Are you or a loved one dealing with radial nerve palsy (RNP)? This condition makes grip strength drop by 77%. But, there’s hope with modern treatments that can bring back function and movement.

Tendon transfer surgery is a hopeful option for RNP that doesn’t recover. It uses the Merle D’Aubigné method to move key muscles. This helps improve wrist and finger movement. The goal is to give you the best chance of getting better.

This article looks at how well the surgery works for non-recovering RNP. It’s important to know about the latest treatments and why they work. This knowledge can help you play an active part in getting better.

Understanding Radial Nerve Palsy

Radial nerve palsy (RNP) causes the inability to move the wrist and fingers. It also reduces grip strength by up to 77%. This condition greatly affects daily life and activities.

Causes and Symptoms

RNP can be caused by various things like fractures or injuries. You might notice your wrist dropping, it’s hard to extend your fingers, and feeling less on the back of your hand. These symptoms can make simple tasks like holding things or opening doors difficult.

Anatomy of the Radial Nerve

The radial nerve starts in the upper arm, controlling the triceps and extensors. If it’s damaged, you might face difficulties moving your wrist and fingers. This leads to trouble with motion and using your hand.

radial nerve anatomy

Diagnosis and Evaluation

It’s crucial to correctly diagnose radial nerve palsy (RNP) to treat it effectively. Doctors use a detailed physical exam, imaging tests, and electrodiagnostic studies for this. These steps are vital in creating a plan that works for you.

Physical Examination

Your doctor will check for key signs of RNP during the exam. This includes wrist drop and weak fingers, along with feeling less on the top of your hand. They’ll also look at your reflexes and muscle strength to see how bad the nerve damage is.

Imaging Tests

X-rays and MRI scans help find out why you have RNP. They look for things like fractures or dislocations. Knowing what’s causing your RNP helps doctors focus on the best treatments for you.

Nerve Conduction Studies

Nerve conduction studies and EMG tests provide detailed info about your nerve injury. They show its location and how serious it is. These tests also help predict how well you might recover and point to the right treatments for you.

radial nerve palsy

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

In the start, if you have radial nerve palsy, using splints and braces can be key in getting better. They stop your muscles from getting too tight and keep your joints moving well.

Splinting and Bracing

Your doctor might suggest wearing a splint or brace for your wrist and fingers. This helps the irritated nerve to heal. It’s a good plan if your nerve isn’t badly hurt.

Physical Therapy and Exercises

Physical therapy and specific exercises also really help. They aim to get back your strength, keep muscles from locking up, and improve how well your hand works. Doing these together boosts your chances of getting fully better.

Radial nerve palsy exercises

Surgical Interventions

Sometimes, conservative treatments don’t work well enough. So, surgical options might be needed for radial nerve palsy (RNP). These types of surgery aim to release nerve pressure, help nerves grow back, or fix function using tendon moves.

Nerve Decompression

Surgery may involve nerve decompression. It tries to reduce pressure on the radial nerve and help you recover. Doctors release any tight spots along the nerve, like scar tissue or bone problems.

Nerve Grafting

When the nerve damage is severe, nerve grafting could be considered. This means creating a ‘bridge’ for the damaged nerve to heal. By using your own nerve tissue, it helps the nerve grow back and connect with your muscles again.

Tendon Transfers

For some non-recovering cases of RNP, tendon transfers may be the solution. A method like the modified Merle D’Aubigné can be used. It helps to move tendons in a way that allows your wrist and fingers to work properly again.

surgical interventions

The Modified Merle D’Aubigné Tendon Transfer Method

The modified Merle D’Aubigné tendon transfer method helps patients regain wrist and finger movement. It’s for those with radial nerve palsy who haven’t seen improvement. This surgery uses updated muscle transfer techniques to get better results than before.

