Radial Tunnel Syndrome (Entrapment of the Radial Nerve)

Overview

This condition is thought to be a compression injury to the radial nerve near the elbow. This condition is often confused with tennis elbow.

Anatomy

The radial nerve travels through the radial tunnel, an open space surrounded by muscle and bone, along the outer side of the elbow and then to the hand.

Causes

Radial tunnel syndrome occurs when muscles of the forearm compress the radial tunnel, pinching the radial nerve at one or more points. This is typically caused by repetitive motions such as pushing or pulling, twisting, gripping with the hand or bending the wrist. It can also be caused by injury to the elbow.

Symptoms

Radial tunnel syndrome causes pain along the outer side of the arm about two inches below the elbow. The pain worsens when the arm is used. Weakness of the wrist and hand can also occur.

Treatment

Treatment options include rest, immobilization with a splint, and anti-inflammatory medications. In severe cases or when symptoms are not relieved, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve.