Anatomy clinical correlates: Median, ulnar and radial nerves


00:00 / 00:00



Anatomy clinical correlates: Median, ulnar and radial nerves

Subspeciality surgery

Cardiothoracic surgery

Valvular heart disease: Clinical (To be retired)

Chest trauma: Clinical (To be retired)

Anatomy clinical correlates: Thoracic wall

Anatomy clinical correlates: Heart

Anatomy clinical correlates: Pleura and lungs

Anatomy clinical correlates: Mediastinum

ENT (Otolaryngology)

Anatomy clinical correlates: Bones, fascia and muscles of the neck

Anatomy clinical correlates: Skull, face and scalp

Anatomy clinical correlates: Trigeminal nerve (CN V)

Anatomy clinical correlates: Facial (CN VII) and vestibulocochlear (CN VIII) nerves

Anatomy clinical correlates: Glossopharyngeal (CN IX), vagus (X), spinal accessory (CN XI) and hypoglossal (CN XII) nerves

Anatomy clinical correlates: Ear

Anatomy clinical correlates: Temporal regions, oral cavity and nose

Anatomy clinical correlates: Vessels, nerves and lymphatics of the neck

Anatomy clinical correlates: Viscera of the neck


Traumatic brain injury: Clinical (To be retired)

Brain tumors: Clinical (To be retired)

Lower back pain: Clinical (To be retired)

Anatomy clinical correlates: Vertebral canal

Anatomy clinical correlates: Spinal cord pathways

Anatomy clinical correlates: Cerebral hemispheres

Anatomy clinical correlates: Anterior blood supply to the brain

Anatomy clinical correlates: Cerebellum and brainstem


Eye conditions: Refractive errors, lens disorders and glaucoma: Pathology review

Eye conditions: Retinal disorders: Pathology review

Eye conditions: Inflammation, infections and trauma: Pathology review

Anatomy clinical correlates: Olfactory (CN I) and optic (CN II) nerves

Anatomy clinical correlates: Oculomotor (CN III), trochlear (CN IV) and abducens (CN VI) nerves

Anatomy clinical correlates: Eye

Orthopedic surgery

Anatomy clinical correlates: Clavicle and shoulder

Anatomy clinical correlates: Axilla

Anatomy clinical correlates: Arm, elbow and forearm

Anatomy clinical correlates: Wrist and hand

Anatomy clinical correlates: Median, ulnar and radial nerves

Anatomy clinical correlates: Bones, joints and muscles of the back

Anatomy clinical correlates: Hip, gluteal region and thigh

Anatomy clinical correlates: Knee

Anatomy clinical correlates: Leg and ankle

Anatomy clinical correlates: Foot

Plastic surgery

Burns: Clinical (To be retired)


Penile conditions: Pathology review

Prostate disorders and cancer: Pathology review

Testicular tumors: Pathology review

Kidney stones: Clinical (To be retired)

Renal cysts and cancer: Clinical (To be retired)

Urinary incontinence: Pathology review

Testicular and scrotal conditions: Pathology review

Anatomy clinical correlates: Male pelvis and perineum

Anatomy clinical correlates: Other abdominal organs

Androgens and antiandrogens

PDE5 inhibitors

Adrenergic antagonists: Alpha blockers

Vascular surgery

Peripheral vascular disease: Clinical (To be retired)

Leg ulcers: Clinical (To be retired)

Aortic aneurysms and dissections: Clinical (To be retired)


Anatomy clinical correlates: Median, ulnar and radial nerves

USMLE® Step 1 questions

0 / 3 complete


USMLE® Step 1 style questions USMLE

of complete

A 35-year-old man is brought to the emergency department after a head-on motor vehicle collision. He was the restrained driver and used his arm to brace the impact. He did not strike his head or lose consciousness. Past medical history is noncontributory, and the patient does not take any medications.  Vitals are within normal limits. Physical examination demonstrates an inability to extend the right wrist and sensory loss over the posterior forearm and dorsolateral hand. Which of the following best describes the underlying mechanism of injury responsible for this patient’s condition?  



Viviana Popa, MD

Evan Debevec-McKenney

Ursula Florjanczyk, MScBMC

The median, ulnar and radial nerves course through the forearm and wrist, and they help coordinate the movement of our forearms and hands.

These nerves, however, are prone to injury because of various causes, and depending on which one of them is injured, that will result in characteristic symptoms that can help us recognize and identify it.

For the median nerve, the clinical manifestations depend on whether the lesion has occurred distally, as in carpal tunnel syndrome, or proximally, as in an anteriorly displaced portion of a medial supracondylar humerus fracture.

The most common cause of median nerve injury is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is when the tunnel in the wrist through which the median nerve passes becomes narrower and compresses the median nerve.

This can happen due to repetitive use, like typing on a keyboard, injuries like an anterior lunate dislocation, or associated with conditions such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, or in pregnancy.

Symptoms of median nerve injury would be pain and paraesthesia in the radial 3 and a half digits, weakness of the first and second lumbrical, thenar atrophy, and weakness of thumb abduction and opposition of the affected hand.

Specifically, the recurrent branch of the median nerve is what provides motor innervation to the thenar muscles of the hand, which are responsible for abduction, flexion and opposition, so with injuries, people may have issues opposing the thumb, and it may be difficult to perform actions like buttoning up a shirt.

Damage to the recurrent branch of the median nerve alone causes what is known as ‘ape hand’, which refers to atrophy of the thenar eminence and inability to oppose the thumb..

Damage to the entire median nerve at the level or the wrist, or distal median nerve, presents clinically as a “median claw”.


  1. "Essential Clinically Applied Anatomy of the Peripheral Nervous System in the Head and Neck" Academic Press (2016)
  2. "Neuromuscular Disorders of Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence" Elsevier (2014)
  3. "B D Chaurasia's Human Anatomy" Cbs Publisher & Distributors P Ltd (2009)
  4. "Risk of ulnar nerve injury during cross-pinning in supine and prone position for supracondylar humeral fractures in children: a recent literature review" European Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery & Traumatology (2019)
  5. "Rehabilitation of brachial plexus and peripheral nerve disorders" Neurological Rehabilitation (2013)
  6. "An Anomalous Pattern of Superficial Branch of Radial Nerve: A Cadaveric Case Report" International Journal of Morphology (2014)
  7. "Rapid ultrasonographic diagnosis of radial entrapment neuropathy at the spiral groove" Journal of the Neurological Sciences (2008)
  8. "Peripheral Nerve Injuries" Complications in Neuroanesthesia (2016)
  9. "Occupational mononeuropathies in industry" Handb Clin Neurol (2015)

Copyright © 2023 Elsevier, except certain content provided by third parties

Cookies are used by this site.

USMLE® is a joint program of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). COMLEX-USA® is a registered trademark of The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Inc. NCLEX-RN® is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are endorsed by nor affiliated with Osmosis or this website.