T Nation

Shoulder Rotations and the Ulnar Nerve


Feels like im hitting the ulnar nerve (funny bone) when I rotate my shoulder.

When i rotate my shoulder in a backward circle it basically feels like I'm hitting my funny bone. I have plenty of old shoulder injuries from my wrestling days and have done some extensive rehab on them with physical therapy and other form of rehab.

My shoulder become "healthy" during these rehab periods but after a few months post rehab the same problems occur again. I feel i have a pretty good control on the general shoulder rehab that works for me, but a problem that wont go away is strange and fairly painful feeling of hitting my funny bone with an hammer and some other aches, but i can live with those :slightly_smiling:

Anyone have any idea what might be causing it to feel like that? My guess would be that the connection to the ulnar nerve is being disturbed somehow in my shoulder, but i have no clue why or how to make it go away.

Any help would be appreciated


It certainly sounds like it could be an ulnar nerve irritation. However, the position you have described could be one that causes medial epicondylitis or golfer's elbow. Are you feeling pins and needles in your last 2 fingers? It would be difficult to give you a diagnosis without a formal examination. Are the symptoms worsening? Are there any particular exercises that irritate the pain?



To add to beefcake, it may be a UCL issue as well. If there is laxity at the UCL, it may be causing the ulnar nerve to rub, sublux, or be impinged. If very well may all be stemming from your shoulder, but the source could easily be at your elbow as well.

With your previous shoulder injuries, any exams or imaging done to rule anything out? The fact that the pain subsides after rehab makes me think that it is more than likely focused at the elbow and you may have some restrictions causing irritation to that nerve and when you go in arm circles, one position you will cross is a tension test for the ulnar nerve. But you should definite get an in person evaluation on this specific issue if you haven't done so already.


The best way to describe the pain is from the back of the shoulder, down the triceps, into the ulnar nerve and somewhat down my forearm. I can feel pins and needles if that was the right expretion, but mainly it feels like when i hit a nerve in this one tooth at the dentist. Same "icing" feeling.

Well, since im a wrestler we for better or worse are thought to ignore the pain, pain is weakness blahblahblah, so i usually ignore any pain felt at either weightlifting or wrestling, except from bad form on squats,deads, olympic etc. When i try to simulate different exercises now i can try to tell you which exercises would hurt.
-Bottom position of standing presses

Basically most pulling exercises and bottom position of some presses.

The symptoms arent worsening, most of them are getting better or are gone except this ulnar nerve problem. It's mostly in my right arm, i can barely feel any shoulder pain in my left one anymore.

I understand its hard to give a proper diagnosis online, but any help would be greatly appreciated.


I went to the doctor once, and thats it. They wanted to do surgery and i said fuck you. These scalpel loving guys have a tendensy to cut first and diagnose later imo. So i went to see all the types of physical therapists i could find the old teams physical therapists and got quiet better, but since i had a bad injure and are not on the top of the foodchain in wrestling over here anymore you could i dont get the same expertice as i used to get without having to go to privat clinics and pay a shitload of money.

"But you should definite get an in person evaluation on this specific issue if you haven't done so already."
I guess my english isn't all that good, because i dont really know what an in person evaluation is :slightly_smiling: What you say make alot of sense though. Physical therapists tend to treat the part of your body that's hurt instead of looking and the body as a hole and the pain as a symptom and not necesarily the problem that's causing the pain. Like for example my old back injury, my back was treated for ages and the problem was actually from bad glute strenght wich made my lower back take over the work for the glutes and it ended up in some disc problems.

Thank you for your answer btw


If you have radiating pain/tingling starting at the shoulder and radiating all the way down your arm, I would definitely look into your shoulder and possibly even a neck issue. What I meant by "But you should definite get an in person evaluation on this specific issue if you haven't done so already." is to go see a physician in person and not just take the diagnosis off the internet.


I have an extremely stiff, but flexible neck if that makes any sense? It's flexible because of all the stretching in wrestling and it's stiff and painfull for some other reason.

I will defenetly go to a physician. I got some new tryouts to see if i can back on the team in the end of july so if i make the team i will get the best physicians free at charge and top priority so i was planning to wait untill then, and if i dont make the team ill go the normal route to get help through my doctor.


see a movement coach to work with you to open up this area - and also see what might be going on around the area (upper thoracic issues, maybe?) that's feeding into this effect.

something else to try:
nerve glides

this is a kinda poor intro, but it's an idea

a movement coach (zhealth, level 4 anyway, among others) can help you with these super techniques

be gentle with these




based on your description, the diagnosis may include muscular, ligamentous, versus neurologic diagoses. Each of these has different treatments. I understand that seeing a surgeon is not the most palatable idea as many are indeed good at what they do (namely cut) and are not particularly interested in conservative approaches.

I suggest you see a 'Physiatrist' or a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician. These physicians (MDs or DOs) specialize in treating patients with either temporary or permanent disabling conditions.

If you can find one who has done a sports medicine fellowship, that would be ideal.

BTW, I am a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, finishing up my last year of residency.




I've actually come in contact with a guy that might be able to help me.
Thanks for all the help


"BTW, I am a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, finishing up my last year of residency."


all the best with your training and practice