Diagnosing and Treating Wartenberg’s Syndrome

wartenbergs syndrome wrist pain and numbnessNerve compression of the upper extremities can cause a range of symptoms, including numbness along the top of the hand and fingers. One cause of these types of symptoms is a condition known as Wartenberg’s syndrome, also called isolated superficial radial neuropathy or cheiralgia paresthetica. Wartenberg’s syndrome occurs due to entrapment or compression of the radial sensory nerve at the level of the mid-distal anterolateral forearm and wrist. Dr. Williams has been able to treat patients who suffer from upper extremity pain and numbness and may recommend options such as nerve decompression surgery to ease symptoms associated with Wartenberg’s syndrome.

Causes and Symptoms of Wartenberg’s Syndrome

Wartenberg’s syndrome is a condition that most commonly affects women and people with diabetes. It may also be associated with De Quervain’s syndrome. There are a variety of causes of Wartenberg’s syndrome, including:

  • Wearing a tight cast due to a forearm fracture
  • Wearing tight bracelets, watches, or handcuffs
  • Having a minor trauma to the wrist
  • Repetitive motion of the wrist or ulnar deviation

Common symptoms of the condition are:

  • Burning
  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensation

Weakness is not associated with Wartenberg’s syndrome.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

If you are having symptoms of Wartenberg’s syndrome, a nerve specialist will conduct a physical exam. Tests such as a nerve conduction study may be done. MRI or radiography imaging may be ordered to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms, such as fractures or tumors. To determine the exact location and extent of injury, ultrasonography may be used to give a more reliable visual of the affected nerves. In addition, a local anesthetic may be injected. If it provides relief but then wears off and symptoms return, it can confirm a diagnosis of Wartenberg’s syndrome. 

Once a diagnosis is made, treatment options will be presented. To treat the condition, a peripheral nerve specialist may first recommend conservative treatment options such as:

  • Activity modification such as resting and avoiding wearing anything tight on the wrist
  • Splinting the wrist and forearm
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs

If conservative treatments are not effective, surgery may be recommended to decompress the nerve.

Contact Dr. Eric H. Williams for Help

If you have signs of Wartenberg’s syndrome, contact a nerve specialist as soon as possible. Dr. Williams can help ease your symptoms and get you back to enjoying your favorite activities as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment in the Baltimore office, contact us at (410) 709-3868 or fill out our contact form online.

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