Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Elbow treatment

Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Radial tunnel syndrome, also known as Radial nerve entrapment, is a condition in which the radial nerve that runs along the bones and muscles of the elbow and forearm is compressed. Entrapment of this nerve can occur at any location along the path of the nerve, but the most frequent location occurs in the proximal forearm, near the elbow.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms:

The symptoms for radial tunnel syndrome typically develop slowly and can include;

  • Pain/tenderness over the most common location which is the mass of the supinator muscle (or muscle/area where the nerve is entrapped)
  • Weakness (depending on the area of nerve entrapment we would find muscle weakness below that point)
  • Paraesthesia (sensations such as tingling and/or numbness in the thumb, index and middle finger)
  • Decreased grip strength

Radial tunnel syndrome is often confused with tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis due the area of pain. However, they are two completely different conditions that needed to be treated accordingly to the diagnosis.

Differential Diagnosis:

Below are a couple of easy ways to differentiate the two conditions;

Radial tunnel syndrome:

  • Pain is over the mass of the supinator
  • Movement that makes it worse is supination of the arm (turning your arm outwards)
  • Positive middle finger test


Supinator radial Anatomy


Lateral epicondylitis (Tennis elbow):

  • Pain is directly over the lateral epicondyle
  • Movement that makes it worse are wrist and finger extension


Tennis elbow anatomy

Treatment for Radial Tunnel Syndrome:

Treatment is simple once we identify the area of entrapment. To do this your chiropractor or health professional will need to do a detailed assessment following the radial nerves track from the neck down to the arm to isolate the area of entrapment. Once the area of entrapment is found all we need to do is unload that area, we can do that through muscle release techniques, dry needling and in some cases where the spine is involved spinal adjustments may be required to relieve pressure off the nerve.

The goal of treatment is to eliminate your symptoms and prevent them from coming back. It is important to follow through with nerve reconditioning exercises to regain full function of the nerve once we have unloaded the entrapped nerve. This should be followed by an exercises program that would look to improve your neck, shoulder, arm range of motion and strength to prevent symptoms to reoccurring. This process can take anywhere from 2 months up to 6 months depending on the severity of the nerve entrapment is cases.

Don’t sit and hope your pain will go away! Speak to our chiropractor today to see how we can help YOU!

Radial tunnel syndrome treatment

Post by: Chiropractor Steven Tran