Radial neuropathy

Mazen M Dimachkie MD (

Dr. Dimachkie, Director of the Neuromuscular Disease Division and Executive Vice Chairman for Research Programs, Department of Neurology, The University of Kansas Medical Center, received honorariums from ArgenX, Cello, Corbus, CSL-Behring, EcoR1, Kezar, Momenta, NuFactor, Octapharma, Orphazyme, RMS Medical, Sanofi Genzyme, Shire Takeda, Spark Therapeutics, and Ra Pharma/UCB Biopharma for speaking engagements or consulting work, and grants from Alexion, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Amicus, Biomarin, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Catalyst, Corbus, CSL-Behring, FDA/OOPD, GlaxoSmithKline, Genentech, Grifols, Kezar, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, MDA, Novartis, Sanofi Genzyme, Octapharma, Orphazyme, Sarepta Therapeutics, Shire Takeda, Spark, Ra Pharma/UCB Biopharma, Viromed and TMA.

Randolph W Evans MD, editor. (

Dr. Evans of Baylor College of Medicine received honorariums from Allergan, Amgen, Biohaven, Lilly, Novartis, and Teva for speaking engagements.

Originally released April 5, 1999; last updated December 31, 2020; expires December 31, 2023


In this article, the author reviews the clinical presentation and treatment of radial neuropathies. A systematic literature review indicated that 11.8% of humeral fractures are associated with radial neuropathy. Electromyography and nerve conduction studies play a critical role in assessing radial neuropathies, including their pathophysiology, severity, prognosis, and management.

Historical note and terminology

Lateral elbow pain was first described in 1873 (Runge 1873). A decade later, posterior interosseous nerve entrapment within the supinator muscle was speculated to be the cause of “Lawn tennis arm” (Morris 1882). In 1932, entrapment of the superficial radial nerve was first recognized (Wartenberg 1954). “Saturday night palsy” was felt to be caused by compression of the radial nerve during sleep (Sunderland 1945). During World Wars I and II, shrapnel was the most common cause of injury to the radial nerve (Haymaker and Woodhall 1953).

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