Having hand and arm pain interferes with everything. From personal hygiene, eating meals, or driving to work, it leaves you impaired. In addition, the pain can interrupt sleep. This is the case with radial tunnel syndrome.
What Is Radial Tunnel Syndrome?
Radial tunnel syndrome occurs when there’s an injury to the radial nerve. This is a nerve that runs the length of the arm. It controls the movement of the tricep, wrist, and fingers, and it provides sensation to the hand. When injured or pinched, it will cause discomfort in the thumb, index, and middle fingers.
Radial Tunnel Syndrome Causes
Radial tunnel syndrome can have different causes, such as:
- Sleeping in an awkward position
- Bone fracture
- Physical trauma
- Exposure to toxins
It’s often seen in athletes and people who were involved in an accident.
The condition could also be caused by an underlying illness, such as diabetes.
Radial Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms
Symptoms of radial tunnel syndrome are hard to ignore. This type of injury will cause:
- Limited range of motion
- Difficulty in fully extending the affected arm
Some people feel pain, while others do not.
Risk Factors for Radial Tunnel Syndrome
Risk factors include repetitive movement of the arms, such as the motions of:
- Construction work
- Pitching a baseball
Radial Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosis
When diagnosing radial tunnel syndrome, your doctor will conduct a physical exam, asking you to perform certain hand and arm movements. They will also feel the arm to determine whether there is muscle weakness. The exam may also include electromyography (EMG) to verify the extent of nerve damage.
Radial Tunnel Syndrome Treatment
Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. For people with mild radial tunnel syndrome, it may heal on its own. However, when symptoms interfere with activities of daily living, the patient may need anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections to alleviate pain. If pain is more acute, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS therapy) can help to relieve it. The doctor may recommend immobilizing the arm with a splint.
In rare circumstances, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve.
Complications of Radial Tunnel Syndrome
Complications of radial tunnel syndrome include:
- Permanent nerve damage
- Loss of sensation or the ability to fully move the wrist or fingers
Therefore, if you’re experiencing symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Prevention of Radial Tunnel Syndrome
To reduce the likelihood of developing radial tunnel syndrome, it’s essential to take regular breaks if your daily duties require repetitive arm movements. In addition, avoid sleeping in positions that place too much pressure on your upper arms.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re experiencing symptoms of radial tunnel syndrome, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.