The median nerve provides motor (movement) functions to the forearm, wrist and hand. It also sends touch, pain and temperature sensations from the lower arm and hand to the brain. A pinched median nerve can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. If that happens, you may have wrist pain and problems grasping and holding items.
The median nerve helps you move your forearm, wrist, hand and fingers. It also provides sensation to the forearm and certain parts of the hand. (Your forearm is the lower part of the arm that extends from the elbow to the hand.) Pressure on the median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome.
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The median nerve provides sensory and motor (movement) functions to your forearm, wrist and hands. The nerve starts at your armpit, but its functions all take place in your forearm or hand.
The median nerve stimulates muscles in your forearm, allowing you to:
The median nerve is also responsible for touch, pain and temperature sensations to the:
The median nerve is one of five nerve branches of the brachial plexus. This complex network of nerves helps you move your shoulders, arms and hands. It also sends sensory information. The brachial plexus begins as nerve roots from the cervical spine in the neck. The nerves travel behind the collarbone (clavicle) through the armpit (axilla).
You have a left and right median nerve — one for each side of the body. The median nerve starts at the armpit and:
The median nerve branches include:
The nerves in the arm are part of your peripheral nervous system. This system sends signals from your brain to the upper limbs, lower limbs and certain organs.
Four other nerves also aid arm movements and sensations:
Signs of a pinched median nerve include:
These steps can keep your nervous system healthy:
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
The median nerves play a critical role in wrist, hand and finger movements. They also aid sensations. When there’s pressure on the median nerve, you may develop carpal tunnel syndrome. This pinched nerve problem causes pain, weakness or numbness in the wrist, hand or fingers. Your healthcare provider can diagnose the condition and suggest treatments for symptom relief.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/24/2021.
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