Ulnar Nerve Transposition Surgery – Update 3

One of the most popular entries on my blog is my initial post about having Ulnar nerve Transposition surgery (graphic pics) in March 2008. I’ve blogged a few times since then with status updates and I thought would give another update really quick, being 9 months later.

The numbness on the elbow itself is going away, its now sensitive to touch and very tender (I’ll take this over numbness any day). If I bump my elbow directly on a door or desk its still very painful and I shriek every time. The scar from the incision is about 6 inches, perhaps 7 inches in length its wide and still very tender and red, a large lump presumably scar tissue and a strange indent are located around the scar. Also, the area around the scar appears to be bruised, the skin is darker in tone.

The tingling and numbness in the pinky and ring finger are bout 50% of what they were before the surgery which is fine as I’m learning to deal with it. The Doctor said it’ll probably take 2-3 years for the nerve to repair itself since it was compressed so bad.

Before the surgery my arm would ache almost all the time, it was a “tired dull pain” that lingered. However, the surgery seemed to resolve that and I only have the “tired dull pain” when I over use my arm now.

I am glad I had the surgery, its been a long road and the situation is at least 40-50% better then what it was before surgery. I go back to the doctor in February 2009 for a checkup and I’ll follow up here as well with the results.

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116 thoughts on “Ulnar Nerve Transposition Surgery – Update 3

  1. Oh man, I just had the surgery last week. I’m in pain right now. The bandage is covering my hand all the way up to my shoulder. I didn’t expect the surgery to take that long (over 2 hours). I know recovery might take a long time. My concern is: will I be able to go back to the gym and do my routine exercise including triceps? I used to go to the gym 5 times a week with a weekly schedule and now I haven’t been there for a week. The mpre I think abou it, the more depressed I get. Any thoughts?

  2. Hi Ryan…my son will be getting this type of surgery in a few weeks, but the less invasive ulner nerve transposition. Which one did you have, and where did you have it done, and what orthopedic surgeon did it. Seems like you are happy to have had it. Thoughts?

  3. I am currenty going on a third possible surgery. I have been dealing with ulnar palsy since 2003. I had my last surgery in November of 2008. I still have no feeling major lost of muscles in hand I am clawing very badly, and now I have a balge on the side of my elbow the size of a baseball. I go to theoropy daily but have had no improvement. I wish you the best of luck in your recovery. In the meantime I will keep trying.

  4. HELLO,
    I am 3 weeks out from surgery, I was injured via my shoulder and had been dealing with the damage for 3 years now. I am kinda scared cause I am still in alot of pain and I am worried about the atrophy in my left hand has just wasted too far. I have been on workers comp now for the past 3 years due to all this. How long is it going to be to/if I recover and get the use back of my hand?

  5. I just got my left arm out of a full cast which was on for 5 weeks. I had ulnar nerve trans on 12-23-2008. I already have full range and most of my strenght back. I had my right arm done in October-2008 and also had a cast on. I don’t have anymore numbness or tingling in eather hand. The best way to heal is in a cast because you can’t take it off.

  6. Five days postop from Ulnar nerve release and transposition on the left. I didn’t have a cast just bandage and a Tensor – I now change the dressing every day.

    I still have incisional pain and have full range of motion, but the tingling and numbness in the pinky, ring finger and palm of my had are the most annoying – but I must say I love not having the “nerve” pain going down my arm. I still have sutures and steri-strips and a lot of bruising, but in time everything will be better. Right now I am glad I did it – but time will tell if it is successful or not.

  7. I’ve got to have this ulnar nerve transposition surgery. Does anyone know how long does the surgery take, on average? What kind of cast or other kind of immobilization item is used? How long does that stay on? Anything else I need to know?

  8. I forgot to mention that the procedure is to be done on my elbow only. Another question: If the procedure was to your dominant hand, how long before you’re able to take care of hygenic needs? That’s one of the reasons I’m having this done. I’m having trouble with that; also, having trouble writing especially forming numbers. Anybody have these symptoms?

    • I had the Ulnar Nerve Transposition surgery done New Years Eve day 12/31/08, I had Carpal Tunnel Surgery as well (left arm for both surgeries). I was able to take care of my hygenic duties within 7 days. I am glad I only had the one arm done, because I was considering having the Carpal Tunnel Surgery procedure on both wrists,and If I had, I would have been unable to properly take care of myself. My pinky and ring finger were almost 100% numbfree by my 9day follow up. I believe the slight numbness I am still experiencing occasionally with my middle and ring finger are from the CPT surgery. The numbness and sensitivity is still prelevant at the surgery site on my elbow, which I expect to take a long while to ease up fully, I am however able to do light weight bearing excersises at the gym to restore my strength in my forearm caused by the ulnar nerve damage, I can really feel the progress as a result of these excersises. My palm surgery area is still sensitive, but not near as bad as the elbow.

  9. Thanx for the hygiene note, JohnRV501. That’s good to know.

    I’ve noticed a new problem recently with involuntary hyperextension of the index and middle finger, same arm as the upcoming surgery. When it happens, I have to take my fingers from the other hand and push/force the affected finger down. Does anybody have this problem and if so, know what it is, if it is part of the ulnar nerve problem and how is it being treated?

  10. Hi – I had ulnar nerve transposition surgery just before Xmas 2008 following a serious road traffic accident in May 2008 – whilst i’ve recovered well and have good use of the hand (worse first thing in the morning) I am having problems with my shoulder. The physio is putting it down to muscle wastage – my consultant says i have an impingement injury and gave me a cortisone injection. I’m due back to the specialist early march and he’s talking about further surgery. Anyone else having similar problems following an injury to the ulnar nerve and subsequent surgery?

  11. I am due to have this op on 10 March and am really worried, can someone give me some assurance that it is not as bad. How long before I can use my arm and on a scale of 1 – 10 how bad is the pain?

  12. Have the doc put your arm in a full cast (wrist to shoulder) and after 5-6 weeks you can use your arm with full range and most of the strenght. The best part of the cast is when your arm is in it there is NO pain. And I mean NO pain. Right after surgery the pain will be a 10++. A few days after 5-7. A week after 3-5. Then put in the cast and the pain is 0-1. I had both arms done a month a part.(ulner nerve transposition) Both were in casts for 5-6 weeks and I am happy with the results.

