Radial Tunnel Syndrome
Radial Tunnel Syndrome is another form of nerve compression injury that involves the radial nerve as it passes through the elbow. As the radial nerve exits the elbow, it winds down the upper arm and then crosses past the outside or lateral aspect of the elbow.
It is near the elbow where pain often arises, which makes diagnosing the condition more difficult. The radial tunnel is a passageway formed by surrounding muscles and bones through which the radial nerve passes on its way toward the hand. If pressure is applied to the nerve in the radial tunnel, pain occurs.
Making a diagnosis of Radial Nerve Syndrome is more difficult in this region because the pain and many of the symptoms for this condition are similar with those of lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). In either case a chronic ache or burning sensation will be noted along the forearm or outside of the elbow. When severe, this pain can lead to decreased range of motion and loss of strength.
Radial Tunnel Syndrome can occur with repetitive and forceful use of the extremity, especially if done so in combination with constant forearm rotation. Also, direct trauma to the outside of the elbow can lead to an injury to the radial nerve or to the structures of the radial tunnel.
Working with your physician, there are several options for treating this condition. Anti-inflammatory medications or injections may be required to assist in pain control, and arm therapy may also be prescribed. A therapist can show you ways to avoid stress to the region and allow for nerve healing; once your pain has decreased, a comprehensive stretching and conditioning program can help return you to your maximum level of function.
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