Versailles - 78000

Anatomy of the radial nerve

August 06, 2019 Marie Messager - Osteopath Versailles 78000 Yvelines Anatomy

Presentation of the radial nerve

It is a mixed nerve, the most voluminous and it deals mainly with the extension of the arm.

Origin of the radial nerve

The radial nerve (C6-T1) originates from the dividing branch of the posterior bundle.

Path of the radial nerve

  • It runs in the posteroinferior part of the axillary fossa with a downward and outward oblique path
  • It travels to the posterior compartment of the arm and crosses the inferior axillary space where it is accompanied by the deep brachial artery.
  • It then travels obliquely outward and downward in the radial nerve groove to the lower end of this groove.
  • It passes back into the anterior compartment by crossing the lateral inter-muscular septum at the level of the arch of the vastus lateralis muscle.
    It goes into the lateral bicipital groove to divide into 2 terminals.

Collaterals of the radial nerve


In the back of the arm

  • Superior nerve of the vastus medialis
  • Nerve of the long triceps
  • Vastus lateralis nerve
  • Post cutaneous nerve of the arm


After the radial groove

  • Post cutaneous nerve of the forearm (originates in the groove)
  • Outer skin vein
  • Lower nerve of the vastus medialis and anconeus


In the external bicipital groove

  • Nerve of the radial brachio
  • Nerve of the LERC and CERC

Terminations of the radial nerve

Superficial branch of the radial nerve

Origin: originates in the lateral bicipital gutter

Course: descends downward into the aponeurosis of the brachio radial muscle and runs laterally along the radial artery. It becomes dorsal and subcutaneous in the lower ¼ of the forearm

Terminations: it ends in 3 branches above the radial styloid:

  • Lateral branch: proper digital nerve lateral to the thumb and thenaric branch
  • Middle branch: common dorsal nerves of the2nd and3rd space
  • Medial branch: nerve communicating with the ulnar nerve

Deep branch of the radial nerve

Origin: originates in the lateral bicipital gutter

Path: runs backwards and downwards to pass under an arch that joins the CERC and the aponeurosis of the flexors, then it passes into the 2 heads of the supinator muscle, giving collaterals. It then travels between the 2 muscle planes of the posterior compartment.

Termination: it divides into 2 nerves:

  • One for the innervation of all the muscles of the deep layer
  • Another one innervating all the muscles of the superficial layer of the posterior lodge

Radial nerve territories

Motor territory of the radial nerve

  • Forearm: all the posterior and lateral lodge
  • Arms: all the posterior lodge

Sensory territory of the radial nerve

  • Arm: posterior and posterolateral aspect of the elbow
  • Forearm: posterior face
  • Hand: dorsal side outside the axis of the third except for P2 and P3

Radial nerve root canal syndromes

  • Root canal syndrome in the lower axillary space
  • Root canal syndrome in the sulcus and especially in the vastus lateralis band
  • Root canal syndrome under the aponeurotic expansion between the CERC and the flexor aponeurosis
  • Root canal syndrome between the 2 chiefs of the supinator muscle

Marie Messager
Osteopath in Versailles Chantiers
78 - Yvelines

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