How to Destroy Your Elbow Part 1: Nerve Pressure
You may not think about it, but you use your elbows constantly. You may even have them in a bent position right now as you sit at a desk or hold up your phone to read this article. Your elbows are pretty important, but certain behaviors can destroy them. This series of articles will go over some of the ways you may be hurting your elbows without even knowing it. Here’s how:
You know how much it hurts when you suddenly hit your elbow? That shocking pain you feel when you “hit your funny bone” is the result of the ulnar nerve being irritated from the sudden pressure created by the impact. Imagine if, instead of a sudden impact, you submitted that same nerve to the same amount of pressure spread over a long period of time. You might be thinking, “Why would anyone do that?” Well, are you leaning on your elbows? Or do you sleep with your elbows bent? You may be hurting your elbow by putting constant pressure on the ulnar nerve.
The ulnar nerve travels from the shoulder, down the arm and into the hand, providing feeling to the little finger and half of the ring finger. It also controls some of the muscles in the forearm that help you grip and many of the small muscles that enable fine movements of the hand. Constant pressure on the ulnar nerve can cause pain, tingling, or numbness in the elbow, arm and certain fingers. Muscle damage and nerve dysfunction can occur in the long run if the behaviors aren’t stopped.
Nerve damage from these behaviors can be prevented by ensuring that you do not rest on your elbows for long periods of time, whether it’s at a desk or in your car. Take breaks to stretch your arm, and keep your arms straight while you sleep.