The surgery follows several important steps:

  1. Move the pronator teres muscle to the extensor radialis brevis to fix wrist extension.
  2. Switch the flexor carpi radialis muscle to the extensor digitorum communis and extensor pollicis longus for finger extension.
  3. Use the palmaris longus to help the thumb move better with the abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis.

This method is a deep dive into fixing the challenges of radial nerve palsy. It offers better wrist and finger movement and overall hand function.


The outcome post-surgery is mainly positive for people with non-recovering RNP. Most patients report excellent or good results. This method can really make a difference, enhancing quality of life for these individuals.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

You may need tendon transfer surgery if you have non-recovering radial nerve palsy. After the surgery, you’ll need a period of rest followed by a rehab program. This program is key to gaining back strength, movement, and the use of your affected limb.

Post-Operative Care

In the beginning, you might have to wear a splint or cast to protect your surgery site. As you heal, your healthcare team will start you on exercises to move your limb. They will also begin other therapies to improve your function.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is very important for your recovery. Your therapist will help you get back to your usual daily activities and reach your full potential. They might teach you new skills, give you special tools, and show you how to solve any recovery hurdles.

radial nerve palsy rehabilitation

Radial nerve palsy treatment

Treating radical nerve palsy (RNP) involves surgical methods to restore function and movement. One successful method is the modified Merle D’Aubigné tendon transfer. It helps patients move their wrists and fingers again.

Surgical Techniques

Doctors also perform nerve decompression and grafting, along with tendon transfers, to treat RNP. These surgeries aim to release pressure on the nerve and support nerve regrowth. This improves the chances of recovering function.

Nerve Repair Strategies

There are new therapies being developed to boost nerve healing. Innovations like nerve conduits and guidance channels show promise. They could improve outcomes for those with severe nerve injuries or cases where the nerve doesn’t heal.

Emerging Therapies

Researchers are looking into two main areas for treating radial nerve palsy (RNP). These are stem cell therapy and nerve conduits and guidance channels. These new treatments offer hope for improving the lives of those with RNP.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is a new way to help nerves heal. It could make a big difference for people with RNP. This treatment uses the power of stem cells to fix nerves and help people move and feel better.

Nerve Conduits and Guidance Channels

In the field of biomaterials and tissue engineering, nerve conduits and guidance channels have been developed. These tools are designed to aid people with nerve injuries, including RNP. They work by helping nerves grow back together, guiding the healing of nerve fibers, and creating a good place for nerves to repair themselves.

Prognosis and Outlook

The outlook for people with radial nerve palsy (RNP) depends on a few factors. This includes how bad the nerve injury is, what caused it, and how it’s treated. Many can get a lot of function back and go back to their usual life with the right care. It’s key to find it early and act fast for the best chance at a full recovery without lasting problems.

How long it takes to get better can change a lot. Most RNP cases improve in about 12 weeks with the first treatments. Younger people and those with just a small bit of nerve damage often do better. Yet, tough situations or when surgery is needed might mean healing takes six to eight months.

Noting the odds are good with proper care is important. Staying in touch with your medical team and sticking to a rehab plan can really help. This increases your chance of getting back most, if not all, of your movement and daily life.

Prevention and Risk Reduction

Radial nerve palsy (RNP) is tough, but you can lower the risk and avoid it. Focus on safety at work and use good plans to stop injury. This way, you cut down your chance of getting this serious nerve problem.

Workplace Safety

If you do tasks again and again, sit funny, or work in risky spots, think about your safety. Work with your boss for a better work setup. Use desks that move, seats that support well, and tools that are kind to your body. This stops too much pressure on you and lowers your RNP risk.

Injury Prevention Strategies

Other than safe work, there are steps to keep you from RNP and similar injuries. Lift things right, keep your back straight, and watch how you move, especially if you do things over and over or in odd ways. For sleeping, use pillows or supports to keep your body in a good balance. This helps stop pressure on your nerves when you sleep.

Even if you can’t stop all RNP cases, you can do a lot to lower your risk. Put safety first, and deal well with dangers at work. This means you are taking an important step in staying healthy and enjoying life.

