Planking Injury Causes Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
A Recent Case Involving a Planking Injury
We recently treated a patient that had embarked on a planking challenge. The client was performing a minimum of 5 minutes of planking on a daily basis and she developed a planking injury. As you can see in the image above, the traditional planking position places all of the weight bearing on the toes of both feet and the forearms. For many people, planks are performed without anything more than exhaustion. It is possible, however, to place a significant amount of weight bearing on the inside part of the elbow, which can result in a compression injury of the ulnar nerve. This is referred to as ulnar nerve entrapment or cubital tunnel syndrome. A compression injury is more likely when planking on a hard surface like concrete or wood floors.
The ulnar nerve runs behind the medial epicondyle on the inside of the elbow.
Symptoms of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers are common symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. The ulnar nerve provides sensation (feeling) to the little finger and to half of the ring finger on both the palm and back side of the hand. Innervation is also provided to muscles in the hand consequently our patient also had a reduction in hand grip strength. In general, the longer a nerve is compressed, the greater the injury to the nerve. For this reason, it is essential to relieve pressure on the nerve to avoid permanent damage in the nerve. It is important to see your doctor if symptoms are severe or if they are less severe but have been present for more than 6 weeks. Your doctor will help you determine if you should pursue conservative, non-invasive physical therapy treatment, or if more invasive procedures such as injection or surgery are needed.
Treatment for this Planking Injury
In the case of this planking injury, the first course of action was to stop the activity causing the problem. Common sense dictated that the patient stop planking. Our physical therapy treatment plan also included neural mobilization techniques, iontophoresis, instruction in a home exercise program, and the use of cryotherapy to control pain and inflammation. Within 4 weeks of starting a therapy program, the patient was reporting a 50-75% reduction in her symptoms. We expect that with a little more time, she will continue to improve and get back to a pain-free lifestyle.
If you or a friend is experiencing any similar symptoms, please give us a call. We may be able to help.