Radial nerve compression: anatomical perspective and clinical consequences

Neurosurg Rev. 2023 Feb 13;46(1):53. doi: 10.1007/s10143-023-01944-2.


The radial nerve is the biggest branch of the posterior cord of the brachial plexus and one of its five terminal branches. Entrapment of the radial nerve at the elbow is the third most common compressive neuropathy of the upper limb after carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndromes. Because the incidence is relatively low and many agents can compress it along its whole course, entrapment of the radial nerve or its branches can pose a considerable clinical challenge. Several of these agents are related to normal or variant anatomy. The most common of the compressive neuropathies related to the radial nerve is the posterior interosseus nerve syndrome. Appropriate treatment requires familiarity with the anatomical traits influencing the presenting symptoms and the related prognoses. The aim of this study is to describe the compressive neuropathies of the radial nerve, emphasizing the anatomical perspective and highlighting the traps awaiting physicians evaluating these entrapments.

Keywords: Arcade of Frohse; Entrapment; Posterior interosseus nerve syndrome; Radial nerve compression; Radial tunnel syndrome; Wartenberg syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Elbow Joint* / innervation
  • Humans
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes* / surgery
  • Radial Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Radial Nerve / surgery
  • Radial Neuropathy* / etiology
  • Radial Neuropathy* / surgery
  • Upper Extremity