  13. P.S. Most Docs won’t use a cast. If you want the cast tell your doc you are not good at keeping splints on and that you use your arm and hands alot. I don’t think my surgery would have turned out as great as it did if I didn’t have the casts.

  14. thanks for that but not sure if my surgeon will put a cast on but will ask, feel a little better, will let you know how it goes….

  15. good luck with your surgery.

    I had ulnar transposition surgury in early December 2008 and have pretty much 75% recovered by March 2009. I have not yet reuturned to lifting heavy objects yet or strenuous exercise with the arm.

    No pain in the arm/fingers, much of the tingling went away and some strength has returned to the two fingers.

    I also do have some post surgery sholder pain, feels exactly like a rotator cuff injury I had a few years ago. So far I’ve just been using medicated creams and stretching exercising. I suspect the shoolder pain is from having the arm bent/pressed on during the 2+ hour surgery

    I think a lot of the recovery depends on how bad the damage to the ulnar never was and the type of procedure done.

    As far as damage I had mild numbness/tingling and weakness in the ring and pinky fingers but no pain in the arm.

    My surgeon did a subcutaneous transposition in which they move the nerve and place it under the skin but above the muscle.

    There are also more invasive transpositions in which the nerve is placed within the muscle or under the muscle

    My arm was splinted for the first week. The second and third weeks it was just bandaged had to do bending and range of motion exercises.

    Best of luck to all

  16. i had the more invasive transpositions in which the nerve is placed under the muscle. I was told by my surgeon that it would take a year to heal. At the time of the surgery (early 2000) my ulnar nerve was only together by a single strand. To this day my elbow and scar are verry tender. The pinky, ring and left side of my hand are still numb and gets worse with activity….

    I think my case would be more on the extreme side….

    Thats my 2cents..

    • Thanks for your input. I too had the more invsaive transposition in both arms, and it is good to hear that you too were told it would take over a year to heal, I get fed up when people want to tell me at the 6 months mark that I should be better now and claim they too have had elbow surgery (albeit not submuscular ulnar nerve transposition) and they did not take so long to get better. It is hard to make some people understand that not all surgery on the elbow is the same, and that it does take an extremely long time for nerves to settle down after this type of surgery.

  17. My surgery is this Wednesday. The surgeon told me I’d be in a sling for 10 days. I’m diabetic so putting me in a cast is unlikely due to skin problems. My surgery is due to neuropathy. Surgeon told me if atrophy sets in, there would be no improvement and surgery would be ineffective. Said the time to do it is now because I’ve had the problem for 2+ years now. He further said recovery is slow and the nerve only grows 1/16th mm/month.

    I’ll get back with an update when I’m able to type.

  18. Whew, this blog has been so helpful. I have had constant numbness in the last two fingers of my left hand since August 2008 and am scheduled to go in for surgery April 15, 2009. I’ve been told I have cubital tunnel syndrome/ulnar nerve entrapment. The doc told me it would take 4-6 months to heal. He said I would have a big cast for at least a week. He didn’t tell me whether he would do the transposition procedure by the submuscular, intermuscular, or subcutaneous method. Does anybody know how the surgeon determines which of these methods to use? Is one more effective that the other or does it just depend on the particular anatomy/condition of the individual?

    In August, my EMG reading showed “decreased conduction velocity (A Elbow-B Elbow, 41.4 m/s)” How bad is that? While it is somewhat and constantly numb, it doesn’t hurt and there is no clawing or strength loss. Doc said he could see a little atrophy around the elbow area.

    I was previously scheduled for surgery with a younger (more hotshot-acting) surgeon but canceled as I just didn’t have any level of comfort with this guy (initially told me I’d be back at work in two weeks, even though I am a flight attendant and my job requires me to hold a heavy tray with drinks on it). Upon further reflection and after telling me to just use the other arm–HA!, he said I’d be out of work for only 6 weeks. He planned to move the nerve to the other side of the bone, essentially releasing it from the entrapment. I think he planned to shave/smooth the bony part of the elbow off a little. Whatever procedure he planned to use it sounded a lot less invasive than the one I am now going in for.

    I am a superfreak for following doctor’s orders and doing what is best for my body; but I’m a little scared that this surgery is pretty invasive. Any comments would be welcome.

  19. Sorry, my last post was not exactly correct. The doctor told me it would take over a year to heal from the surgery but that I could go back to work in 4 to 6 months.

  20. I had unler nerve transpositon march 27th 09 rigth elbow….the aching pain numbness,waking with dead arm at night along with sholder pain numb pinky and ring fingers pain above the elbow forarm gone just a little tenderin this area…bandeges were remove on april 1st 09.i imeditly had full rang o motion could make a fist with no pain it’s 4/29/09 phys therpy going good if u need the surgery have it just make sure ur docter is good .oh by the way my scar u can bearly see it

  21. I am a professional violinist and I had both my elbows done (Dec 2007 and April 208). I was back to playing withing 2 days and full-strength playing 6 days after sugery both times. I could exercise with no pain at 2 days. The recovery was so easy, but the area was tender for at least a year afterward.

  22. Had my anterior transposition of my right ulnar nerve on 15/05/09.
    Came home with no care plan as I was so long in recovery that the day case unit had closed!
    Not sleeping well as the operatin site aches like mad.
    Can someone advise what I should an more importantly shouldn’t be doing.
    Should I raise my arm to brush hair?
    I am not in a plaster cast so wonder if I am over-doing it.
    Should I be doing any gentle finger exercises?
    How is the best way to sleep?
    Thanks if you find time reply as I feel a little abandoned!!!!
    Jean

  23. Hi Jean

    You might try to do your normal routine, but gentler. I had trouble flossing my teeth right after, but I found that bending my elbow didn’t hurt – the only thing restraining was the ace bandages.

    I believe you can move your fingers unless you have tendon surgery and in that case doctors want you to keep them still. This was nerve surgery so I think you can go ahead and move them.

    Just sleep on your back with your arm raised on a pillow.

