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Radial nerve dysfunction

  • Alternative Names

    Neuropathy - radial nerve; Radial nerve palsy; Mononeuropathy


    The following symptoms may occur:

    • Abnormal sensations
      • Hand or forearm ("back" of the hand)
      • "Thumb side" (radial surface) of the hand
      • Fingers nearest to the thumb (2nd and 3rd fingers)
    • Difficulty straightening the arm at the elbow
    • Difficulty bending the hand back at the wrist, or even holding the hand
    • Numbness, decreased sensation, tingling, or burning sensation
    • Pain

    Signs and tests

    The health care provider will take a detailed history to find out what you may have been doing just before the symptoms started, and to learn about any other medical problems you may have.

    An exam of the arm, hand, and wrist may find:

    • Decreased ability to extend the arm at the elbow
    • Decreased ability to rotate the arm outward (supination)
    • Difficulty lifting the wrist or fingers (extensor muscle weakness)
    • Muscle loss (atrophy) in the forearm
    • Weakness of the wrist and finger
    • Wrist or finger drop

    Tests may be needed, depending on the history, symptoms, and findings from the physical exam. Tests for nerve dysfunction may include:

    • Different blood tests
    • EMG
    • MRI of the head, neck, and shoulder to look for other causes
    • Nerve biopsy (rarely needed)
    • Nerve conduction tests