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Elbow Exam

Peripheral Nerve Palpation

November 23rd, 2019


  • Feel For

  • A palpable, enlarged peripheral nerve - often more than 5mm in diameter.
  • Common Sites to Palpate

  • Ulnar nerve - between the medial epicondyle and olecranon at the elbow
  • Median nerve - over the palmar aspect of the wrist
  • Radial nerve - in the snuffbox
  • Causes of Peripheral Nerve Enlargement

  • Leprosy
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy

Ulnar Nerve Subluxation

  • How to Elicit

  • Palpate the ulnar nerve while the patient flexes and extends their elbow. Note whether the ulnar nerve is transposed anteriorly over the medial epicondyle.
  • Significance

  • Ulnar nerve subluxation is often normal, though may be a cause of cubital tunnel syndrome.
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