Ulnar neuropathy at the elbow (UNE) is a frequent entrapment neuropathy of the upper limb. Ulnar nerve partial/complete dislocation might be involved in the occurrence and severity of UNE. In wheelchair marathon athletes, they are forced to full flexion of the elbow frequently during the race, so it might increase the risk of UNE. In this study, elbow examinations were conducted for athletes who participated in the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon and the occurrence of UNE and ulnar nerve dislocation was investigated.
The subjects were 37 athletes who participated in the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon in 2017 and 2018 and underwent elbow examination. As the primary disease, spinal cord injury was the most common with 27 people. The average year of experience in sport was 16 years. Elbow examination was conducted one day before the competition, and interviews, doctors' examinations, and ultrasonography were performed.
The number of athletes diagnosed with UNE was 5 (13%) people, 6 (8%) arms. The number of athletes who found ulnar nerve dislocation in their physical findings was 15 (41%) people, 24 (32%). The number of athletes who found ulnar nerve partial dislocation by ultrasonography was 9 (24%) people, 10 (14%) arms, and the number of athletes who found dislocation was 4 (11%) people, 6 (8%) arms.
The frequency of UNE in wheelchair marathon athletes in this study was higher than that of healthy adults and less than that of wheelchair athletes. The frequency of ulnar nerve partial/complete dislocation in this study was similar to that of previous reports. Understanding the occurrence of UNE in wheelchair marathon athletes and responding appropriately will lead to prevention, early diagnosis, and early treatment of UNE, and will contribute to maintaining ADL and continuing competition for wheelchair marathon athletes.