The radial nerve is a key part of arm functioning. It is in the underside of the arm and is responsible for movement in the triceps as well as the extension of the wrist and hand. When this nerve is damaged, it is called radial neuropathy or radial nerve palsy.
Radial nerve injury can be caused by severe impact, or even quite mundane situations. Fracture of the humerus, impact to the arm, or harsh compression of the wrist are all possible collision causes of radial nerve damage. Some other ways the radial nerve can be impaired are sleeping with the upper arm with an unusual position, using crutches, or even a condition called “Saturday Night Palsy”, caused by consuming alcohol and falling asleep with pressure on an arm over the back of a chair.
There are a number of different symptoms associated with an injury to the radial nerve. In most cases, some instances of symptoms appear in the back of the hand, and in each of the fingers. The symptoms include acute pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and inability to straighten or move hand and wrist, or weakness.
Here at The Pain Center of Arizona, we would diagnose radial neuropathy by comparing the injured arm with the healthy arm. We would check range of motion, weakness, loss of muscle, and wrist drop. In some cases an Electromyography may be implemented. An EMG quantifies electrical activity in your muscles. This reveals if the issue is muscle or nerve related.
Treatments of radial nerve damage include pain medication, steroid injections, anesthetic creams, splints, therapy to strengthen necessary muscles, and acupuncture. In the majority of radial neuropathy, patients tend to recover within 90 days. In some cases, surgery is necessary to free up the nerve from pressure.
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The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.