|The suprascapular, axillary, and radial nerves.|
|Causes||Broken bone, Direct nerve injury|
|Diagnostic method||MRI, Ultrasound|
|Treatment||Corticosteroid, Pain medication|
Radial neuropathy (or radial mononeuropathy) is a type of mononeuropathy which results from acute trauma to the radial nerve that extends the length of the arm. It is known as transient paresthesia when sensation is temporarily abnormal.
Symptoms (and signs) of radial neuropathy vary depending on the severity of the trauma; however, common symptoms may include wrist drop, numbness (back of the hand and wrist), and inability to voluntarily straighten the fingers. Loss of wrist extension is due to loss of the ability to move of the posterior compartment of forearm muscles.
In the event of lacerations to the wrist area the symptom would therefore be sensory. Additionally, depending on the type of trauma other nerves may be affected such as the median nerve and axillary nerves.
There are many ways to acquire radial nerve neuropathy such as:
- Upper arm- causes could be a fracture of the bone which is usually the reason.
- Elbow -causes could be that the nerve could have been entrapped.
- Wrist -causes could be due to elbow deformity and soft-tissue masses
- Axilla- here the most common cause is compression.However a dislocation of the head of the bone (humerus) is a possible factor as well.Additionally it could also be due to brachial plexus compression.
The mechanism of radial neuropathy is such that it can cause focal demyelination and axonal problems/degeneration (which is nerve fiber reaction to insult, and therefore axon death occurs). These would be caused via laceration or compression of the nerve in question.
In terms of the diagnosis of radial neuropathy the following tests/exams can be done to ascertain the condition:
- Physical therapy or occupational therapy
- Surgery(depending on the specific area and extent of damage)
- Tendon transfer (the origin remains the same however insertion is moved)
In terms of prognosis radial neuropathy is not necessarily permanent, though sometimes there could be partial loss of movement/sensation. Complications may be possible deformity of the hand in some individuals.
If the injury is axonal (the underlying nerve fiber itself is damaged) recovery may take months or years and full recovery may never occur. EMG and nerve conduction studies are typically performed to diagnose the extent and distribution of the damage, and to help with prognosis for recovery.[medical citation needed]
Culture and society
There are a number of terms used to describe radial nerve injuries, which are dependent on the causation factor such as:
- Honeymoon palsy from another individual sleeping on and compressing one's arm overnight.
- Saturday night palsy from falling asleep with one's arm hanging over the arm rest of a chair, compressing the radial nerve.
- Squash palsy, from traction forces associated with the sport squash, happens to squash players during periods between matches.
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