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Physical Therapy For Injured Radial Nerve

Woman holding her wrist -

Physical Therapy For Injured Radial Nerve

The radial nerve is responsible for controlling the wrist, fingers, and triceps. It runs down the back of your arm. Any injury to the radial nerve may result in loss of sensation in some part of the body, burning pain, and wrist drop. A radial injury could occur due to a variety of reasons. Common causes include sports injury, breaking your arm, overusing your arm, sleeping with a bad posture, putting pressure on the arm, lumps in the body that compress the nerves. Physiotherapy can help remedy minor cases of radial nerve injury within 12 weeks. The alternative surgical procedure, for more extreme cases, has a 6 to 8 month recovery period. Read on to find out the benefits of physical therapy for radial nerve injury.

Symptoms of Radial Nerve Injury

Symptoms of radial nerve injury include some abnormal feeling or sensation in the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Burning pain may be felt in the arms. You may be unable to straighten your wrist and fingers. Sometimes, you may even experience difficulty, straightening the arm at the elbow. During diagnosis, the physiotherapist will check these areas for such symptoms.

Physical Therapy For Radial Nerve Injury

Physical therapy helps strengthen your arms, to avoid the risk of radial nerve injury. It teaches proper balance exercises, to avoid falls. The correct posture at the workplace and during sleep is also taught to the patient. Physical therapy can help you manage medical conditions, such as diabetes and kidney stones, thus, preventing the risk of radial nerve injury.

A physiotherapist uses modalities such as electrical stimulation (TENS), to help with the pain from the radial nerve. The electrical impulses sent from the TENS unit help desensitize the radial nerve endings. Physical therapy involves the use of massage therapy. Massage therapy can help reduce any swelling that compresses the radial nerve. This happens because massage therapy helps drain fluids from lymph channels.

Most importantly, physical therapy facilitates the recovery of an injured radial nerve, by improving blood circulation. It also returns mobility to the wrist and fingers through gripping exercises. These gripping exercises help with conditions such as wrist drop.


Minor cases of radial nerve injury, given time, heal by themselves. Physical therapy only assists with the recovery.

Prevention Of Radial Nerve Injury

  • Avoid repetitive arm movements.
  • Do not stay long in cramped spaces or positions that restrict your arm movement.
  • At work and during sleep, adopt a healthy posture and switch between tasks often.

Radial nerve injury can aggravate to radial nerve palsy, a much more serious condition. Get in touch with an expert physiotherapist if you notice symptoms of radial nerve injury.