The diagnosis of radial nerve entrapment is performed through physical orthopedic testing and imaging. If you think you’ve injured your radial nerve seek advice from your doctor or local osteopath or physiotherapist. Your healthcare professional will ask you about your symptoms and your clinical history trying to pinpoint the cause of injury.
During the physical examination, you will be asked to move your wrist, arm, and hand. The quantity and quality of movement will be compared to your unaffected arm. An assessment of the power and integrity of the nerves in your upper extremity will also be performed. The healthcare professional will check for any weakness or reduction in muscle tone.
Orthopedic tests will then be carried out. The most commonly used tests for radial tunnel assessment are: resisted forearm supination and resisted middle finger extension. The tests are considered positive if they cause pain.
Depending on the severity and presentation of your symptoms, the healthcare professional may refer you for further examinations. These may include blood tests to exclude any vitamin deficiency, kidney issues or changing in thyroid function. These tests are useful to check for any signs of other conditions that can cause damage to your nerves, such as diabetes or liver disease.
Your doctor may also refer you for a CT scan or an MRI to look for diseases within your head, neck or in the shoulders area. Typically issues in those areas may cause pressure on your radial nerve.
Among the other diagnostic imaging that your GP can prescribe there is also the electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction test. The purpose of these tests are to measure the quality of your nerve impulses and show whether there is damage to the radial nerve.