Option B is to use some methods to mobilise the nerve, as it can get "stuck" along its course form the neck to the finger.

    Incorporating nerve-gliding techniques in the conservative treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome.Coppieters MW, Bartholomeeusen KE, Stappaerts KH.
    Department of Physiotherapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Australia. m.coppieters@shrs.uq.edu.au

    OBJECTIVE: To discuss the diagnosis and treatment of a patient with cubital tunnel syndrome and to illustrate novel treatment modalities for the ulnar nerve and its surrounding structures and target tissues. The rationale for the addition of nerve-gliding techniques will be highlighted. CLINICAL FEATURES: Two months after onset, a 17-year-old female nursing student who had a traumatic onset of cubital tunnel syndrome still experienced pain around the elbow and paresthesia in the ulnar nerve distribution. Electrodiagnostic tests were negative. Segmental cervicothoracic motion dysfunctions were present which were regarded as contributing factors hindering natural recovery. INTERVENTION AND OUTCOMES: After 6 sessions consisting of nerve-gliding techniques and segmental joint manipulation and a home exercise program consisting of nerve gliding and light free-weight exercises, a substantial improvement was recorded on both the impairment and functional level (pain scales, clinical tests, and Northwick Park Questionnaire). Symptoms did not recur within a 10-month follow-up period, and pain and disability had completely resolved. CONCLUSIONS: Movement-based management may be beneficial in the conservative management of cubital tunnel syndrome. As this intervention is in contrast with the traditional recommendation of immobilization, comparing the effects of both interventions in a systematic way is an essential next step to determine the optimal treatment of patients with cubital tunnel syndrome.

    PMID: 15614243 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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    Registered User psdevere's Avatar
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    thanks for the post, but I think that case is different. Our ulnar nerves are dislocating across the epicondyle bone. Hers is just getting stuck or trapped in the tunnel/groove where the nerve is supposed to be. I don't think gliding techniques can save us unfortunately.


    I searched this issue, and there are tons of threads on ulnar nerve/finger numbness/tricep snapping....

    There's gotta be SOMEBODY who has had this problem in the past who can give an update as to the eventual outcome...


    As a side note, part of me is wondering if the nerve may actually be irritated in my wrist (guyons syndrome) rather than my elbow. I mean, I KNOW that I have the tricep snap and the ulnar nerve dislocation around the epicondyle, but maybe that is not actually the problem. My gloves are worn useless and maybe the pressure from a heavy shoulder press day compressed my wrist and irritated the nerve in my palm...

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I could not find a single outcome of this issue using the search feature. Thanks
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  6. #6
    Physiotherapist Fresch's Avatar
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    However, the reason it might be dislocating is because of an inability to glide properly.

    You have to ask why did this condition suddenly start: did you bone suddenly get longer? Why has it been ok for the past 10-20 years? What suddenly changed to make the nerve jump out? Tightness - which can be caused by muscle growth - may cause the muscle to suddenly stop gliding properly, and so to suddenly start dislocating or jumping out of the tunnel.
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    Registered User BrownsTown's Avatar
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    I had the surgery about 2 months ago. Still have some tingling but seems to be getting better. Lifting doesnt seem to bother it anymore but my other arm which i still have symptoms in gets worse so looks like I might have to have it done on the other arm. Your doc might have you try conservative treatment by splinting your arm at night. This did help but didnt quite stop all my symptoms. here is the best article ive found on the subject:
    http://www.emedicine.com/orthoped/topic479.htm
    Oh also my doc had me on immediate range of motion so i was back to normal daily activities in one month not the three months you see in some articles.
    Hope your doc gives you some good news
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    Registered User psdevere's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Fresch View Post
    However, the reason it might be dislocating is because of an inability to glide properly.

