Peripheral neuropathies of the forearm and hand in rheumatoid arthritis: diagnosis and options for treatment

Rheumatol Int. 2008 Aug;28(10):951-7. doi: 10.1007/s00296-008-0630-8. Epub 2008 Jun 6.


Although the clinical hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) involves inflammatory joint disease, extra-articular manifestations may be evident in 20% of patients. Among them neurologic features involving both the peripheral and central nervous system are one of the more common, but little has been noticed about it in clinic. The same mechanisms participating in joint destruction, synovial inflammation, and vasculitis contribute to the various RA neurological complications. In this article, we reviewed clinical outcomes of peripheral neuropathies of the upper extremity associated with RA and discussed the proper diagnosis and operative indication. Magnetic resonance imaging and electrophysiological examination are the best tools to lead the final diagnosis of nerve palsy secondary to RA synovial cyst. Such neuropathies require consideration in the differential diagnosis of wrist and hand disability. Surgical decompression is recommended at prompt timing if neurophysiologic studies demonstrate denervation or significant motor abnormalities, or sensory symptoms progress despite adequate medication.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / etiology*
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / therapy
  • Forearm
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Ulnar Neuropathies / diagnosis
  • Ulnar Neuropathies / etiology*
  • Ulnar Neuropathies / therapy