I am not a doctor. That is one of the few things in life I am most certain about. Nor am I prone to submitting an arm-chair diagnosis when a player in injured. What do I know about medicine? I have Devil Dogs for breakfast every so often.
So when UConn released the news about the nerve compression injury in Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis’s elbow, I wanted to ask someone if there was just one nerve impacted or multiple impacted nerves, before I looked into it.
Well, there is basically one, the ulnar nerve – one of the three main nerves in your arm – and that is what KML injured in her fall. Think of it this way; it’s like banging your elbow inadvertently into something with great force.
You know how much that hurts? Make it hurt 100 times more.
Apparently, ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes irritated, in KML’s case, compressed by trauma. The ulnar travels from your neck down into your hand and can be compromised at any point of that journey.
Depending upon where it occurs, this pressure on the nerve can cause numbness and/or pain in the elbow, wrist, hand, fingers – the current appendage inventory before another two million years of human evolution.
The most common place the nerve is compressed is behind the elbow. And when the nerve compression occurs at the elbow, it is called “cubital tunnel syndrome.”
Now, what can UConn do to help Kaleena? Fortunately for her, Huskies’ atheltic trainer Rosemary Ragle is to rehabilitative genius what her head coach is to national championships.
“God” is what KML called Ragle this week. If you really want the truth, she was as much the Most Valuable Player of last year’s national championship team as any of the players. She nursed that injured team along until it could cut the nylon in New Orleans.
What will Rosemary do for Kaleena. I have no idea. But….
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines: Ibuprofen helps reduce swelling around the nerve.
Steroid injections. Cortisone, considered a steroid, is very effective, but generally not around the ulnar because of risk of damage to the nerve.
Bracing or splinting. If you see Kaleena on television tonight, you will see her right arm in a brace, supported by a large pad to keep the elbow straight.
Nerve gliding exercises. There are exercises which help the ulnar nerve slide through the cubital tunnel at the elbow. These exercises may also help keep the arm and wrist from getting stiff.
So there you go. Check in the desk before you leave – and bring your insurance card.