    You have to ask why did this condition suddenly start: did you bone suddenly get longer? Why has it been ok for the past 10-20 years? What suddenly changed to make the nerve jump out? Tightness - which can be caused by muscle growth - may cause the muscle to suddenly stop gliding properly, and so to suddenly start dislocating or jumping out of the tunnel.
    Thats true, I don't mean to dismiss your suggestion.

    I've read that as many as 20% of people have dislocating ulnar nerves, and it just doesn't cause a problem. That link I posted is about a lifter with snapping triceps who also seemed to be asymptomatic for years before the nerve became irritated. I know my tricep has been snapping for years so I'm assuming the nerve has been as well. Thats the only reason I tend to think what you are saying may not apply to me. You're right though, I have seen no good explanation as to why the nerve would spontaneously become irritated if it has been snapping with the tricep for years...

    The thing is, I have not heard of a way to stop your tricep from snapping, and it is the tricep which drags the ulnar nerve across the epicondyle. So I don't think I can ever make my ulnar nerve stay in the groove at this point... which is another reason I don't think your suggestion would help... but I'm obviously no doc
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  9. #9
    Registered User psdevere's Avatar
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    Anyone here have numb fingers in the past (ulnar nerve irritation) and get the issue resolved??
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    Registered User onslaught61's Avatar
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    unfortunately, there's nothing KNOWN that you can do non-surgically for snapping triceps, which is the most likely root of many weightlifters' ulnar nerve problems. I've had a little tingling before, but I realized it was due to snapping triceps while weightlifting. In my opinion, the ulnar nerve is the least of your worries, snapping triceps is where the real problem is, cause ask any doctor, there's not much known information about how to solve the problem non-surgically. So, for now, you're pretty much stuck with it for the rest of your life unless you get surgery.
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  11. #11
    Registered User psdevere's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by onslaught61 View Post
    unfortunately, there's nothing KNOWN that you can do non-surgically for snapping triceps, which is the most likely root of many weightlifters' ulnar nerve problems. I've had a little tingling before, but I realized it was due to snapping triceps while weightlifting. In my opinion, the ulnar nerve is the least of your worries, snapping triceps is where the real problem is, cause ask any doctor, there's not much known information about how to solve the problem non-surgically. So, for now, you're pretty much stuck with it for the rest of your life unless you get surgery.
    Well the question I'm desperately trying to find an answer to is whether the ulnar nerve problem will go away despite the fact that the snapping tricep remains. Or will the snapping tricep irritate my ulnar nerve as soon as I begin to lift again?

    If you have snapping tricep and have experienced ulnar nerve tingling, I'd greatly appreciate more details regarding your present status. It sounds like your tingling went away and you are able to lift again despite snapping tricep?
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  12. #12
    Registered User psdevere's Avatar
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    Hey all,

    I originally posted here to find out if my ulnar nerve problem would go away (numb fingers).

    I wanted to add another post here now saying that the numb fingers HAVE gone away. Took 3 weeks. Now when someone else searches for this problem they will have the answer I was desperately looking for when my fingers wouldn't stop tingling.

    Now that I have that out of the way, I may as well ask my new question:

    The tingling is gone, but I tried to do dumbbell shoulder press and my tricep was snapping dramatically. I know that it has snapped in the past, cause I would randomly notice it, but for the most part I have not noticed it at all for the better part of 5 years.

    Does anyone know if the tricep snapping will recede, or if it will cause my ulnar nerve problem to come back? If the snapping happens to not irritate the nerve, will it cause some other form of damage to the tricep tendon directly?

    Anyone with a snapping tricep that pops (visibly, audibly) please help.

    Thanks
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    Registered User mirkocrocop's Avatar
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    Yup, I have had this for 4 years now - torn tricep, cubital tunnel, snapping tri and finger numbness. Seen many docs and all they recommended was PT and rest. Of course there was surgery but I am a NO SURGERY type of guy. Took 9 months off BB altogether, had 2 months of PT. Felt truly depressed during this time :-(. Lost all hard earned muscle, lots of confidence and power in my arms. Recovery was slow and now I am maybe 50-60 percent of what I used to be before the injury. I am able to workout with light weights but I do know I will NEVER BE THE SAME.

