Pain symptoms felt in the forearm are referred to as radial tunnel syndrome (RTS). With RTS, symptoms often triggered by movement of the affected arm are linked with the radial nerve, one of the three main nerves located in the arm. Initially, treatment often involves rest, modification of activities, and the use of over-the-counter medications to reduce swelling. If these treatments aren’t effective, radial tunnel injections may provide relief.
Radial tunnel injections are placed directly into the radial tunnel where the radial nerve is located. The nerve travels alongside the muscles and bones of the forearm and elbow. The injections typically include a local anesthetic, with the purpose being to minimize any discomfort from the shot itself. The anesthetic also numbs the affected nerve and provides immediate relief while also giving the other medications in the injection time to work.
Minimizing Inflammation From RTS
Radial tunnel injections also include a corticosteroid. It’s the corticosteroid that provides longer lasting relief of symptoms from radial tunnel syndrome. Produced synthetically for use in the shots, this class of steroid hormones relieves the inflammation that’s often primarily responsible for placing extra pressure on the radial nerve. By the time the local anesthetic wears off, the corticosteroid is usually providing relief.
Effectiveness of Injections
Radial tunnel injections tend to be highly effective for most patients who receive them to manage RTS symptoms. The relief experienced from the injections often allows patients to perform strength and flexibility exercises or explore other treatment options without distracting pain. While everyone’s experience with RT injections various, results from injections typically last anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
When Injections Wear Off
After a radial tunnel injection wears off, patients are usually evaluated again to determine if there is any improvement. If symptoms are the same or worse, other treatment options may be suggested. Generally, injections can be safely repeated, although the actual source of RTS symptoms will not be treated.
Symptoms of radial tunnel syndrome can be similar to tennis elbow and similar conditions that affect other nerves and tissues within the arm. Therefore, it’s important to achieve a positive diagnosis before proceeding with radial tunnel injections. One way of doing this is with nerve block injections. If pain goes away from the injections, then a diagnosis of RTS can be made and appropriate treatments can be recommended.