    Hot compresses work great a few days after surgery (not the day after)

  24. Hi…thank you so much for your reply. I am certainly making progress and the night-time unbearable pre-op pins and needles have gone!!!!!!!
    this was what I really wanted so am thrilled.
    However, the sight of the incision is ooooh so tender but no sign of infection and appears to be healing well. I am now 3 weeks post-op.
    Do others folks think it should be less sore/ tender at this stage?
    All replys appreciated
    Jean

  25. I had this surgery done (subcutaneous transposition) in June 0f 2007. Two years ago. Kinda in answer to all of the above, yes the incision site is uncomfortable for quite some time, it was for me anyway. Numbness around it, painful to touch, excruciating pain if I bumped it. Actually it still is very painful when bumped. All of the pre-surgery symptoms are still present but greatly reduced especially the numbness in the fingers and palm. My wrist aches like heck sometimes and gets pretty inflamed. Writing, typing, small finger activity can trigger symptoms if overdone but can do heavier stuff now as long as I am careful about repetitious movement. I no longer golf, hate it. I used to play pool in two leagues and now play rarely, again repetitious activity can trigger old painful symptoms especially at the elbow itself, the wrist even more and pain into the palm and baby finger. After 2 years I expected better especially since the “hot shot” WCB surgeon said back to work in “no time”. Sure. I am still off work as I am a health care worker and cannot do bed care or personal care or push around wheelchairs all day. Frustrating. We are now looking at alternate employment with the same employer, thank goodness for my Union and LTD or WCB would have completely washed their hands of me. I love to hear that this procedure has been successful for some and wonder about the post-surgery treatment, I was sent to physio and occupational rehab through the worker’s compensation and feel that it was too aggressive expecially when I complained of very sharp stabbing pains in the area of the newly transposed nerve. I was told I was too pain focused and told to keep working it and under threats of discontinued wage loss benefits. Turns out those pains were the nerve moving from it’s new position. I now have an ulnar nerve that is sliding OVER the medial epicondle. Hurts like crazy when that happens with no warning. SO, if I have any advice at all, PLEASE do not let anyone push you to do too much too soon. The nerve does heal slowly and I wish I could go back and say NO to those WCB practitioners who pushed me past the limit and into where I am today. My choices now are live with it as it is (limited for daily use and definately employment) or undergo another surgery, submuscular transposition. Seeing a third surgeon (of my choice this time) next month. Keep you posted.

  26. I would love to hear from anyone who has undergone the submuscular transposition before I see my surgeon next month. The surgery, post op, recovery success, etc. And of course anyone who had the subcutaneous and THEN the submuscular. Is there anybody out there? As Pink Floyd would say.

  27. Sandra,
    At the top of the page in the first sentence ULNAR NERVE TRANSPOSITION SURGERY is in darker print. Click on it and it will take you to a more recent site. I will look for your post there. This is not a scam. I have a lot of posts there.

  28. hi,

    I am wondering if i should be worried. I had ulnar nerve transposition surgery in may last year. It fixed the problem and am still pain free, but i am experiencing increasing loss of sensation in my fingers (pinky and ring) as well as tingling, and overall loss of strength.

    should i go back to my arm doctor?

  29. I just had the surgery for the second time on July13th. I still am numb in both the ring and pinky. I Think I am one of the not so lucky. However there is more feeling than a year ago. I can’t imagine living with this forever.

  30. Hey Sandra,

    I had have both done now. The muscle one hurts more.I got strength back after 2 months.If thats what you want to call it. I am a big guy so I can handle the pain. I only needed pain pills 2 days. What sucks is sleeping for the first 10 days.Find a recliner and a blanket. Good luck!

  31. I have had a radical ulnar nerve transposition. It took 5 years for Dr. Greenwald( SCRAMA,Reno Nv. ) to approve the surgery, so now my arm is basically useless. If I would have had the surgery when my orthescopic Dr. wanted to do it, my arm would probably still be usefull. Now 5 and 1/2 years later, I’ve lost my job, disability has almost expired, and no settlement outside of future medical is available. Though, I have this limb attached to me, that does little good. I may need future surgery, physical therepy, injections and who knows what else. I need to find out how much all these proceedures cost, to help me be on the good side of injustice. Thank You.

    • I think it depends on the procedure and perhaps the dotor as well. I have not seen my bill yet, and I had subq transposition done in elbow and decompression in the wrist/hand. Which urgery id you have done?

  32. hi again. had ulnar and carpal tunnel on right hand June 16th this year. Now experiencing more pain than ever before in my fingers, wrist and finding very difficult to do certain things like driving etc. anyone else had this? seeing doctor in september again as I am still having to wear a wrist splint because of the pain.
    Should I be worried?

    • Precious,

      I had both subq ulnar nerve transposition and wrist decompression on 6/17 and I still am in pain in the wrist and palm.Very sensitive as well. Just went back for post op last week and they said I have early RSD, and they changed my PT routine. Seems like it has helped a little bit, are you still in PT? My pain is worse than when I first had the surgery, but nerve irritation will do that. When do you go back for post op?

  33. I am 3 days away from getting the ulnar transposition done on my right arm. I have only met with this doctor twice and he hasnt answered any of my questions until i see him tomorrow. I have been seeing doctors for about 6 months. I do have alot of questions and I heard this was very painful. Is this true? When do i get the cast on or will i wake up with it? About how long does it take to go back to work? i know everyone’s experiences are different but if anyone has any insite on this topic id greatly appreciate it….I dont want to go into this blindsided so i thought id do some research for myself….Does anyone regret doing it

    • Larissa,

      I’ll try to answer some of your questions best I can. Everone has a different experience am sure but I woke up with cast on, then cast was removed and fitted with a splint after 6 days.

      Started lite PT after 6 days,and stitches out after 3 weeks. I had both the elbow and hand/wrist done.

      As far as pain is concerned I took strong meds for 2 days,then Extra Tylenol or Ibuproven, cause the hydrocodone made me sick.

      I am now 2 months post op and I am still off work, in therapy and in pain due to a condition I developed after surgery called RSD. I am doing PT to try and revese this.

      Depending on your condition, and which procedure you will have done and the type of job you do, this is the best info I can give. I am not sorry that I had it done, even wih the complications. My elbow healed quick and very nicely ut the wrist surgery is the one that is still painful. Hope this helps.

  34. Larissa,
    Tell your doc that you want a cast not a splint. I had casts on both of my arms and the nerve trans turned out great. I had them on for 5 1/2 week. They were long arm casts. If I would have had splints I would have taken off early and used my arms.

  35. I’m set up for the surgery on my elbow on 9-11. I hope that’s not ominous. After reading some of the above cases I must say that I’m worried. I’m to be in cast for one week. I’m a carpenter and I probably over worked my hand and elbow for 30 plus years. My hand feels like it’s been in a bucket of ice overnight, very numb and weak. I’m hoping the surgery works for me and all I can say is hopefully the results will turn out alright. Seems to me that it happened really fast as far as the symtoms. Was it like that for anyone?