    Bodybuilding = Temporary results and joy, but lifelong injuries and frustration. At least in my case :-(
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    I also have this. It started in my right elbow actually, and I also had an inflamed nerve bundle (Brachial Plexus) in my shoulder. This happened in August of 2007, and I think it was from a combination of frequent typing, sleeping with my arms folded, and weight lifting.

    Anyway, it got so bad in my right arm that the muscles in my hand started to atrophy. I am still going to physical therapy to rebuild the strength in my right hand. It's almost better, but there was a point were I couldn't generate enough pressure to wipe my own ass. That was terrible.

    When the right arm started improving, I tried working out again. The good news was that my right arm did just fine. Unfortunately, my left elbow acted up and I got tingling in my pinky. So I stopped working out again.

    I tried working out again last week, as my left arm is better. But I think I still have healing left to do, as it became irritated again. So lifting is out of the question. I have some tenderness in the elbow, which comes and goes. But the general progression is towards the latter.

    Now, the long term fix for this isn't necessarily surgery. It can, and in most cases will, heal on its own. Nerves take a long time to heal. Just be patient and you'll be OK. But talk to a neurologist and get a medical opinion.
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    Registered User indiedawn's Avatar
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    Ulnar nerve surgery

    Hi, I had ulnar nerve release surgery about 6 months ago. it was the best thing I ever did.
    After working out for many years, albeight light weights, my pinky and ring finger went numb and continued to get worse. I tried PT for several months. Finally went for surgery and now am completely cured. I ended up having just release not transposed surgery. I wish i had done it from the start.
    now I'm wondering if I can lift weights again. . . just lightly any ideas?
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    Registered User rspowers's Avatar
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    what did you doc say you had? I was originally diagnosed with Cubital tunnel syndrome from tingling in hand that extended into forearm and a sharp pain in elbow. Went to PT and strengthened up my muscles and tendons in my wrist and elbow. Talked to an ortho a few months later and he told me he thought i probably had tricep tendonitis that was swollen and pinching the ulnar nerve, not an actually CTS. Anyway, after resting it, no more leaning on my computer chair etc, it went away in about 6-8 weeks.
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    Registered User rspowers's Avatar
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    what did your doc say you had? I was originally diagnosed with Cubital tunnel syndrome from tingling in hand that extended into forearm and a sharp pain in elbow. Went to PT and strengthened up my muscles and tendons in my wrist and elbow. Did lots and lots of stretching. Talked to an ortho a few months later and he told me he thought i probably had tricep tendonitis that was swollen and pinching the ulnar nerve, not an actually CTS. Anyway, after resting it, no more leaning on my computer chair etc, it went away in about 8 weeks.
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    cubital

    I was diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome. but I think it's different for everyone. I had it really bad. .. swollen fingers and hand. however, i still would recomend surgery for anyone that has it to the point of it being an obstacle. some people may be able to deal with physical therapy. if you do, be sure to see a certified hand therapist , not just a regular therapist. also if you need surgery see a specialist.

    believe me, anytime you have a very specific injury, see a specialist. don't mess with this.
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    Registered User indiedawn's Avatar
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    diagnosis

    Also, it doesn't quite sound like you have cubital tunnel. it entails numbness in the pinky and ring finger.
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    I just stared experiencing the electrical shock running from my elbow to my ring and pinky finger.
    All I do is type all day and I don't know what to do since I refuse to have the surgery.

    My Cubital Tunnel Sydrome is only mild.
    The doctor told me to try the conservative thing and wait four months, but I am dying of impatience.
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    Physiotherapist Fresch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by elpcmaster View Post
    I just stared experiencing the electrical shock running from my elbow to my ring and pinky finger.
    All I do is type all day and I don't know what to do since I refuse to have the surgery.

