Recurrent branch of the median nerve

The recurrent branch of the median nerve is the branch of the median nerve which supplies the thenar muscles.[1] It is also occasionally referred to as the thenar branch, or the thenar muscular branch, of the median nerve. In the thenar eminence it provides motor innervation to:

Recurrent branch of the median nerve
Superficial palmar nerves. (Recurrent branch labeled at center left as "Muscular to abductor, opponens, and flexor brevis pollicis.")
Frommedian nerve
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

An earlier branch of the median nerve also supplies the lumbricals 1 & 2. All other intrinsic muscles of the hand receive their motor innervation from branches of the ulnar nerve.

It usually passes distal to the transverse carpal ligament.[2]

It ends in the opponens pollicis.[3]

This particular nerve is also called "Million Dollar Nerve" because injury to this nerve during carpal tunnel surgery can lead to a million dollar lawsuit. Injury to this nerve can lead to loss of function of the thumb. Such injury can happen if the transverse carpal tunnel ligament (flexor retinaculum) is transected too radially. The possibility of injury to this nerve is even greater when it runs through the ligament without any curling at the distal part of the ligament.[4]


  1. Median nerve
  2. Kozin SH (1998). "The anatomy of the recurrent branch of the median nerve". J Hand Surg [Am]. 23 (5): 852–8. doi:10.1016/S0363-5023(98)80162-7. PMID 9763261.
  3. Ellis, Harold; Susan Standring; Gray, Henry David (2005). Gray's anatomy: the anatomical basis of clinical practice. St. Louis, Mo: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone. p. 728. ISBN 0-443-07168-3.
  4. Christian, de Virgilio; Paul N, Frank; Areg, Grigorian (10 January 2015). Surgery: A Case Based Clinical Review. Springer. p. 316. ISBN 9781493917266. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
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