  36. Hi, I am having this surgery done in 2 weeks time and I’m dreading it. I just wondered, how long will it take to heal, when can I drive etc? my consultant said he will remove the bandages after 4 days…surley this can’t be right…I think i just want some reasurrance.

      • I’m having submuscular transposition of my right elbow. I injured my elbow 9 months ago when i fell on it..since then it wont bend or straighten properly. I went to see an orthopeadic consultant in june about it and he said that he thought the ulnar nerve was trapped and sent me for tests. He says that by having this op it will free my nerve but wont make my arm bend or straighten any better thats a whole different thing.

      • Nicola,

        I did not have the submuscular transposition done, I had the subcutaneous one done. You might llook at some of these posts to see info on that, since the recovery on that is much dfferent.

        D

  37. I had surgery on 3/17/09 (Subcutaneous transposition) and immediately after surgery I noticed that something was wrong. I kept telling the doctor that I was worse off after the surgery than before. Prior to the surgery, I had some numbness and tingling in the ring an pinky finger. My arm was in constant poain below the elbow. Howvwer, after the surgery, my pinky finger is completely numb and part of my ring finger. My therapist also stated that there was something seriouly wrong with my hand and nerve. The pink finger stays curved. As the months past, I got worse. Now I have sever muscule loss in my hand and still no feeling. Maybe I am the 1% of the patients that gets worse after surgery. I had another EMG test done today and I get the impression from the doctor that I may have permanent nerve damage. I know that I will need another surgery, but I am not hopeful at this point. Currently, I only have use of three of the 5 fingers on one hand and have managed to try to adjust my typing. My life now is a living hell as I cannot do the things that I use to do. Conbing my hair, bathing, cleaning, cooking anod other things that require the use of my hand is now a challenge….

  38. Hi All,

    My husband had been suffering from ulnar nerve entrapment for over 4 years. His fingers were numb, had constant throbbing pain in his elbows, shoulders, neck and numbness in his face. Two years ago he had a release surgery on both arms and was completely fine for about 6 months. After that the pain came back. After being in pain for about 6 months he asked for another surgery but doctor refused saying that the nerve is not trapped anymore and that he will have to live with the pain. After two years of agonising pain they finally agreed to do another surgery but only on his ‘worse’ arm this time to see if that will make any changes. It was a trasposition surgery this time, went quite well and after 5 week recovery he went back to his IT job. After the surgery, his doctor confirmed that the nerve wasn’t trapped at all. He was seing physio, started doing light excercises and was feeling ok but then developed completely new pain in his Median nerve. We were devastated thinking that this could go on forever….Some time ago we were told about a book ‘The mindbody prescription’ of Dr Sarno which helped one musician to sort out his RSI (my husband is also a musician). At the time we were offended that someone offers reading a book as a solution to his chronic pain. Being desperate after second surgery and returned pain he started reading the book. Rediculous as it is I can say that he is now 90% pain free, is playing his instrument again after 2 years of non playing, riding his motorbike and most of his pain has dissapeared. If he didn’t see his ilness from a different angle he cold have still be in pain (maybe even for the life time). I am writing this not to sell the book (please don’t laugh at me because we were there too and we hated the person telling us about a book after we had 4 miserable years of pain and disabillity) I am just writing to give you the information in case it could help someone. The condition Dr Sarno is talking about is called TMS and there is a good web page about it (just google TMS HELP and go on their forum – there are people struggling with cubital tunnels, ulnar nerves, chronic back pains, bulged discs and all sorts of nasty pains). I hope this post might help someone, please let me know if you need more info. Best of luck!

  39. i had the ulnar nerve transposition surgery yesterday and am doing well. the doctor did tell me that it takes a long time for the nerve to heal. maybe i’m imagining it, but i think the numbness is better in my fingers. the arm pain i can’t tell if it’s going away yet. i may need the other arm done but am thinking i was lucky as there isn’t really significant pain as long as i take the medication. am using vicidon and ibuprophen. back to work next week, 8 days post op. will still have an ace bandage but no sling or dressing. i’m not supposed to drive for two weeks. overall i’d say that this surgery wasn’t nearly as bad as i had expected. good luck to everyone and remember not to use the hand and arm too soon like i did!

  40. i had right elbow ulnar nerve surgery nov. 4, 2008. then june 16, 2009 i had right hand/wrist surgery ulnar nerve to relieve compression & now leftelbow ulnar transposition done. every time i use my lright arm it hurts, my writng is shot, i type with one finger. overall, my nerve pain has been relieved, my nerves r quite damaged hopefully one day itll get better. i feel for everyones pain. i wish u all a good recovery i know exactly what ur going thru.. take care everyone

    • Michelle,

      I had the subqutaneous transposition done and the wrist decompression on my left arm, developed RSD and now my upper left arm is kiling me everytime I move it. Have you experienced the same?

      D

  41. Hi everyone, I just had submuscular transposition of my ulnar nerve on my right arm on Thursday 17th Sept 2009, I had all my bandages removed on Friday afternoon only to be left with a big sticky plaster over my stitches. Bruising is just starting to come out, pain isn’t as bad as I expected although I’m getting some strange sensations in my arm ( feeling that my elbow is wet, twitching muscle in forearm, and pins and needles in my hand and all my fingers) and the outside of my little finger is constantly numb (it wasn’t before the op) I can move my arm a little bit. My surgeon said the nerve was really badly compressed and now I have permanent nerve damage.
    I have been told I should be able to drive after 2 weeks…if I can manage.
    Hope this is of some help to anyone just about to have surgery.

    Nic x

  42. Thank you all for your input. I will be having transposition surgery soon on both arms. One at a time of coures. I waiting for a new emg test on my left at the moment but it is apparent that the left is much worse than it was before the first surgery. Is anyone doing this under workers comp if so please inform me on the treatment you received from your work place and the ins company. I have been lay off because of the finances of the company, at least thats what they are telling me. Any info you can give to help let me know . thanks chris. katy , tx

    • Katy

      I think i some of the blogs you will see that these surgeries have been performed under Workers Comp. I had mnine done through private insurance. Hope you will do well. Keep us in the loop.

