Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Tendon Instability (ECU Instability)

The extensor carpi ulnaris tendon resides along the dorsal ulnar aspect of the wrist extending upon a groove of the distal ulna and thereafter inserting on the base of the small finger metacarpal. The tendon is stabilized into its groove upon the distal ulna through a subsheath. This subsheath structure may become injured leading to tendon instability. Individuals may notice pain along the ulnar aspect of the wrist with a snapping sensation that occurs as the wrist and forearm are rotated.

In patients with instability and associated pain or dysfunction, surgical treatments involving stabilization of the subsheath or reconstructive stabilization procedure may provide benefit. These procedures aim to secure and stabilize the ECU tendon while allowing for appropriate gliding.

The decision regarding nonoperative versus operative treatment is complex and should be discussed with your treating physician. Outcomes after surgical treatments vary and risks and benefits should be discussed in detail with your treating physician. Nonoperative treatment also carries risks and benefits which should be discussed with your treating physician.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to covey, substitute or supplant any medical advice. In order to establish a treating relationship, please schedule and complete your visits with a licensed physician.

Copyright 12/15/2021 Tanay Amin, MD

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