It might seem obvious that if you have a problem with a nerve, you would have surgery to treat it. But if it didn’t really bother you, could you just watch it? In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I answer that question for an injury to the ulnar nerve of the elbow, or a snapping nerve.

Rigers asks:
I have a subluxating ulnar nerve. I think it happened probably due to weight lifting. I don’t have any tingling, numbness or weakness in hand. Just sometimes I can feel the snapping and occasional discomfort in my elbow. As I don’t have any symptoms of nerve damage, in your opinion, should I consider surgery or not?

The ulnar nerve is the nerve that runs behind the medial epicondyle – or the bony prominence on the inside of the elbow. This is the nerve you hit when you hit your “funny bone.”

Some people develop problems with this nerve due to chronic pressure on the nerve in that part of the elbow. Baseball pitchers often have irritation of the nerve, but non-athletes can as well.

Location of snapping nerve of the elbow
The ulnar nerve runs behind the medial epicondyle on the inside of the elbow (orange arrow).

Another problem is the nerve snapping (or subluxing) back and forth across that bony prominence. The pain and tingling can really bother people with a snapping nerve. In this video, I discuss treatment options for a subluxing ulnar nerve.

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier – Ulnar nerve subluxation
Ask Dr. Geier – Should I get an x-ray or MRI?

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