Arm Stretch

Arm Stretch

Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Causes

Radial tunnel syndrome occurs when the radial nerve is compressed. This can happen if the radial tunnel is too small.  Repetitive movements, such as twisting movements of the forearm, forceful wrist movements, gripping, and pinching can irritate, stretch, or compress the nerve. This type of injury can be caused by your job, such as construction or manufacturing, or by a direct blow to the forearm or elbow.

Symptoms

Radial tunnel syndrome causes an aching pain in the forearm, and the pain is centered a few inches below the elbow joint. The pain may become worse with wrist extension, turning of the palm upward, or holding something with the arm is straight out. The forearm, wrist, and hand may feel weak. One may have difficulty extending the wrist, which is termed “wrist drop.”

Diagnosis

Your doctor can diagnose radial tunnel syndrome by reviewing your medical history and examining your arm.  You should tell your doctor about your activities, injuries, and symptoms. X-rays will be performed to check for abnormalities that may be affecting the nerve. Pinpointing the location of the pain source is necessary to distinguish radial tunnel syndrome from other conditions.

Treatment

The most important way you can relieve your symptoms is to avoid the repetitive movements that caused the problem.  If repetitive movements are part of your job, you should take frequent breaks and modify work duties. A physical therapist can show you ways of changing your physical activity to put less stress and irritation on the radial nerve. Your therapist can assist in choosing a splint that will position the arm to allow the radial nerve to heal. Your therapist will use modalities, such as icing and heat, to ease your pain.

Therapeutic Exercise Program for Radial Tunnel Syndrome

arm stretchTo ensure that this exercise program is safe and effective for you, it should be performed under your doctor’s
supervision. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about which exercises will best help you meet your rehabilitation
goals.
Radial tunnel syndrome is a painful condition caused by pressure on the radial nerve – one of the three main nerves in
your arm. The most common place for compression of the radial nerve is at the elbow where the nerve enters a tight
tunnel made by muscle, bone, and tendon.

Purpose of Program

Exercises to help the radial nerve slide through the tunnel at the elbow can improve symptoms. Stretching and strengthening the muscles of the forearm can also help to relieve pain and tenderness. Following a well-structured conditioning program will help you return to daily activities, as well as sports and other recreational pastimes.

Length of program:

This exercise program for radial tunnel syndrome should be continued for 6 to 12 weeks, unless otherwise specified by your doctor or physical therapist. After your recovery, these exercises can be continued as a maintenance program.

Do not ignore pain:

You should not feel significant pain during an exercise. If your elbow pain steadily worsens, if the exercises increase the pain, or if the pain does not improve after you have performed the exercises for 6 to 12 weeks, talk to your doctor or physical therapist. Ask questions: If you are not sure how to do an exercise, or how often to do it, contact your doctor or physical therapist.  

1. Wrist Extension Stretch

Equipment needed: None

Repetitions:  5 reps,
4x a day
Days Per Week: 5 to 7

Step-by-step directions

  •  Straighten your arm and bend your wrist back as if signaling someone to “stop.” 
  •  Use your opposite hand to apply gentle pressure across the palm and pull it toward you until you feel a stretch on the inside of your forearm. 
  • Hold the stretch for 15 seconds. 
  • Repeat 5 times, then perform this stretch on the other arm.

Additional instructions: This stretch should be done throughout the day, especially before activity.
After recovery, this stretch should be included as part of a warm-up to activities that involve gripping, such as gardening, tennis, and golf.

Tip Do not lock your elbow.

 

Wrist Extension Stretch

2. Wrist Flexion Stretch

Equipment needed: None

Repetitions:  5 reps,
4x a day
Days Per Week: 5 to 7

Step-by-step directions

• Bend your elbow at the side of your body with your palm facing the ceiling.
• Use your opposite hand to hold at your wrist and gently turn your forearm further into the palm-up position until you feel a stretch.
• Hold the stretch for 15 seconds.
• Repeat 5 times, then perform this stretch on the other arm.

Additional instructions: This stretch will help with activities that require a “palm up” position, gripping an object, and/or twisting (such as when using a screwdriver).

Tip Be sure to hold at your wrist – not your hand – to turn your forearm.

Wrist Supination