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Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Radial tunnel syndrome is caused by the squeezing of the radial nerve in tunnel near the elbow. Radial nerve is one the three nerves that travel from the arm to the hand. It goes down the back of the upper part of the arm, spirals and then crosses on the outside of the elbow before it goes down to the hand.

Patients suffering from radial tunnel syndrome experience pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow. These symptoms are almost the same as the symptoms of the tennis elbow, and the only thing that differentiates these pains is the location of the pain. In tennis elbow, pain is located at the lateral epicondyle and in radial tunnel syndrome it is couple of centimeters down the arm.

It’s not easy to diagnose radial tunnel syndrome, and there aren’t many tests available for exact diagnosis, because it is hard to spot the difference between tennis elbow and radial tunnel syndrome. Doctors might palpate the painful area, or use electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV), in order to make a proper diagnose.

The treatment includes pain management and corticosteroids, especially cortisone. Patients frequently try acupuncture or use blackstrap molasses as the way to ease the pain.

Surgical Procedure

Surgery is the option for patients that didn’t have success in treating the pain with any other medication or remedy after many months of treatment. The main goal of this surgical procedure is to relieve the pressure on the radial nerve and thus ease the pain for the patient. Surgeon usually makes an incision on the outside of the elbow, near the place of the increased pressure. After removing soft tissue, the surgeon checks all the possible places where radial nerve could be squeezed and finds out the spot that caused pain. He/she will expand the radial tunnel and in that way relieve pressure on the radial nerve. Surgery is usually finished by stitching of the skin.

This procedure doesn’t require staying in the hospital overnight, and can be done even in a regional anesthesia. This type of anesthesia will affect just the arm and make it irresponsible to pain.

Recovery

The first results might be seen a month or little bit longer after the surgery. There’s going to be some physical therapy and exercises, because your elbow and muscles will need to get stronger. For some time, you might be wearing straps and have some difficulties with normal daily activities. Full recovery is expected after 3 to 4 months after the surgery.

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