Synergy Health Partners

Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome


Ulnar tunnel syndrome, also known as Guyon’s canal syndrome, is a condition caused by compression of the ulnar nerve as it passes through the Guyon’s canal in the wrist. This syndrome leads to numbness, tingling, and weakness in the ring and little fingers.


Several factors can contribute to the development of ulnar tunnel syndrome, including:

  • Repetitive Motion: Activities that involve repetitive wrist and hand movements, such as cycling or using vibrating tools.
  • Trauma: Wrist injuries, fractures, or dislocations that compress the ulnar nerve.
  • Anatomical Variations: Structural abnormalities in the Guyon’s canal.
  • Cysts or Tumors: Growths within the canal that press on the nerve.
  • Arthritis: Joint inflammation that affects the canal and surrounding structures.


Symptoms of ulnar tunnel syndrome often develop gradually and can include:

  • Numbness and tingling in the ring and little fingers.
  • Weakness in the hand, especially when gripping objects.
  • Clumsiness and difficulty with fine motor tasks.
  • Pain in the wrist and hand, which may worsen with activity.
  • Muscle wasting in severe or long-standing cases.


Diagnosis of ulnar tunnel syndrome involves a thorough clinical evaluation and diagnostic tests:

  • Medical History and Physical Examination: Assessment of symptoms, medical history, and physical examination to identify signs of nerve compression.
  • Nerve Conduction Studies and Electromyography (EMG): Tests to evaluate nerve function and identify the location and extent of nerve compression.
  • Imaging Studies: X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound to visualize the structures of the wrist and identify any abnormalities contributing to the compression.


Treatment options depend on the severity of symptoms and the underlying cause of the nerve compression:

  • Non-Surgical Treatment:

    • Rest and Activity Modification: Avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms.
    • Splinting: Wearing a wrist splint to keep the wrist in a neutral position and reduce pressure on the nerve.
    • Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation.
    • Physical Therapy: Exercises to improve wrist strength and flexibility, and techniques to modify activities that contribute to symptoms.
    • Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and swelling around the nerve.
  • Surgical Treatment:

    • Decompression Surgery: Releasing the pressure on the ulnar nerve by enlarging the Guyon’s canal or removing any structures causing compression, such as cysts or bone spurs.


The prognosis for ulnar tunnel syndrome is generally good, especially when diagnosed early and treated appropriately. Non-surgical treatments are often effective in relieving symptoms and preventing further nerve damage. In cases where surgery is necessary, most patients experience significant improvement in symptoms and hand function.


Preventing ulnar tunnel syndrome involves minimizing risk factors and protecting the wrist from excessive strain:

  • Ergonomic Adjustments: Modifying workstations and tools to reduce strain on the wrist.
  • Avoiding Repetitive Motions: Taking regular breaks and varying activities to avoid repetitive strain.
  • Protecting the Wrist: Using wrist guards or padding during activities that place pressure on the wrist, such as cycling.
  • Strengthening Exercises: Performing exercises to strengthen the wrist and hand muscles, improving overall resilience to strain.


Ulnar tunnel syndrome is a condition that can significantly impact hand function and quality of life. Early recognition and appropriate management are crucial for preventing permanent nerve damage and maintaining hand functionality. If you experience persistent numbness, tingling, or weakness in the hand, consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan.