By Gary M. White, MD

Cheiralgia paraesthetica is a neuropathy of the hand generally caused by compression or injury to the superficial branch of the radial nerve. The most common cause is thought to be constriction of the wrist, as with a bracelet or watchband (hence reference to "wristwatch neuropathy"). It is especially associated with the use of handcuffs and is therefore commonly referred to as handcuff neuropathy.


The patient may complain of numbness, tingling, burning or pain on the back or side of the hand at the base of the thumb, but symptoms may extend up the back of the thumb and index finger and across the back of the hand. Since the nerve branch is sensory there is no motor impairment.


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