Radial Nerve Entrapment Sites, Symptoms, Exercises, Treatment

Radial nerve entrapment is a rare condition that is frequently misdiagnosed. Though entrapment or compression can happen anywhere along the nerve's distribution, the proximal forearm is where it happens most frequently. This prevalent site is frequently observed in close proximity to the supinator and frequently affects the posterior interosseous nerve branch. The radial nerve supplies the extensors of the forearm, wrist, digits, and thumb with motor function. It originates at C5 and C8. 

Radial Nerve Entrapment Sites

Entrapment of the radial nerve can occur at various sites along its trajectory within the upper extremity. The posterior interosseous branch is involved in the majority of entrapment cases, which occur in the proximal forearm's supinator region. There are additional sites where entrapment can occur, such as in the vicinity of the radiocapitellar joint, the spiral groove, the arcade of Frohse, the tendon of the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB), and the radial tunnel. 

Radial Nerve Entrapment Sites, Symptoms, Exercises, Treatment

Radial Nerve Entrapment Symptoms

Radial nerve entrapment is a pathological state characterized by paresthesias, paralysis, discomfort, and alterations in sensation and motor function. Compression occurs most frequently in the region of the supinator muscle in the proximal forearm. Radial nerve entrapment can cause the following symptoms:

  • Ache affecting the wrist and forearm
  • Weakness and dysfunction
  • Altered sensory perception, such as an impairment in feeling over the hand's or forearm's dorsoradial aspect
  • Alterations in motor function, such as dropped arm
  • Paresthesias and numbness

Radial Nerve Entrapment Excercises

The following exercises can be used to manage radial nerve entrapment:

Radial Nerve Glides: This exercise facilitates the radial nerve's normal glide across structures that apply pressure to the nerve. 

Wrist Extension Exercise: You can use a dumbbell or resistance band for this exercise, which targets the muscles on top of the forearm.

Gentle Movements: Gentle movements such as pouring and pumping water are recommended. In the beginning, grasp an empty cup in an inverted position, simulating the act of pouring water.

Radial Nerve Entrapment Treatment

Depending on the severity of the condition, conservative management or surgical intervention may be required to treat radial nerve entrapment. Conservative management may include the following:

  • Oral anti-inflammatory medications
  • Activity modification
  • Splinting
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Arm muscle strength can be maintained through physical therapy exercises

If conservative treatment options prove ineffective in mitigating the symptoms, surgical intervention may be planned. Decompression of the radial nerve and, in more serious instances, nerve repair, nerve grafting, or decompression of the nerve are surgical alternatives.

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