    My Cubital Tunnel Sydrome is only mild.
    The doctor told me to try the conservative thing and wait four months, but I am dying of impatience.
    What is going to happen in the 4 months you are waiting????
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    You need to be careful with subluxing ulnar nerve/medial triceps snapping. If you irritate the nerve too much, it will continue to ache and cause numbness and tingling unless you get surgery. The snapping won't go away on its own and is actually aggravated by the extra bulk that comes from bodybuilding. If you're lucky, you'll have a choice between curtailed workouts from now on or surgery to correct the problem.

    If it comes to surgery, most elbow surgeons will recommend either subcutaneous or submuscular ulnar transposition with triceps myopexy. That means the ulnar nerve is moved anteriorly to the other side of the medial epicondyle and placed either under the fat or under the muscle. To get under the muscle, they have to incise the common forearm flexor muscles just distal to the epicondyle and then sew them back together. Then they'll cut away the extra triceps bulk that's moving over the bone.

    I had my left nerve transposed in November 2006. Recovery was long and painful. I'm still recovering. Nerve injury takes a long time to heal. I'm going to get my right elbow done next month.

    If you unfortunately find yourself needing surgery, make very sure you get an elbow orthopedic surgeon who has had a lot of experience with this condition in weightlifters and not just run of the mill cubital tunnel syndrome. Otherwise, they may not know about having to cut away some triceps post-transposition, and you'll come out of surgery with more snapping than before.

    Don't believe anyone who compares this ulnar neuropathy and its surgery to the median nerve and carpal tunnel and predicts 100% success and quick return to grueling workouts. It can be very unpleasant. My own elbow surgeon has this condition and decided to limit his workout intensity and range rather than risk further aggravation and the surgery. That should give you some idea of how much those in the know avoid this cut.
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    Glad i found this thread. I've been having this too. both of my elbows 'pop' but only my left arm has problems with this.

    I don't think i have snapping triceps but what i do notice is that i dont get the impingement until i get the pump in my left tricep. After that, the smallest of weights will do it do me. Bench press and shoulder press/dips are the main causes for me.

    This has happened to me when i FIRST started working out a good 4 years ago, i stopped working out for like 2 years and recently just got back into it. Same **** and extremely depressing. It doesn't happen to me when im not working out though, it only comes as a 'shock' when im on the way up on pressing exercises.
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    The Keylock King Maximum's Avatar
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    WOW...I'm really glad I found this thread. Hopefully I can get a couple more answers from you guys. I get the shock and tingling in my hand, but it's from the elbow down. It started happening a month ago....I was shooting my first jumpshot of the year...as I raised the ball up by my face, I felt a small shock start from the bottom of my trapezius and flow down my right arm...but after that from my right elbow on down for a few hours felt tingly and slightly numb.

    The occurrances:
    -It happened twice from shooting jumpers in the past month.
    -I got caught in a triangle choke with my right arm caught...it aggravated it.
    -I was doing bear crawls today...and I felt it right away.

