Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Dr. Steven Rueda is one of the most sought after doctors for radial tunnel syndrome in Palm Beach. Radial Tunnel Syndrome is a condition affecting a nerve in the forearm and elbow. This nerve is called the “radial nerve”, and is responsible for providing sensation to the back of the hand and wrist. It also provides nerves to the muscles in the forearm that help extend the fingers, thumb, and wrist.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms arising from radial tunnel syndrome reflect the function of the pinched nerve at the forearm explained in the prior section. Some of the most common symptoms include:


  • Pain in the outer elbow
  • Pain on the top of the forearm
  • Pain in the back of the hand
  • Weakness of the hand and wrist

In some cases patients present with all of the symptoms, and in some cases only with some of them. This condition is frequently misdiagnosed as tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) given the similar location of symptoms.

The diagnosis of radial tunnel syndrome is given using a combination of history, clinical examination, and nerve studies. A typical history and examination performed by a hand surgeon are usually enough to diagnose the condition. Nerves studies, also known as nerve conduction studies and electromyography (NCS and EMG), may be ordered to assess the condition of the radial nerve through the arm. A diagnostic injection is also commonly used.

WHAT CAUSES Radial Tunnel Syndrome?

The condition receives the name “radial tunnel” because of the location where the nerve is pinched in the forearm. The radial tunnel is formed by structures including bone, muscles, and blood vessels. As the nerve travels through the tunnel it gets pinched by any one of these structures and causes symptoms. The most common symptom of radial tunnel syndrome is forearm pain; numbness and tingling are not typical of this condition unlike in other nerve compressions.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome Treatment Options

There are four main ways to treat radial tunnel: therapy, splints, steroid injections, and surgery. Treatment begins with conservative measures including therapy and splinting. These two modalities attempt to alleviate symptoms by encouraging positions that avoid pinching of the nerve.
In case of failures of conservative treatment, the next step is steroid injections. This treatment method reduces the inflammation in the nerve with the help of the steroid and reliefs symptoms. The radial nerve is located very deep in the forearm and makes it difficult to precisely inject close to it. Dr. Rueda uses ultrasound guidance to perform his injections and maintain the nerve safe at all times.
Surgery for radial tunnel surgery is an option in cases that have failed conservative treatment.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome Procedure

Success with radial tunnel surgery is variable, but most patients feel some degree of relief. The procedure frees the nerve from the structures that are causing pinching and leads to improvement in symptoms.


A single incision starting on the outer arm, passing through the elbow, and extending into the forearm. Usually its 8-10cms in length


Outpatient procedure. Most patients are actually surprised at having less pain that they expected. There is tightness, swelling and bruising for first few days after surgery. An elastic bandage is applied and removed in a day or two. Pain from radial tunnel syndrome gets better rapidly for the majority of the patients, but may take up to 3 months to improve in others.

Most patients generally return to work in 1 week. Exercise is not allowed until 4 weeks after the surgery.

Why Choose Precision Hand Center for your Radial Tunnel Syndrome Procedure?

Dr. Rueda, a Hand Fellowship trained surgeon who has 7 years and 2,000 procedures of experience will be your safe and best choice for radial tunnel. Successful results in this procedure requires a surgeon that is experienced and knowledgeable in hand surgery and hand anatomy. Dr. Rueda has published in peer reviewed articles and his work has been presented in several national conferences. Dr. Rueda’s passion for patient education and custom centered approach will guarantee you feel comfortable every step of the way. Dr. Rueda also believes in treating his patients as if he was treating his own family; you can trust you will enter a trusting and long-term relationship and have some of the best radial tunnel syndrome treatment Palm Beach can offer.


Unfortunately radial tunnel syndrome is frequently misdiagnosed as tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis). In tennis elbow the majority of the tenderness occurs at the tendon insertion into the outer elbow bones. The tenderness in radial tunnel is farther down than the elbow, usually about 2 inches. In cases where the diagnosis is difficult to differentiate, a diagnostic injection with local anesthesia into the radial tunnel can confirm the presence of radial tunnel over lateral epicondylitis.

Patients with classic history, symptoms, and exam who have failed conservative treatment are good candidates for the procedure.

Complications are very rare in radial tunnel surgery; it is a very safe procedure. Some of the uncommon risks include infection and bleeding of the surgical site. There are also other major complications that are very unlikely including persistent pain and nerve injury.

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