      D

  43. Hello All…. Well,,, This is my first blog response after reading this since early June. I had a Right Ulnar Nerve Transpo, Transcutaneous method. I had a crushed Ulnar nerve for two decades and now there is no pain, no numbness, no tingling!!!! Hurrah, Hurrah!!!,,,, I had the surgery on July 7, 2009, I am an RN and I work in surgery myself… I picked a really good doc, and a team of people who really were there for me.. Now, the work is up to me… I am still on disability and going to PT twice a week… Still have pain over the site, especially when I bump my arm… ARGGGG! I have a weight limitation and and hoping to go back to work part-time with a 6 hour day and a weight restriction.. We are going very slowly back to normal. I have disability insurance in my state, so I receive about 70% of my presurgery income, that has been the hardest part of all of this, since I support myself. I am having some new pain and achiness in the left arm because I was and am still using it a lot more than my right…. I take extra strenght tylenol, aleve and a RX called Voltaren for inflammation and pain.. Non-narcotic and easy on the stomach.. I can swim now pretty good, but continue to wear either an Ace bandage or a special elbow brace I found at Vons,,,, in the pharmacy that has a nice velcro strap with gel inside that protects the new home for my nerve on the inner aspect of my elbow… My doctor had me in a cast for two weeks, then a sling for a week, then… I started using the above. So, for now, I am very glad that I had the surgery, and I just need to be patient about how long I will have some pain, learn to adapt, and get myself back into the OR in November!! Take care everyone and good luck to you!

    • Libby,

      I had the subcutaneous ulnar nerve transposition on June 17 and have recovered from this surgery pretty well. I developed RSD and that has been a struggle. I still have PT 2x week and developed issues in my arm, by focusing on the RSD and now have difficulty doing many things, since the muscles have not been used. I do weightbearing exercises and have weight restrictions.My pinkie is still pretty numb or tight feeling but the sensitivity is getting better.I got fired from my job, thus now have no income nor benefits. This causes a real hardship. You are lucky that they have kept you on as an employee.I hope you continue to improve. I had my surgery done at Barnes Jewish in St Louis, where did you have yours done in Cali I assume?

  44. After reading all these stories I thought I would add mine. In october of 2004 i had the ulnar nerve transposition surgery on left elbow. GREAT success! In February of this year I started having all the symptoms of a blocked ulnar nerve in my right elbow. Went and had a EMG done the beginning of April. Went to see orthopedic surgeon 2 weeks after test. Complete compression of ulnar nerver. When I say complete, the test showed a speed of 2.5 from elbow to finger tip. Which is pretty slow. So we decided to do the same surgery on my right elbow. Complete failure! Had another EMG on right elbow in August. showed some compression with a speed of 7.5, which is better. But arm, hand and fingers were not feeling any better. In September had the surgery again. Within days i was feeling fantastic. Arm and hand were almost back to normal and the pinky was almost there also. Within 3 weeks EVERYTHING was fantastic, no tingling or numbness to speak of! Went back to work on light duty doing nothing but computer work! I did more when i was off work than i did when i was at work and BANG, elbow swelled up, started bruising and started losing feeling in arm, hand and pinky all over again. Surgeon is talking about another surgery, the one where they cut the muscle from the bone, reroute nerve and reattach muscle. Very frustrated as is the surgeon! Actually he might be more frustrated than I am! He is going to consult with 2 other surgeons to see if anything other than surgery can be done. Will know this week whether we are doing the surgery again.

  45. i am just starting on this process. my right hand if affected, atrophy of the muscle between thumb and forefinger with lack of dexterity, no fine motor skills and also pinky and ring riger are numb and tingly, arm aches from elbow down, sometime pain radiates into fingers. saw neurologist last week, had emg, haven’t had follow up with doc yet but he felt i would have to have the the nerve moved. after reading all of these reports from others i am very scared and wonder if doing nothing is better. it seems so many have had no so good results. doc told me if i did nothing it would only get worse and my hand would claw which of course would make it quite useless. I am not sure that surgery can quarantee this will get better. I need someone to tell me that surger is the right decision as the alternative is probably worse. Your suggestions are welcome. Also how to do you find the very best surgeon for this operation? My primary doctor recommended a neurologist and and respect her but how do i know he is the best because after reading all of these blogs i want to make sure i have the best not just the mediocore (sp) Thanks, any advise you can give me would be greatly appreaciated.

  46. Need I say I am scared to death to have surgery after reading all these blogs. I realize everyone is different but being right handed and this is my right hand that is affected I think I would prefer to leave as is than risk my right hand becoming non functional. I am consulting with the doctor next week and I will also get a second opinion but the problem I am having is that these are “surgions” and surgery is what they do so they naturally suggest that. Anyone out ther that has avoided surgery and escaped further deterioration??

  47. I just had the ulnar nerve transposition surgery (as well as carpal tunnel) on my right arm and wrist, Ocober 14. I believe it was the subcutaneous transposition. Later that night and the next morning, my elbow/arm/hand already felt better, with no pain, tingling, or numbness. Have actually felt little to no need to take any pain pills.

    It’s been nice to be able to enjoy a solid night’s sleep. Every night before the procedure, I would wake up with my hand and arm asleep or tingling, most times, more than once.

    They have my arm wrapped from almost my shoulder and splinted. My next appointment is October 28th. I assume the bandages and splint will be removed then. Think they told me that I’d have little use of the arm for 6 weeks. Not sure if therapy will begin after me next appointment or a little farther out.

    I should add too that I don’t have any helpers in my life, that it is easy to take care of myself, or any needs that come up. Even still walk my dog, 4.25 miles in just under an hour, so this hasn’t slowed me down any.

    Because of all the doom and gloom stories, I wanted to share my story and I’ll try to update my story as it progresses

    • I am going to an Orthopedic Surgeon for what my doctor describes as a bone spur in my left elbow that is digging into the Ulnal Nerve. I am just wondering what your symptoms were. I am experiencing numbness in my left hand and pain that comes from my shoulder into my hand, I have more numbness on the bottom of my hand on the side edge and also I have been losing more use of it as far as grabbing things and picking them up (weakness). My typing skills have dimminished greatly and sometimes can’t even feel the keys. Along with this the longer my arm is bent (driving, cell phone use) I begin to feel intense pain when I straighten my arm and have almost no use of it to pick something up. In the morning when I wake up I can’t even pull socks or my pants on because it is either too painful or I lack the power to grip and pull. Were your symptoms similar to this ? I am very curious. Thanks Fred.