    Cubital tunnel syndrome guys? I don't like doctors...at least I don't like to go until I've done my homework. Anyone tell me if this sounds like what they have?
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    Registered User elpcmaster's Avatar
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    Well my family doctor diagnosed with diabetes.
    She said it was diabetic neuropathy.
    Now I am seeing a neurologist since hand doctors will not touch me since my symptoms are not surgery level.
    He is going to run all kinds of tests on me on this coming Thursday to determine if it is diabetic neuropathy or cubital tunnel syndrome.
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    Originally Posted by psdevere View Post
    As a side note, part of me is wondering if the nerve may actually be irritated in my wrist (guyons syndrome) rather than my elbow. I mean, I KNOW that I have the tricep snap and the ulnar nerve dislocation around the epicondyle, but maybe that is not actually the problem. My gloves are worn useless and maybe the pressure from a heavy shoulder press day compressed my wrist and irritated the nerve in my palm...
    For a long time, I thought I was getting carpal tunnel syndrome. Then I had two nerve conduction tests and came to realize it was actually "mild" cubital tunnel syndrome. It turns out the pressure on the nerve at the elbow was actually causing feelings of pressure in my wrist as well.
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    ometecuhtli2001 is offline
    Originally Posted by psdevere View Post
    Anyone here have numb fingers in the past (ulnar nerve irritation) and get the issue resolved??
    Yes. I had numb and tingly fingers (and hand) to the point where I couldn't brush my teeth sometimes in the morning. After some nerve conduction tests I got a semi-official diagnosis of cubital tunnel syndrome. Now when I go to bed I put some cushions on my elbows (it looks like I'm wearing water wings - not very cool but I'll make that sacrifice for my health!). Now when I'm sleeping my elbows are cushioned and my ulnar nerve doesn't get squished, and in the morning I can shave and brush my teeth. Yay!

    This "snapping tricep" thing is another story. I've had it on and off for about a year and a half. It's really intermittent. It happened just this morning as I was doing my shoulder routine and caused a *major* disruption. Unlike others here, there isn't any popping or pain - just a feeling of some pressure and something slipping over something else.
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    i have this too, it started a month and a half ago, i took a month off and it went away, then i started working out again a few days ago and it comes back instantly. for me its just one problem after another when it comes to health
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    First of all I know this thread is somewhat old and outdated but if anyone still is clueless or needs help I am dealing with similar issues (except for the tricep snapping I'm unfamiliar with.) I actually have cubital tunnel, carpal tunnel, radial tunnel, possibly even thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms all at the same time in both arms. Even though the symptoms are usually mild it does prevent me from doing much with my arms and it's quite frustrating. However since all I been doing is resting I decided to spend hours a day researching my issues and I've stumbled upon something known as Trigger point therapy.

    Wikipedia says: "Trigger points, also known as trigger sites or muscle knots, are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers."

    Basically I've found many of these trigger points all over my back, chest, arms, glutes, legs, neck...almost everywhere but they are hard to find and not very obvious until you search for them religiously. These trigger points I found have been wreaking having on my body and have been the cause of alot of problems and pain referred elsewhere. Do your research on this because many symptoms including carpal tunnel, cubital tunnel, headaches, migraines and many other pains (even throat pains) can be caused by these. Most likely what you guys are dealing with are trigger points that are affecting your triceps and ulnar nerves. You'd be surprised what you come up with and I advise you to do your own research on it. Look up the "Trigger Point Therapy Workbook" By Claire Davies. It will give you in-depth details and diagrams/images of known trigger points and what they can do to your body. Trust me on this it will save you alot of pain even if it isn't the cause of your ulnar problems you'll be happy you found the trigger points you have in your body hiding from you. If you have any questions about more details I can share them with you or message me personally.
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    Physiotherapist Fresch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ometecuhtli2001 View Post
    Yes. I had numb and tingly fingers (and hand) to the point where I couldn't brush my teeth sometimes in the morning. After some nerve conduction tests I got a semi-official diagnosis of cubital tunnel syndrome. Now when I go to bed I put some cushions on my elbows (it looks like I'm wearing water wings - not very cool but I'll make that sacrifice for my health!). Now when I'm sleeping my elbows are cushioned and my ulnar nerve doesn't get squished, and in the morning I can shave and brush my teeth. Yay!

    This "snapping tricep" thing is another story. I've had it on and off for about a year and a half. It's really intermittent. It happened just this morning as I was doing my shoulder routine and caused a *major* disruption. Unlike others here, there isn't any popping or pain - just a feeling of some pressure and something slipping over something else.
    I suspect that the snapping tricep and the cubital tunnel syndrome are related. In fact, the ulnar nerve can pop into and out of its groove and possibly cause the snap associated with being the triceps.
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