Radial nerve mobilization reduces lateral elbow pain and provides short-term relief in computer users

Computer users could be at risk of lateral elbow pain. It is theorized that adverse mechanical tension can develop in the radial nerve with sustained keyboarding as a result of sustained static work of the elbow extensor muscles. Neural mobilization has been recommended as a potential treatment. 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. 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 following treatment and the scores compared using a paired t-test by the first author. The mean NRS scores decreased significantly from 5.7 (1.1) to 3.8 (1.4) (p<0.000; t value=8.07).

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