    • Hi ,All I was setup for this procedure 2/24/11 after reading these comments last week I decided it was not worth the gamble ,Like others my pain is from my work I was supose to go in today and in 10 days carpel tunnel in one wrist then ten more days the next wrist,The pain this time around was a ten!was put on meds they alone did not much good .So 2 weeks ago tried acupuncture being a skeptic on these things .So after the first visit I noticed some change have now had visited them 6 times and the last time a theraputic Massage I cna honestly say I alomst out of pain & the tingling in the 2 fingers almost gone . I am sure not everyone will have them same effect but its worth the try,the surgery sure doesn’t sound like a cure. wish all of you luck

  48. Thank you for that post
    I will have the surgery this friday 10/23/09
    I am very worried as I have heard good and very bad thinks regrding this surgery
    I will have it done by the Orhtopedic Center of the Rockies and hear they aer very good.I think they will do the under the muscle one sub-somthing
    I use a computer everyday all day for my work and am concerned that I may not be abe to return to the job as soon as I like
    the doc said he will remove the splint aftr only 3 days and I can return to work when I feel like it
    I am worried about the pan and recovery times

    Dang

  49. Hi everyone,
    I had a question regarding the ulnar nerve surgery. I was diagnosed with the same problem about 10 years ago. I received my injury from playing softball for years. I too had numbness in my pinky finger and my ringer finger which migrated up to my wrist. I was placed in a brace for about three months and was given IB800′s to help with the inflamation. I am now 26 years old and am wondering if the surgery now would benefit me later in life. I work at a computer all day long and my elbow constantly is bent. I have to straighten it out several times a day to relieve the ach in my elboy and fingers. I also have changed my lifestyle to avoid repetative motion with my right arm and have issues carrying more than 15-20 lbs with my right hand. Basically a sac of potato’s is a killer. Do you think revisitng the possibility of the surgery is a good thing to consider?

      • I’m having this surgery on friday 1/15/2010. I’m wanting to be encouraged that this will solve the problem i’m having as well with the numbness (little and ring fingers). I was injured running away from a dog. My shoulder was also severely injured and that surgery was a year ago followed by elbow surgery in may of last year. Good luck in your recovery. I’m not looking forward to the pain. especially if anything like the pain from the shoulder surgery.

        Good Luck!!!

  50. I had this surgery 4 1/2 weeks ago.They moved the nerve under some muscle in my forearm.Before surgery,the numbness in my pinkie finger and that side of my hand would vary from hardly at all,to bad enough that I was conscious of it all day. After surgery the numbness is worse than before.The surgeon says it should get better,but it seems like it shouldn’t be worse than it was.Anyone else experience anything such as this?

  51. i had this surgery 6 months ago and my pain and numbness have gotting worse im now seeing another doctor and most likely having another surgery this makes no#4 seems like i might be limited in arm 4 life

    • Joe,

      I had the surgery 5 months ago, and I have developed pain in upper arm, and limited rom. Still have numbness in little finger and pain in arm all day every day. o more therapy, I had it for 4 1/2 months.Hope you are doing better.

  52. After enduring a rather awful EMG the other day, I was told by that consultant that the damage at my elbow (a couple inches above the elbow) was severe with nerve death occurring. That was bad enough, but then was told I also had nerve compression at my wrist at “bad” stage and to top it off minor carpal tunnel. He said he expected surgeon would do at least the elbow and ulnar at wrist with possibility of the carpal at the same time. What a combo! He said even a wait of a couple weeks will mean more nerve death. This whole thing only started 6 wks ago and I already have hardly any hand muscle or tone left. Pinky and next finger have been constant pain numbness combo since then.
    I go back to the hand surgeon tomorrow to discuss those results. Ive already been told to expect surgery in a week, with him predicting the one that moves the nerve up into your arm muscle. I thought that was worst case scenarioonly to find out there was much more!

    I am totally freaked out by what I will be told they are going to do and the process Im going to go through. I look at my awful looking hand and know this is the best its going to look in a long time / ever! I have found plenty of info on the wrist surgery and elbow… I find NOTHING about a combo surgery. Oh yes, and apparently I have it at “minor stage” on my right hand also!
    Any words of advice for me going in to this?

    • Annette,

      I had the ulnar nerve surgery at both the elbow and wrist done subcutaneously 5 months ago. I developed RSD after the surgery. I am in remission with the RSD, but developed frozen shoulder syndrome. I still have numbness in the little finger and my fingers still are stiff when I get up in the morning. My elbow and wrist healed nicely, but I now have this other complication. You might want to check on complications on combo surgeries. Better to get all done at once, my system just reacted to it and caused the RSD complcation, that was worse than the surgery itself. It also is not cureable and I should refrain from other surgeries, but this is something they do not know until it happens. I have a super sensitive system. Hopefully you have a good surgeon. I did and am graeful for that, could have been a lot worse otherwise. Good luck.

  53. i had frozen shoulder and ulnar nerve damage by the elbow. Had my combination surgery in June 2006. He had to how he said it **shave a bit off the collar bone and moved the ulnar nerve a bit, before the surgery he thought he was going to move it to the front of the elbow, but when he looked he seen he would only have to move it a bit away to relieve the pain. I fell and damaged both my shoulder and elbow (basically just thought I bruised it) but noticed the **constant** pain like 6 months later. I had the typical EMG exam (am very happy that I had a neurologist that studied this over a year and was very good at it..only had 2 spots where she did it that i some pain but not as bad as some have explained it to me. After the surgery, it was a bit painful, as any surgery would be. The hard part for me was the physical therapy. It was painful, but I have to say, it helped me to recover at a good rate i was told.

    I did start having more pain the last 2 months again, a bit in the shoulder (not as bad as it was before) and the pain by the elbow is so bothersome now. The tingling, numbness, and burning going down from the elbow to the inner arm to the pinky and ring finger. Question I have has anyone else experienced this, where they had the surgery and then a cpl yrs later had it back? After my first surgery the pain and tingling went away about 5 months after the surgery. The numbness was still there, but didnt seem to bother me at all. Was used to it and just went on without needing to complain anytime about it. Has anyone else experienced this? Just curious and if so what was done, if you dont mind sharing.

