Pinched ulnar nerve: Bench press injuries

A pinched ulnar nerve might occur if an individual engages in bench press exercises. It is important to note that the ulnar nerve branches out from a bundle of nerves specifically the brachial plexus.

At the elbow level, the ulnar nerve moves under the cubital tunnel which is a tissue band that secures it against the elbow. It travels over the medial epicondyle which is the interior region of the elbow that protrudes outwards. This area is prone to damage than other parts since it rests on the surface of the elbow, fully exposed.


Tenderness or weakness in the hand is an indication of a pinched ulnar nerve.

What are the causes of a pinched ulnar nerve?

The region of the ulnar nerve that moves around the joint is susceptible to damage and irritation since it can end up trapped in a small-sized groove in the elbow. It might also be ensnared beneath the collarbone or in the wrist and become irritated.

Repetitive bending of the elbow can cause the ulnar nerve to swell. It is important to note that the nerve might glide in and out of its groove on the elbow, triggering irritation.

Repeated bending of the elbow joint during bench press causes the nerve to become inflamed and trigger the symptoms.

What are the indications?

Once the ulnar nerve is trapped or damaged, it can be evident such as:

  • Tenderness or weakness in the hand
  • Tingling sensation in the ring and pinky fingers
  • Tenderness at the elbow

These symptoms will not only cause discomfort, but can disrupt the individual while performing bench press since it is difficult to hold the bar and press weight. If these symptoms are present, there are several treatment options available.

Management of a pinched ulnar nerve

The injury often settles on its own if allowed to adequately rest. If not, the doctor might prescribe over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications or a corticosteroid shot to lessen the swelling.

The doctor might also suggest a splint to be worn to prevent the joint from moving to allow the nerve to recuperate. A physical therapist is consulted to assess the injury and rehabilitation exercises are started so that the individual can resume with his/her bench press routine.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a pinched ulnar nerve is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage this nerve injury by taking a standard first aid course with Kelowna First Aid.