I’m going to start this post by saying that my method of curing my ulnar nerve was not scientific at all. I tried so many different things and pinpointed what was working for me so this may not work for you, but I wanted to share in case this could help someone else with Ulnar Nerve Neuropathy.
For those of you who do not know what ulnar nerve neuropathy is, I explain it by saying it’s “carpal tunnel for the elbow”. You know that feeling when you hit your funny bone? I had that feeling in my pinky and ring finger on my left hand all the way up to my elbow, FOR A YEAR. I’m pretty sure the reason I got it in the first place was because I was working 12-15 hour days for 21 days straight so I’ve definitely taken a step back from doing that, but below are the other methods I tried that I think worked for me.
- Wearing an arm brace while sleeping
- Standing desk
- Casper pillow
When I first went to the doctor to get diagnosed, it was very discouraging. The doctor recommended that I sleep with an arm brace (because I’m a side sleeper, I was sleeping on my elbow every night) and said not to bend my elbows or do any strenuous exercise as much as I could. This is not sustainable. I like to work out so this felt debilitating to me but I tried it for a couple of months, but saw no improvement. The doctor next suggested surgery, which I simply did not accept as my only other option. This is when I turned to acupuncture.
I received acupuncture for about 12 weeks straight on a weekly basis. My acupuncturist would focus on the SI channel to target the fingers and elbow. My nerve pain was at an 8 out of 10 before trying acupuncture and after the 12 weeks, I was down to a 2 out of 10. However, we hit sort of a plateau. We could not seem to get rid of the tingling feeling completely. So this is when I turned to Dr. Sebastian Gonzales.
Dr. Gonzales is the one who told me that I didn’t need to be immobile because I had this ulnar nerve neuropathy. He actually encouraged for me to work out, but just to make sure my form was good. He taught me several exercises geared around my mid back and neck to strengthen the areas around my nerves. This was the first time I felt the tingling feeling from my fingers go away, even if it was just for a minute. I live in Los Angeles and drove all the way to Huntington Beach (about an hour drive) to see him every other week. It was starting to get a little time consuming and we also had hit a wall (my nerve pain was fluctuating between a 1 and 2 out of 10 with rare glorious moments of 0 at times) so I stopped seeing him.
At this point, I had just accepted that my nerve pain would remain at this 1 or 2 for the rest of my life. It wasn’t bad enough for me to want to get surgery and plus, I had gotten used to it now having had it for a year. At least I was able to still work out. But then something happened. I take this running class about once a week where you run for about 30 minutes and do strength training for about 30 minutes. And one class, the instructor really pushed me on my sprints to sprint at a 10.0 speed, which I had never done before. I did several of these that day and then the rest of the day, my numbness was down at like a 0.5 out of 10. It was incredible. Then the next day when I woke up, my numbness was gone.
This felt too good to be true and in fact it was, my numbness came back in two days. So I went back to my running class and did my sprints and it went away again. I did this every two days for about 2 weeks. Then I went on vacation, worried that the numbness would come back since I wouldn’t be running, but now it’s been 2 weeks since then and it hasn’t come back! I will keep my fingers crossed, but wanted to share this in case others were having similar issues to me. I don’t quite get what the running may have done, but some theories are that it strengthens my back to support the nerve or it gets my circulation going. Regardless, I’m so happy it did what it did.
To note, I ended up going to an orthopedic hand doctor again to see if they had other suggestions and tell him my running theory. The doctor looked at me like I was an absolute nutjob and said that surgery really was the only option to get the nerve pain to go away.
Again, I want to reiterate that this is simply what worked for me. I know doctors will not agree but if you’re looking for options outside of surgery, why not give them a try!