    • JC,

      I had the subcutaneous surgery in June 2009 in addition I had the decompression done in the wrist. Ended up with RSD, which is now in remission. I still have issues. Some days good other days not so good. Tightness in the pinkie and side of the palm, and still get pain in both pinkie and ring finger and sometomes tingling. Sometimes the elbow hurts and forearm. I also do not have full ROM of the arm, and upper arm really hurts at times, especially when I sleep on it. I think it takes a long time to heal and I have heard of recurrences.

    • Hi! I had a compressed ulnar nerve in my elbow which I had operated on 18 months ago and after wards I was told they also shaved the bone down , Unfortunately I now have it back and am awaiting another operation on it only they are doing it on the inside of my arm this time , I also have a frozen shoulder in the same arm which I have been told will take 2 years to heal ! I am in c

  54. I just had Ulnar Nerve Tranposition surgery on my right elbow on 01/19/2010. So far I have been very pleased with the results. I was concerned about the surgery after reading the experiences of others. I am regaining my ROM, but still have trouble straightening my arm. I had the staples and bandage removed on 1/26/2010. Numbness and tingling sensations are gone so far (doc said they may come and go for awhile). I have been very pleased with the return of better finger coordination. Both typing and writing seem to be easier. I will say that I initially went to a soft tissue doc who did nerve conduction tests, said the nerve was not damaged yet, they couldn’t do anything to help me as far as physical therapy or meds. The instructed me to return in three months to see if the nerve was damaged. I took it upon myself to go to an orthopedic surgeon, he said surgery was the best route. Even though the nerve was not damaged did not mean that it was not compressed. My fear was nerve damage and muscle wasting. My symptoms had gone on for over a year. The surgery itself was not bad. Little to no pain. Biggest pain was washing long hair with one arm LOL! Hope others have a good experience with this surgery as I have!

  55. Hi all, I am due for Ulna nerve surgery and carpel tunnel maybe, as My whole hand has decided to play up…I wake up all the time in pain….the never ending ache..not sharp pain, just annoying aching…with pins and needles and often now….swelling in my hand……
    The surgeon suggests ulna op, and they want to look at the medium nerve also.

    I ride a motorbike, and at times find it dangerous to ride when my pinky and ring finger are too numb to really have decent control of the front brake.

    However, I’ve heard so many horrible stories after surgery, that I’m now wandering if I shouldn’t put up with it for a wee bit longer, incase the bloody thing gets much worse after being attached by the surgeons…and recovery time is so long also that I won’t be able to get on my bike.

    Has any of you heard about an alternative to the knife!

    Fiona
    :o)

  56. I read all these posts and I am now more scared of this surgery. I am having the more invasive one, transpostion.
    I am wondering what is RSD is, now I am more freaked out. How long is the most to be away from work and what kind of pain med’s work best?

  57. Oh srry, I am having mine done March 03,2010. Any advise? Were all of you doing better without pain med’s or while on them? I have taken vicodin with nerve med for almost a year and the vicodin I am now immune to so he give me stronger one. Any insites???

  58. Hi all,
    I’m about to undergo my second subq in 2 years. The previous one left my ulnar nerve subluxing with numbness and tingling, although an EC test showed the nerve is working properly. My op is planned for July this year.
    Regards
    Kai-Lin

  59. I was hurt in 2002 while I worked at Mayo. In 2004, the “best” arm surgeon in the Twin Cities did a radial nerve decompression. since I have had the same symptoms in my hand/arm with cramping, weakness, etc. Finally, I found the actual “best” hand/arm surgeon. He found in 2007 that I had numbness in my pinkie and ring finger, which I had never noticed before and was never tested for by the previous surgeon. The end of 2009, he decided that the last ditch effort to help with the cramping, weakness, and numbness is to try the ulnar nerve transposition. I am a bit reserved after reading a lot of the above, however, he has explained to me that this is a riskier surgery, but things really can’t get much worse because I already have muscle atrophy from the first surgery. I am going to stay possitive. BTW, it took my workers comp 5 months to approve this surgery ~ only after my lawyer wrote a letter to the State of Minnesota Courts to review and force them to approve….

  60. Hi, i’m having the ulnar nerve transposition op on Monday 19/04/2010 under general aneasthetic, already had carpal tunnel op to right hand and this showed I had a second prob wi the ulnar nerve. Can anyone tell me what your experience was like having the op under a general anaesthetic and how long you were in theatre. I’ve had loads of ops under a general but for some reason this one is scaring me to death. Whats the recovery like afterwards

  61. Hi all, I’m having the sub trans and carpal tunnel release on the left side on May 12, 2010. Anyone having had both of these done at the same time – how long before you returned to work? I live ~35 miles from work and drive a stick, public transportation and/or carpools are not an option. Once at work, I could hunt-and-peck with my right hand until I regain use of the left side. What kind of pain levels are we talking – vicodin has done little for me in the past.

    • Hi Clyde,

      I had mine done at the same time and was unable to do much for a long time. In addition I developed RSD, so I was out of work for more than 4 moths, and consequently got fired.
      Everyone heals different, but I am sure with the stick shift it will take a few weeks depending on your healing. I was able to drive after a few weeks but I had my right arm done and am right handed. Best to check with your surgeon on this one.

      • Thanks. It’s been about 10 hours since the procedures. While the arm is quite painful, my throat is more of a problem from the anesthesia procedure (breathing tube) than my arm is. Any pressure whatsoever on my fingers sends the pain through the roof, moving them hurts like hell too – but at least they move. As expected, the Vicodin does essentially nothing. I look silly doing it, but resting my arm on top of my head while standing or sitting is much less painful than using the sling. Getting ready to take my next dose of Vicodin and prophylactic anti-biotic and go to bed – needless to say, the anxiety of the surgery didn’t let me sleep well last night, hopefully the Vicodin will take the edge off the pain enough to let me sleep. First post-op follow-up visit on Friday. Will post update then.

      • So, as expected, the Vicodin did nothing and I think a got a total of about 20 minutes of sleep Wednesday night. Luckily, the pain subsided around 4 Thursday afternoon and I got a decent amount of sleep (although still behind from what I lost on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Follow-up appointment this morning, changed dressings and removed the three drainage tubes – my wrist was still oozing – - surprisingly, my elbow looks and feels much better than I thought it would. Staples used to close the elbow wound and stitches used for the wrist. Physical therapist made and fitted a new splint, and provided my with an array of exercises for my wrist and elbow to start immediately – unfortunately, I listened to her and on the second set my wrist incision started to bleed – - I’ve decided to not do any more of the wrist exercises for now. The arm is swelling now, hopefully it reaches it’s peak soon. Sore throat is nearly gone, that has been the worst part of the whole experience so far. I can touch my thumb to all fingers except the pinky and can hold light objects between my thumb and fingers.

