How is radial tunnel syndrome diagnosed?

Pain in the forearm and hand are usually the symptoms that send a person to the doctor. However, there are no tests to prove a person has radial tunnel syndrome. This makes the diagnosis difficult. The doctor must depend on the patient’s physical exam and the type and location of the pain. As part of the exam, the patient is asked to turn his or her palm up with a straight elbow while the doctor restricts arm and hand movement. If the patient feels pain while trying to move the arm or hands against resistance; it is a sign of radial tunnel syndrome. In another test, the patient is asked to point with his or her middle finger against resistance. Pain with this movement is another sign of radial tunnel syndrome.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/29/2015.

References

  • Naam H, Nemani S. Radial Tunnel Syndrome. Orthop Clin North Am. 2012; Oct 43(4):529-36.
  • Floranda EE, Jacobs BC. Evaluation and Treatment of Upper Extremity Nerve Entrapment Syndromes. Prim Care. 2013;Dec;40(4):925-43.
  • Hagert E, Hagert CG. Upper Extremity Nerve Entrapments: The Axillary and Radial Nerves-Clinical Diagnosis and Surgical Treatment. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 2014; July 134(1):71-80.
  • Neal SL, Karl B. Fields KB. Peripheral Nerve Entrapment and Injury in the Upper Extremity. Am Fam Physician.2010:81(2): 147-155.
  • Hainline, BW, Peripheral Nerve Injury in Sports. CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology. 2014;20(6, Sports Neurology):1605-1628.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy