Radial nerve

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Template:Infobox Nerve Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

The radial nerve is a nerve in the human body that supplies the triceps brachii muscle of the arm, as well as all 12 muscles in the posterior osteofascial compartment of the forearm.

It originates from the posterior cord of the brachial plexus with roots from C5, 6, 7, 8, & T1.

The radial nerve and its branches supply the dorsal muscles, such as triceps brachii, the extrinsic extensors of the wrist and hands, and the cutaneous nerve supply to most of the back of the hand. (The ulnar nerve cutaneously innervates the back of the little finger.)

The radial nerve divides into a deep branch, (which becomes the posterior interosseous nerve), and continues as the superficial branch which goes on to innervate the dorsum (back) of the hand.


The radial nerve originates as a terminal branch of the posterior cord of the brachial plexus. It goes through the arm, first in the posterior compartment of the arm, and later in the anterior compartment of the arm, and continues in the forearm.

In arm

From the brachial plexus, it travels posteriorly through what often called the triangular interval (US) or lower triangular space (UK).

The radial nerve enters the arm behind the axillary artery/brachial artery, and it then travels posteriorly on the medial side of the arm.

After giving off branches to the long and lateral heads of the triceps brachii, it enters a groove on the humerus, the radial sulcus.

Along with the deep brachial artery, the radial nerve winds around in the groove (between the medial and lateral heads of the triceps) towards the forearm, running laterally on the posterior aspect of the humerus.

While in the groove, it gives off a branch to the medial head of the triceps brachii.

The radial nerve emerges from the groove on the lateral aspect of the humerus.

At this point, it pierces the lateral intermuscular septum and enters the anterior compartment of the arm.

It continues its journey inferiorly between the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles.

When the radial nerve reaches the distal part of the humerus, it passes in front of the lateral epicondyle and continues in the forearm.

In forearm

In the forearm, it branches into a superficial branch (primarily sensory) and a deep branch (primarily motor).


The following are branches/innervations of the radial nerve (including the superficial branch of the radial nerve and the deep branch of the radial nerve/posterior interosseous nerve).


Cutaneous innervation is provided by the following nerves:

The superficial branch of the radial nerve provides sensory innervation to much of the back of the hand, including the web of skin between the thumb and index finger.


Muscular branches of the radial nerve:

Deep branch of the radial nerve:

Posterior interosseous nerve (a continuation of the deep branch after the supinator):

The radial nerve (and its deep branch) provides motor innervation to the muscles in the posterior compartment of the arm and forearm, which are mostly extensors.

Additional images

See also

External links

Template:Brachial plexus

Template:WikiDoc Sources

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