Median Nerve Distribution

The median nerve provides sensory and motor innervation to the anterior compartment of the forearm and hand.

  • Motor branches
    • Pronator teres
    • Flexor carpi radialis
    • Flexor carpi sublimis
  • Anterior interosseus (motor)
    • Flexor pollicis longus
    • Flexor digitorum profundus to 2nd & 3rd fingers
    • Pronator quadratus
  • Palmar cutaneous
    • Sensory distribution: Skin over thenar eminence
  • Terminal motor
    • Abductor pollicis brevis
    • Opponens pollicis
    • Lumbricals: 1st & 2nd
    • ± Flexor pollicis brevis: Also innervated by ulnar nerve
  • Terminal sensory
    • Sensory to palmar surface of thumb, 2nd, 3rd & lateral 1/2 of 4th finger

Physical exam for different muscles supplied by median nerve

  • Flexor digitorum superficialis: patient flexes fingers at PIP joint against resistance
  • Flexor digitorum profundus: patient flexes fingers at DIP joint against resistance
  • Flexor pollicis longus (anterior interosseous nerve): flexes distal phalanx of thumb against resistance
  • Abductor pollicis brevis: patient abducts thumb at right angles to palm against resistance
  • Opponens pollicis: patient touches base of little finger with the thumb, examiner tries to pull  apart
  • 1st lumbrical interosseous: patient extends finger at the PIP joint against resistance with the MCP joint hyperextended and fixed
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4 thoughts on “Median Nerve Distribution

  1. I’m not a medical student, just a person trying to look up images to understand the median nerve and it’s functions. Anyways, I just wanted to tell you how wonderful and helpful your sketches have been :) good luck with your studies and thank you for making your work available to others.

  2. im in my last weeks of physiotherapy at uni before heading on my placement year and i wish i had found these pictures earlier in my degree!! thank you thank you!!

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