The prevalence of ulnar neuropathy at the elbow and ulnar nerve dislocation in recreational wheelchair marathon athletes
Ulnar neuropathy at the elbow is an entrapment neuropathy, while ulnar nerve dislocation might also be involved in its incidence and severity. Wheelchair marathon athletes may be at an increased risk for Ulnar Neuropathy. However, there is a paucity of research into the prevalence of Ulnar Neuropathy and ulnar nerve dislocation in this population.
To investigate the prevalence of ulnar neuropathy at the elbow and ulnar nerve dislocation in wheelchair marathon athletes.
Wheelchair marathon athletes (N = 38) who participated in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Oita International Wheelchair Marathon. 2 athletes participated only one time, 36 athletes repeatedly. Data from athletes`latest assessment were used.
The day before the race, questionnaires, physical examinations, and ultrasonography were conducted to screen for Ulnar Neuropathy in both upper limbs. Ulnar nerve dislocation was confirmed by physical examination and ultrasonography.
11 (29%) athletes were diagnosed with Ulnar Neuropathy. There were no significant differences in age, height, weight, Body Mass Index, or history of primary illness between athletes with and without Ulnar Neuropathy. In the group without Ulnar Neuropathy, 44% of athletes reported to have been engaging in other wheelchair sports, compared to 9% in the group with Ulnar Neuropathy (p = 0.037). Ulnar nerve dislocation was diagnosed in 15 (39%) athletes by ultrasonography. Out of the 14 elbows of 11 athletes diagnosed with Ulnar Neuropathy, 9 (64%) elbows had ulnar nerve dislocation.
The prevalence of Ulnar Neuropathy in wheelchair marathon athletes was higher than previously reported in able-bodied, non-athlete individuals and lower than in non-athletes with lower limb dysfunction. Therefore, while wheelchair sports may provide some protection against Ulnar Neuropathy, this study further supports the importance of screening for Ulnar Neuropathy, as well as for ulnar nerve dislocation as a potential risk factor for the development of Ulnar Neuropathy.
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences