What is it?

Radial nerve palsy, also known as radial neuropathy, is a condition that occurs when the radial nerve, which runs down the arm and controls movement and sensation in the back of the upper limb, becomes damaged or compressed. Radial nerve palsy can result from various causes, such as trauma, fractures, compression, nerve entrapment, or underlying medical conditions like diabetes. It leads to weakness or paralysis of the muscles controlled by the radial nerve and may affect the ability to extend the wrist, fingers, and thumb.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- radial neuropathy

Signs & symptoms

The symptoms of radial nerve palsy may include:

- Weakness or paralysis of the muscles in the forearm, wrist, hand, and fingers.
- Inability to extend the wrist, fingers, and thumb.
- Difficulty in gripping or holding objects.
- Loss of sensation or numbness on the back of the hand and forearm.
- Wrist drop: The hand hangs loosely with the wrist flexed due to muscle weakness.

Diagnosis

To diagnose radial nerve palsy, a healthcare professional will typically perform a physical examination and evaluate the patient's medical history. Diagnostic tests may include:

- Nerve conduction studies (NCS): Measures the electrical impulses along the nerve to assess nerve function.
- Electromyography (EMG): Evaluates the electrical activity of the muscles to determine if there is nerve damage.
- Imaging tests: X-rays, MRI, or CT scans may be ordered to identify any fractures, tumors, or other structural issues that could be causing nerve compression.

Treatment

Treatment for radial nerve palsy depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. It may include:

- Conservative management: Resting the affected limb and using splints or braces to support the wrist and hand.
- Physical therapy: Exercises and stretching to maintain muscle strength and improve range of motion.
- Occupational therapy: Assisting with activities of daily living and providing adaptive devices if needed.
- Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or pain medications may be prescribed for pain management.
- Surgery: In severe cases or when there is compression due to fractures or other structural issues, surgical intervention may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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