As the adrenaline rush intensifies along with a burst of excitement, video gamers often hit their elbows against their game chairs at such a high impact, but this doesn’t seem to bother them as long as they’re beating their opponents hard. They just couldn’t get off of their hold on the game. But the harder they could get their opponent down, the harder they hit their elbows against their chairs. And after long hours of continuously playing the game, one would notice how many times they would shake their hands and rub their fingers with each other, while almost losing their grip on the controller. They’re beginning to feel a numb hand, or starting to unfeel a hand, most especially on the inside of the hand. They hit a nerve and developed Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.
The ulnar nerve is the second most commonly injured nerve in the upper limb after Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which involves the median nerve. Although injury to the ulnar nerve may occur at different parts along its course in the arm, it is commonly entrapped at the elbow, within the cubital tunnel.
Relevant Anatomy of the Elbow: The Cubital Tunnel
At your elbow, the ulnar nerve runs through the structures that make up the cubital tunnel, namely the medial epicondyle, the bony bump on the inner side of the elbow, and olecranon process, the bony projection at the back of the elbow, on either side of the tunnel, Osborne's ligament as the roof, and the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and elbow joint capsule as the tunnel floor. After crossing the cubital tunnel, the ulnar nerve enters the forearm between the two heads of flexor carpi ulnaris muscle. This is where the most common site of ulnar nerve compression occurs, although reports showed that the ulnar nerve can be maximally compressed between Osborne's ligaments and the MCL in this tunnel at 135 degrees of elbow flexion. The muscles that are supplied by the ulnar nerve and their corresponding functions are as follows:
Sensory Functions:The ulnar nerve supplies sensation to the inner half of the palm and the back of the hand, including the whole of the little finger and inner half of the ring finger.
How Would a Gamer Get Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?
At the inside of your elbow, the ulnar nerve passes in between the two bony humps beneath the Osborne’s ligament. When the ulnar nerve is hit here by a direct impact on the elbow, one would feel pain, numbness, and electric-shock sensation that radiates down to the forearm on the inside to the little finger and inner side of the ring finger. This is the area where the widely known “hitting the funny bone” is located.
When Gamers lean their elbows on their game chairs or desks for long periods, the ulnar nerve may be compressed as it passes through the cubital tunnel, such as the term cubital tunnel syndrome or ulnar neuritis. Also, when a gamer repeatedly bends his elbow or held his elbow in a bent position for an extended time, the nerve can be entrapped or compressed between the two heads of the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle.
In some people, the nerve may slide out from behind the medial epicondyle when the elbow is bent, which may irritate the nerve.
Signs and Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Unlike carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a well-known nerve compression condition, cubital tunnel syndrome is less common, although it occurs at a moderate frequency. Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include:
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Preventive Measures for Gamers
Both PC and console gamers can do things to help prevent, relieve, or minimize symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome:
Ulnar Gliding Exercise:These exercises mobilize the ulnar nerve and encourage movement through the cubital tunnel.
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The focus of treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome is relieving the pressure on the ulnar nerve through mobilization. Working up the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle and other wrist flexors can also decrease tension in this area.
Precaution:Observe caution with the use of a massage gun when performing the treatment in this region where pressure is applied near the cubital tunnel. You might put additional pressure on the nerve, which may exacerbate the condition.