What is Wrist Drop ? Wrist drop, also known as radial nerve palsy, occurs when damaged occurs to the radial nerve, which travels down the arm and controls the movement of the triceps muscles.  This nerve also controls the movement of the wrist extensors (backward bending of the wrist), and aids in the movement of the wrist and fingers. It also provides sensation to the back of the hand and part of the forearm.
The wrist and hand will hang flaccidly in flexion position when we attempt to bring the arm in extended position.
Some causes of radial nerve palsy are:

  1. Trauma – eg. Fracture of the humerus
  2. Compression – eg. Prolonged use of crutches, sleeping with arm trapped under our body, wearing tight bracelets or watches for prolonged period
  3. Injury during surgery
  4. Inflammatory conditions – eg. Radial neuritis, conditions that cause nerve inflammation

Symptoms of radial nerve palsy:

  1. Wrist drop: Inability to extend the wrist and fingers
  2. Difficulty in gripping: weakness in hand grip strength
  3. Numbness/tingling: sensation changes on back of forearm and hand
  4. Pain: Depending on the causes, pain may be associated

Treatment for wrist drop:

  1. Immobilization: If injury is due to fracture or dislocation, the arm may need to be immobilized to allow for healing.
  2. Bracing: Splints or braces used to support the arm and wrist
  3. Physiotherapy: Exercises to improve wrist’s range of motion and muscle strength
  4. Surgery: In severe cases where the nerve is compressed, surgery may be needed to relieve compression or repair the nerve.

Do not hesitate to contact healthcare provider or physiotherapist should you have experience any of the above symptoms!
Prepared by:

Cornelia Kueh Shu Wen

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