PT on the Net Research

Radial Tunnel Syndrome


I have a client who has been diagnosed with radial tunnel syndrome. He already has degenerative disc disease, which we've worked on and is fully under control. I've researched RTS extensively and have concluded that in order to correct, one must avoid the aggravating activities that caused the problem: limit rotation, avoid wrist bending and receive treatment (i.e., heat, ice, ultrasound, etc.). My client is in great shape and wants to continue training during the rehab process. Without placing bars on his back and limiting gripping, what types of exercises and equipment would best be suited for us to use?


Radial tunnel syndrome is an unusual type of nerve entrapment that is sometimes confused with or can develop at the same time as tennis elbow. Exercises your client can do without aggravating his radial tunnel syndrome or degenerative disc disease include the following:

  1. Front Plank* - Prone position, rest on elbows and toes, draw belly button in tight toward the spine, hold hips up for as long as is tolerated.
  2. Side Plank - Same as above except on your side, elbow directly under shoulder, feet on top of each other or top foot in front of the other.
  3. Cobra - Prone with hips over exercise ball, draw belly button in and lift trunk squeezing inner thighs, make sure not to overextend.
  4. Leg Curl - Performed on machine or with ball.
  5. Leg Extension Machine
  6. Leg Press
  7. One Leg Squat - Stand on one leg, lower body toward 90 degrees keeping knee over ankle.
  8. Calf Raise - Performed either on one or two legs. Stand with ball of foot on step or platform.
  9. Chest Flys w/Open Hand - Position handle of a resistance band or cable machine over the underside of the wrist, perform chest fly.
  10. Reverse Flys w/Open Hand - Same as above except with the handle on the topside of the wrist and performing a reverse fly.
  11. Band Pulldowns w/Open Hand - With end of band secured at shoulder height in a door, place underside of wrists through the handles of band, arms straight, pull handles down to side.
  12. Open Hand Shoulder Raises w/Band - Stand on one end of band, place open hand through handle, lift to the front, side or back.
  13. Crunches and Side Crunches on Ball - Hands over head or do them slower to increase difficulty.
  14. Russian Twists - Head and shoulders on ball, arms straight up with hand together, rotate at the hips until side of the shoulder is on the ball, repeat motion to the other side.
  15. Bird Dogs - On all fours, raise one arm and the opposite leg, keeping both straight, hold a few seconds and repeat on the other side.

Strength training in the pool could also be very beneficial since it’s easier on the back and does not require gripping anything.

* For examples of these exercises, please search the PTN Exercise Library.