Radial Nerve Mobilization Reduces Lateral Elbow Pain and Provides Short-Term Relief in Computer Users§

Vanitha Arumugam*, 1, Senthil Selvam 2, Joy C MacDermid 3
1 University of Western Ontario, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, London, Ontario, Canada
2 Vel’s School of Physiotherapy, Vel’s University, Chennai, India
3 McMaster University, School of Rehabilitation Science, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Clinical Research, Roth McFarlane Hand and Upper Limb Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital, London, Ontario, Canada

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© Arumugam et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the DB-222 Roth McFarlane Hand and Upper Limb Center, St Joseph’s Healthcare London, London, ON N6A 4L6, Canada; Tel: +1-519-646-6100, Ext. 64636; Fax: +1-519-646-6049; E-mails:,
§ This study was approved by the Health Sciences Research Ethics Board (HSREB) of the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, Chennai, India.


Study Design :

Prospective Experimental Study.

Background :

Computer users may be at risk of lateral elbow pain. It is theorized that adverse mechanical tension can arise in the radial nerve with sustained keyboarding due to sustained static work of the elbow extensor muscles. Neural mobilization has been suggested as a potential treatment.

Purpose :

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of neural mobilization of the radial nerve on a single occasion in terms of its ability to reduce lateral elbow pain.

Methods and Analysis :

Forty-one computer professionals (Mean age 46.7; S.D. 12.77), who had experienced lateral elbow pain for a mean of 2.87 months were recruited. The participants rated the pain using a verbal, numeric rating scale (NRS). Radial nerve tension was tested using the Upper limb Tension Test (ULTT) for radial nerve in both upper extremities. The radial nerve was mobilized using a series of 8 oscillations and repeated 3 times with a one minute rest in between. The NRS and ULLT were repeated after treatment and the scores compared using a paired t-test by the first author.

Results :

The mean NRS scores decreased significantly from 5.7 (1.1) to 3.8 (1.4) (p<0.000; t value=8.07).

Conclusion :

A single session of 3 neural mobilization resulted in a reduction of pain in computer users with lateral elbow pain. A long-term randomized trial is needed to determine the effects sustained over-time.

Keywords: Butler’s technique of neural mobilization, lateral elbow pain, neural tension testing, numerical rating scale..