If you’re experiencing a dull or aching pain in the top of the forearm when you move or use your arms and wrists, you may have a case of radial tunnel syndrome. This condition develops when there is pressure on the radial nerve, one of the main nerves that runs down the arm.
What is Radial Tunnel Syndrome?
Radial tunnel syndrome is occurs when the radial nerve is pinched or squeezed anywhere along the arm. One of the most common areas for this to occur is at the elbow. When the nerve test pinched because of overuse of the hand bending or pinching things, or repetitive movements that cause twisting or squeezing of the radial nerve, the result can be radial tunnel syndrome.
Common symptoms of this condition include fatigue and weakness in the forearm, weakness in the wrist, and stabbing pain on the forearm, around the elbow, and pain on the back of the hand.
Dr. Kilaru will need to perform a series of tests to determine whether you have this condition and can then recommend appropriate treatment.
Treatment for Radial Tunnel Syndrome
The goal of treatment is to prevent the return of symptoms, including pain and swelling of the forearm and pain around the wrists. Non-surgical treatment typically helps relieve symptoms. These include over-the-counter medication, steroid injections to relieve inflammation, and wearing a splint to reduce irritation and pressure of the radial nerve. In some cases, certain exercises and hot and cold therapy can also provide relief.
If non-surgical treatments fail, Dr. Kilaru may recommend outpatient surgery. Surgery for radial tunnel syndrome is not common, but if it is performed, would involve releasing the radial tunnel so the radial nerve has more space. This may involve dividing some of the tissue and creating a larger radial tunnel. After surgery, you would need to wear an elbow splint to keep the tissues in place as they heal.
What to Expect with Treatment for Radial Tunnel Syndrome
Most patients fully recover from non-surgical treatment and can address persistent symptoms as they arise with other forms of non-surgical therapies. If the symptoms do not subside at all, surgery may be the next best solution. Recovery from surgery can take up to 6 weeks and then the patient must do strength-building exercises to rebuild strength and increase range of motion in the forearm. Working with a physical therapist can help at this stage.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of radial tunnel syndrome or want to learn more about repetitive injury treatment options, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kilaru today.