Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms

Wrist Drop Overview

What is wrist drop?
A person with wrist drop is unable to extend, or raise the hand at the wrist. Wrist drop is caused by damage to the radial nerve, which stimulates the muscles in the forearm to extend the wrist. The radial nerve may be damaged by a direct injury to the nerve, or by injuries to the structures around the nerve, which place pressure on the nerve.

What are the symptoms of wrist drop?
Symptoms of wrist drop include wrist weakness, resulting in the inability to raise the hand at the wrist. Additional symptoms may include wrist pain, wrist tenderness, or wrist swelling, wrist deformity, hand numbness (unilateral), and hand weakness (unilateral).

How does the doctor treat wrist drop?
Treatment for wrist drop includes removing the cause of pressure against the nerve and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery is required to repair the nerve.

Continue to Wrist Drop Symptoms

Last Updated: Feb 12, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Wrist Drop References
  1. Ameh V, Crane S. Nerve injury following shoulder dislocation: the emergency physician's perspective. Eur J Emerg Med. 2006 Aug;13(4):233-5. [16816589]
  2. Chan RK. Splinting for peripheral nerve injury in upper limb. Hand Surg. 2002 Dec;7(2):251-9. [12596288]
  3. Shao YC, Harwood P, Grotz MR, Limb D, Giannoudis PV. Radial nerve palsy associated with fractures of the shaft of the humerus: a systematic review. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2005 Dec;87(12):1647-52. [16326879]
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