Robert Wartenberg Syndrome and Sign: A Review Article

Stuart H. Kuschner1, *, Haben Berihun1
1 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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© 2021 Kuschner and Berihun

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 8635 W. 3rd Street Suite 990W, Los Angeles 90048 CA, USA; Tel:3104235900;



Robert Wartenberg, a European-American neurologist, was born in 1887 and died in 1956. His description of radial sensory nerve compression at the forearm is memorialized as Wartenberg’s syndrome. He recognized that involuntary abduction of the little finger could be caused by ulnar nerve palsy - a finding often called Wartenberg’s sign Syndrome and signs are reviewed, and a brief biography is presented.


To review Wartenberg’s sign and Wartenberg’s syndrome.


Compression of the superficial branch of the radial nerve, often called Wartenberg’s syndrome, is characterized by pain, paresthesia, and dysesthesia along the dorsoradial distal forearm. Non-operative treatment can include activity restriction and anti-inflammatory medication. If symptoms persist, surgical decompression of the radial nerve is an option. The abducted posture of the little finger - Wartenberg’s sign - can result from a low ulnar nerve palsy. Tendon transfer can be performed to correct this deformity.


Compression of the superficial branch of the radial nerve and abducted posture of the little finger were described by Robert Wartenberg and carry his name as eponymous syndrome and sign, respectively.

Keywords: Robert wartenberg, Wartenberg, Neurology, Nerve compression, Nerve palsy, Ulnar nerve, Radial nerve, Orthopedic, Surgery.