Coping and Support

Navigating through radial nerve palsy (RNP) challenges can be tough. But, the right support and resources can help you overcome them. Educating yourself is key to empowering your recovery journey.

Patient Education

It’s important to know why you have RNP, its signs, and how it’s treated. Your healthcare team should share lots of information with you. This includes details on the condition and recovery steps using the modified Merle D’Aubigné tendon transfer method.

This knowledge turns you into a key player in your recovery. It gives you a sense of control and confidence.

Support Groups and Resources

Talking to others facing RNP can make a world of difference. Joining support groups offers many benefits. They give you people to share with, emotional support, and practical tips.

Also, look for resources and online communities. They can guide you through recovery and help tackle daily challenges with RNP.

Remember, you’re not on this journey alone. With the support and resources around you, staying positive becomes easier. It helps you work towards regaining your independence.


Radial nerve palsy is a critical issue that can really change your life. Thanks to new treatments like the modified Merle D’Aubigné tendon transfer method, many people are able to get back to normal. With proper treatment, therapy, and a strong support system, those diagnosed with radial nerve palsy can do very well.

If this condition happens because of a humeral shaft fracture, up to 94% of people see improvement right away. After surgery, about 89% of these cases get better. The chances of getting radial nerve palsy right from the start are around 10%, which drops to 3-7% after surgery. Most of these issues, about 88% to 100%, solve themselves in a few weeks to a few months.

People with radial nerve palsy often face injuries from low-energy trauma, like falls. Half of them have spiral fractures and nearly 90% have breaks in the middle part of their humeral shaft. Also, about 56% of these people are men, with a median age of 49. After an injury, 4.1% of patients end up with radial nerve palsy.

It’s vital for healthcare providers to know what causes radial nerve palsy, its symptoms, and the latest treatments. This knowledge helps them give the best care to their patients. Advancements in treatments and ongoing research will keep making things better for those with radial nerve palsy.


What is radial nerve palsy and what are its symptoms?

Radial nerve palsy (RNP) means you can’t fully open your wrist and fingers. This also makes your hand grip weaker. You might notice your wrist dropping and find it hard to extend your fingers. You could also feel less in the back of your hand.

What causes radial nerve palsy?

Humerus fractures, puncture wounds, and pressure on the nerve can cause radial nerve palsy.

How is radial nerve palsy diagnosed?

Doctors will do a physical exam to check for wrist drop and weak finger movement. They also look for lack of feeling on the back of the hand. X-rays and MRI scans might be done to find the cause. Nerve tests help see how bad the nerve damage is.

What are the non-surgical treatment options for radial nerve palsy?

Early on, using a splint can stop your hand from getting stiff. This makes sure your joints stay flexible. Physical therapy and exercises can keep your muscles strong and help you recover.

What are the surgical treatment options for radial nerve palsy?

If surgery is needed, options include fixing the nerve, grafting it, or moving tendons. The modified Merle D’Aubigné transfer helps get your wrist and fingers working better if the nerve won’t heal.

What is the modified Merle D’Aubigné tendon transfer method?

This method moves muscles in your arm to help extend your wrist and fingers. It improves on past methods and aims to fully restore movement.

What is the recovery and rehabilitation process like for radial nerve palsy patients?

After surgery, you’ll need time when you can’t move your hand. Then, you’ll start rehab to make your hand strong again. Occupational therapy is key to getting back to normal activities.

What is the prognosis for patients with radial nerve palsy?

How well you recover from radial nerve palsy depends on many factors. But, with the right care, most people can get a lot of their hand function back.

How can radial nerve palsy be prevented?

Be careful at work and learn how to avoid injuries. This can lower your chances of getting radial nerve palsy or other nerve problems.

What kind of support and resources are available for patients with radial nerve palsy?

Knowing about your condition and treatments can give you strength. Joining support groups or finding helpful resources can make your journey easier and more positive.

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