      • Sutures removed this morning. No problems with the staples at the elbow, which feels just fine – maybe just a little stiff. There has been some minor bleeding from my palm where the CTS incision was made. The transposition, so far, has provided little to no relief of the symptoms in the two small fingers. I still have a small amount of swelling in both the elbow and hand but that should be gone in a couple of more days. I’m slowly gaining more functionality with the hand, but still can’t quite touch the pinky with my thumb.

  62. Excellent topics, I really like this topics. I found this online that The best chiropractic clinic helps people in Suwanee GA with back pain, neck pain, headaches.Call their office and speak to any one of their friendly staff to make an appointment for a FREE consultation.

  63. Hi Everyone,

    I had a submuscular unlner nerve transposition done in 2007 after spending nearly a year getting properly diagnoced. After the surgery I had less pain and tingling but not for long. About 6 months after surgery the scar tissue began to pinch the nerve off again. I had to go back in for a second surgery to try to clean up the area and remove the scar tissue. The surgery was scheduled for 2 hours. I was in the OR for 5 hours. Now here it is another year later and I am in more pain now, have less use of my hand and basically no use of my 2 fingers. I am on a large quantity of pain meds along with 3600 mg of Neurontin and just met with another surgeon yesterday. They have scheduled me for another, my 4th, EMG. Depending on the results, if the nerve is pinched closer to the wrist, they can do another surgery. However, if the nerve is pinched in the elbow, which I am quite certain it is, there is nothing they can do, other than sever the nerve.

    Has anyone allowed an ulner nerve to be severed? I am told that it will take away the pain. However, it will also take away my two fingers, along with the atrophy of my forearm. Does anyone have and advice? I am not ready to lose the arm and am scared to death.

  64. Tim,

    I wish I could be of assistance. Sounds very frustrating. Please keep me informed of your progress, and best of luck.

  65. I was very glad to find this blog!! About a week and a half ago I had wrist pain (which is common if I do something silly) but then I started having tingling in my fingers. After completely freaking out, I ended up in Urgent Care to learn that it was “probably” ulnar nerve entrapment (by this point, I was feeling some pain in the elbow as well. I was put on prednisone and feeling better: but now the other arm is feeling funny: some numbness in fingers but a general “tired” feeling. My husband is frustrated because I am so worried. I have an appointment with an ortho Tuesday.

    My main concern is that I don’t know how much pain is too much or how much is manageable (Meaning, it’s getting better, but takes time). The pain seems to come and go.

  66. Hi all,

    I’ve been experiencing the tingling and numbness in my right hand since 6/09. It was the result of all the repetitive motion stuff that is part of my job.
    Started off with therapy, as well as a few different medications, none of which worked. Went to an ortho surgeon and on 2/23/10 I had a decompression surgery done on my right elbow. For about three weeks after the surgery, my symptoms were gone, or if they were there, they were weak enough for me to not notice.
    After the bandage came off, I noticed a slight bruise under the small scar that was left. Right in the middle of the bruise, I could actually see a bump where the nerve ran under my skin. Of course, even light pressure on this bump causes those all-too-well-known sensations.
    A few weeks after the bandage came off, I started noticing that my elbow was much more stiff and painful than before. I have a doctor appointment once a month, and at each appointment, I told my doctor about this pain, and showed him the nerve bump. In June, he sent me back to FULL DUTY at work, saying that the exercise would be good for my arm. The symptoms instead got worse and started interfering with my sleep, and now I’m back on disability.
    I’m waiting to find out if the submuscular ulnar nerve transposition will be approved by my work’s insurance, and reading everything on this page is freaking me out. I don’t know what else I can do, though, because it seems like I’ve tried everything. I don’t know if another doctor would help.
    My arm isn’t too excruciating at the moment, but it’s getting worse and worse. I can’t even have it straight at my side for too long without the familiar buzzing/stinging sensation. On top of that, it seems like it’s taking FOREVER for this ball to get rolling, and I’m wondering if my nerve is getting more and more damaged as more time passes. But now I’m wondering if it even matters, since it appears that the surgery is rather ineffective.

    I just don’t know what to do… =(

  67. hello, I am getting ready to have right radial nerve decompression, I will be on a breathing tube and i am pretty sure i will be put completly to sleep. I am scared and am wondering about what they will give me for pain or if they will not give me nothing. I am on opana er for sever back pain. but this will be more pain added on. anyone know what they will give me for pain when i wake up and what they will give me to take home?

  68. Hello there I wish to be glad you for such a good made site. Was pondering this is a best way to present myself! Also I think have to let you understand your web site rss feed does not operate, it keeps showing me a format errors from W3C.

  69. I just had the ulnar nerve transposition 13 days ago. the pain from before the surgery pretty much subsided. my problem now is that i cannot straighten it all the way and when i do try i get terrible pain in bicep and inner elbow. my doc told me i needed to use my arm lightly and keep trying to straighten it. I’m afraid to do that do to it still being swollen around the wound. Could this be so or should i be able to have full range even with some swelling. I just want to do whats best for the healing. If that means not forcing things thats fine with me.

    • Hi. I had carpal tunnel and ulner nerve transpoition surgery done on Feb.16,2011. Now, 3 weeks later, I still can’t fully straighten my arm, or lift it over my head. Still pretty tender.Just wondering how yours is coming along, and if you are able to straighten it yet? Do you still have any swelling in your hand or arm?

  70. hi there
    im a 27yr female one day post op having had carpel tunnel decompression and cubital tunel release and transportation, at the moment i feel good starting to get pain in the elbow my wrist feels great thoe, alot of numbness, i start hand therypy in 5 days, my condition was not caused by any repititive work, was a work accident where i broke my fingers and sprained my elbow, has anyone else developed this for similar reasons. has been a living nightmare but am finally glad that its over. just hope i can heal back to normal and get on with my life

  71. im a 45 year old male having had carpel tunnel decompression and cubital tunel release and transportation,
    6 weeks post op , have a feeling of vibration in fingers at times
    didn’t have this prior to surgery , anyone experence the same ?

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