I have a constant and often quite severe burning pain in the back if my right hand, from the thumb to the middle of the hand and down to the wrist. I've been told that it's probably a problem with the radial nerve, and have been given various exercises to try to alleviate it but they haven't worked. An X-ray has shown obvious wear and tear to two vertebrae in my neck. Is there any cure for this?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

The radial nerve runs down the arm from the shoulder to the thumb side of the hand, and the area of pain that you describe - on the back of the thumb and hand - is where the radial nerve ends up. But if the radial nerve is the culprit, I am surprised that you are suffering from pain, rather than from either numbness or weakness, which are much more common symptoms of radial nerve problems. Another possibility is that the nerve root called C6 is being irritated or pinched as it comes out of the spinal cord and passes through the neck. The "wear and tear" that you can see on your neck X-ray may mean that a bone spur has grown that is pressing on the C6 nerve root. Physiotherapy and exercises may help. But if the pain persists, I think it would be wise to have some further investigations - possibly a chest X-ray, an MRI scan of the neck to see which nerve is under pressure, or an electrical test to see if the nerve impulses are being properly transmitted. Very occasionally this type of pain can be caused by a growth or tumour in the armpit or at the top of the lung that is causing pressure on a nerve. Even diabetes can cause nerve pain, so a blood or urine test may be sensible

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.