Radial tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that affects the radial nerve as it travels through the forearm. It can result in pain, tenderness, and weakness in the forearm and wrist and can be caused by overuse, trauma, or nerve compression. At The Nerve Institute, led by board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mytien Goldberg, patients can receive expert diagnosis and treatment for radial tunnel syndrome and other peripheral nerve injuries. Dr. Goldberg is committed to helping patients achieve the best possible outcomes.
The Radial Nerve: Understanding the Nerve Anatomy
The radial nerve is one of the major nerves in the arm that arises from the brachial plexus, a network of nerves originating from the cervical spinal cord. It travels down the arm and branches into several smaller nerves that control movement and sensation in the forearm, wrist, and hand. The radial nerve supplies the extensor muscles of the forearm that allow for wrist and finger extension, as well as sensation to the back of the hand and thumb.
What is Radial Tunnel Syndrome?
Radial tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the radial nerve as it travels through the forearm, resulting in pain and other symptoms. It is caused by nerve compression due to overuse, trauma, or anatomical variations in the forearm muscles and bones. The symptoms of radial tunnel syndrome can include pain on the outer side of the elbow and forearm, weakness in the wrist and fingers, and tenderness in the affected area. The treatment options for radial tunnel syndrome may include rest, physical therapy, and/or surgery.
Symptoms of Radial Tunnel Syndrome:
- Pain on the outer side of the elbow and forearm
- Pain that worsens with activities that involve the forearm, such as gripping or twisting motions
- Weakness in the wrist and fingers, particularly with wrist extension and finger straightening
- Difficulty gripping objects or holding onto them for an extended period
- Tenderness and sensitivity to touch over the affected area
- Numbness or tingling sensations in the back of the hand or thumb
- Aching pain that can be difficult to localize or describe
- Pain that may radiate from the elbow to the wrist and hand
- Pain that is often exacerbated by prolonged periods of elbow flexion or extension
Possible Causes of Radial Tunnel Syndrome:
- Compression of the radial nerve as it travels through the forearm
- Repetitive overuse of the forearm for gripping, twisting, or lifting motions
- Trauma or injury to the forearm or elbow, such as a direct blow or fracture
- Anatomical variations in the forearm muscles or bones that can impinge on the radial nerve
- Inflammatory conditions that affect the nerves, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
- Nerve entrapment due to scar tissue formation, such as after surgery or trauma
- Systemic conditions that affect nerve function, such as diabetes or thyroid disorders
What Happens When the Radial Nerve is Damaged
When the radial nerve is damaged, the muscles and tissues that it innervates may not function properly, leading to various symptoms depending on the location and severity of the injury. The most common symptoms of radial nerve damage include weakness or paralysis of the wrist and finger extensors, loss of sensation in the back of the hand and thumb, and pain or discomfort in the affected area. In severe cases, the damage can lead to permanent disability and loss of function in the arm and hand.
Surgical Intervention for Radial Tunnel
Surgical intervention for radial tunnel may be considered if conservative treatments do not provide relief or if the condition is causing significant disability or nerve damage. The type of surgery depends on the location and severity of the nerve compression and may involve the decompression of the radial nerve by removing any constricting tissue or bony prominences that are compressing the nerve. This can be done using open or endoscopic techniques to restore normal nerve function and reduce pain and other symptoms.
Schedule Your Consultation With Dr. Goldberg
The Nerve Institute, led by renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Mytien Goldberg, offers expert diagnosis and treatment for radial tunnel syndrome and other peripheral nerve injuries and pain. Dr. Goldberg has extensive experience in nerve reconstruction and painful neuroma treatment and is committed to providing the best possible care to her patients. If you are experiencing symptoms of radial tunnel syndrome or have been diagnosed with a peripheral nerve injury, schedule a consultation with Dr. Goldberg. Don’t let nerve pain or injury limit your quality of life.