Radial Nerve Irritation Treatment Putney | Physio4Life

Radial Nerve Irritation

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Radial Nerve Irritation



Often confused with Tennis Elbow, lateral nerve entrapment (radial nerve) can have very similar symptoms especially in the early stages.  Simply put, it is due to a pinching of neural tissue by one or more structures around the outside of your elbow.

The radial nerve comes out of your neck and passes down your arm along the outside of the elbow.  At the back of your forearm (near the elbow) the nerve separates and part of it passes into an area where it can be compressed by a number of different structures.


The compression of the nerve is unlikely to cause actual nerve damage but it will disrupt the blood flow to the nerve.  Blood entres the nerve under very low pressure and so it is relatively easy for this to overcome.  Should this happen, vital oxygen cannot get to the nerve and also waste products cannot be removed.  After a certain point this will certainly be felt as pain.


Once this process of irritation has begun, it can be aggravated by very simple tasks like writing or carrying a bag.  The activities that hurts are similar to those for tennis elbow and so the two can be easily confused.




Pain outside elbowPain on gripping

Pain when turning your palm upwards

Tender about 4 finger widths (toward your hand) from the bone on the outside of the elbow .

Pain referred into the back of the hand

Pins and Needles and/or numbness may or may not be present.




Clinical questioning will ascertain the history and onset of the problem, along with any common symptoms that may bring it under suspicion.

Clinical examination involving muscle tests, palpation (touching), and nerve mobility tests will aim to accurately diagnose the condition and separate it from simple ‘tennis elbow’.


Thorough clinical examination will look at the neck itself as a possible cause of symptoms.  Furthermore, all the common points of contact for the nerve from the neck to the hand should be tested as possible sites of pain.  The integrity of your nerves should be tested as well as their ability to move well.  Also your ability to perform resisted wrist and elbow movements (do they replicate your pain)






Treatment will usually consist of manual therapy (massage and stretching) to the muscles on the back of your fore arm.  This treatment can be effective along the arm towards the neck as the nerve passes along this path.

The use of acupuncture needles for this can be very effective for pain relief and specific exercises that promote mobility of the neural tissue involved will also help.


If this is unsuccessful then there is a surgical option, but this is rarely needed, and this condition is best handled conservatively.








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