Radial Tunnel Syndrome

If you’re experiencing a stabbing/piercing pain at the top of your forearm or back of your hand, especially when you’re trying to straighten your wrist and fingers, you might be suffering from radial tunnel syndrome.

While radial tunnel syndrome bears some similarity to carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome, the biggest difference is that radial tunnel syndrome doesn’t cause any numbness. Radial tunnel syndrome is caused by increased pressure on the radial nerve, which runs along the bones and muscles of the forearm and elbow.

Causes of Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Radial tunnel syndrome can be triggered by:

  • Injury
  • Non-cancerous fatty tumor(s)
  • Bone tumors
  • Inflammation of surrounding tissue

Beyond assessing your symptoms, your Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital physician will conduct a physical examination and may order an electromyography, which measures nerve response to pulses of electricity.

Treatment for Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Conservative Treatments

Conservative treatments for radial tunnel syndrome may include:

  • NSAID pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen, typically over-the-counter strength to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Elbow or wrist splints to reduce pressure on the nerve
  • Physical therapy
  • Ergonomic education to reduce the effects of repetitive stress
  • Heat or cold therapy

Surgical Treatments

If these conservative radial tunnel syndrome treatments fail to provide relief after three months, your doctor may consider surgery to reduce pressure on the radial nerve. Surgery is often recommended in severe cases of radial tunnel syndrome, particularly those in which the wrist becomes weak or droopy or it becomes difficult to extend the fingers.