Radial Tunnel Syndrome – Symptoms, Treatment, Surgery, Exercises

What is Radial Tunnel Syndrome?

The radial tunnel syndrome is also known as the resistant tennis elbow. The condition is simply characterized by the compression of a significant nerve in the forearm. The radial nerve is located extending from the side of the neck towards the long arm. The nerve is connected to our spinal nerve roots making it possible for our motor and sensory functions enabled. The compression of the radial nerve basically explains the emergence of radial tunnel syndrome.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome pictures

The Radial Nerve

The problem has been noted to caused by overuse while others suggest that compression of the nerve is the most prominent and acceptable cause. The condition is considered a less common nerve compression disorder. The carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel are two nerve-related conditions more frequently found today.

Pics of Radial Tunnel Syndrome Physiology

Radial Tunnel Syndrome Showing Compression of the Radial Nerve

Symptoms & Characteristics of Radial Tunnel Syndrome

The identifier of radial tunnel syndrome is the pain and excruciating discomfort it emits. The following are the associated manifestations of the syndrome:

  • Aching feeling on near the elbow.
  • Weakness is noted and most probably induced by the discomfort from the syndrome.
  • Tenderness is felt around the elbow area.
  • Bending the wrist backward can increase the pain sensation.
  • Straightening the elbow can induce pain.
  • Pain is sometime nocturnal, meaning one can be awakened in the middle of the night due to the pain that the syndrome emits.

Causes of Radial Tunnel Syndrome

The root cause for radial tunnel syndrome has always been pointed out from compression of the extensor carpi radialis brevis or the so-called radial recurrent artery. The compression can be worsened with to the constant repetition of movements of the elbow. Repetitive extension and forearm rotation are possible causes. Swelling and inflammation can be aggravated due to this action. Trauma is also pointed out a cause of radial tunnel syndrome. there are also rare cases where a tumor can cause the syndrome.


The diagnosis of radial tunnel syndrome can be attained through a careful collection of medical history. This is the initial step in identifying the existence of the syndrome. The following are some examinations done in order to radial tunnel syndrome is identified:

  • Physical examination should be done. When tenderness was noted on the elbow area, this may suggest radial tunnel syndrome. Point tenderness is located at the radial head.
  • Weakness shall be noted during the examination.
  • Tenderness is induced when the middle finger is extended along with the elbow.
  • The patient would usually resist from touch and supination of elbow is also a hard task.

Treatment Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Treatment for radial tunnel syndrome shall aim in managing the presenting symptoms. The following are the proposed remedies of radial tunnel syndrome:


Medication that is aimed in reducing the inflammation of the affected area is usually prescribed by the doctor. NSAID or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are helpful in reducing inflammation.

Work modification

As work entails a big part in inducing the problem, the client should consider other career options.


When conservatory treatment does not help, surgical method is performed. This is not considered unless other treatments are not helpful. The pressure under the nerve is to be decompressed so that relief shall be attained. The said surgical intervention can be an outpatient procedure and does not need immediate and hospital care. Removal of the possible tumor may be done.


This is needed most especially after a surgical intervention. Rehabilitation shall need strengthening exercises. Therapy after surgery may last for 6 to 8 weeks, as to attain full recovery from the intervention. If stitches are involved with the intervention, it should be removed before any physical therapy is started. Some sports activities are recommended, those which cannot cause for recurrence or worsen the state of the client.

4 thoughts on “Radial Tunnel Syndrome – Symptoms, Treatment, Surgery, Exercises

  • 26/04/2016 at 10:34 PM

    Many thanks for the information contained and the pictures, we were trying to find particular things today and handled to locate your blog site, we are leaving these remarks to ensure that you maintain creating more information like this

  • 12/06/2016 at 12:22 AM

    I’ve had this condition for over a year. The pain has increased and I had a cortisone shot yesterday. I really don’t want surgery.

  • 13/03/2021 at 10:57 PM

    While being tested for progress 5.5 weeks post op radial nerve tunnel surgery,I was involved with a test trying to keep the therapist from pushing my hand back(we hand clasped hands).I was holding my elbow while doing this(because I feared pain)and all of a sudden I received a terrible pain accompanied by a LOUD popping noise from my elbow and behind it in the tricep area.I asked the therapist (after she asked me if I was okay)if she felt the popping and she said yes AND that she heard it! She asked me what it was and I said”you tell me”.My arm is still painful two days later? Can you tell me what it might have been? I see my doctor in two days. I thought from right after the surgery and removal of stitches that I should have been given a removable brace to be worn for support but had nothing? Your thoughts? Thank you.


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