Brachial Neuritis

A relatively rare condition, Brachial Neuritis may also be referred to as Brachial Plexus, Brachial Neuropathy, Parsonage Turner Syndrome, Idiopathic Brachial Plexopathy or Neuralgic Amyotrophy.

Brachial Neuritis describes a form of peripheral neuropathy affecting the shoulder, arm, hand and chest.

The Brachial Plexus has its roots in the cervical spine, where it branches off into a complex network of nerves to innervate the shoulders, chest, arms and hands as well as controlling movement and sensations. Inflammation of this sensitive bundle of nerves can cause painful symptoms often with sudden onset.

Typical Symptoms

  • Severe pain – this may be described as sharp or stabbing like pain felt in the upper arms and / or shoulder
  • Pain is only felt on one side of the body
  • The onset of symptoms is sudden and not related to any particular injury
  • Painful symptoms may last several days to weeks and are typically followed by sensations of numbness and muscle weakness in the affected shoulder and arm
  • Recovery is slow and gradual

Causes

It is still not clear what causes brachial neuritis, although it has been suggested that it may be associated with an injury or by an immune attack on the brachial nerve branch triggered by a preceding event. 

Diagnosis

Due to the aetiology and rarity of this condition, its clinical presentation can be confused with other disorders such as rotator cuff disease leading to misdiagnosis. Brachial Neuritis will not usually appear on diagnostic tests such as X-Ray or MRI scans – such tests however, are useful for ruling out other suspected conditions, such as cervical radiculopathy or rotator cuff disease. An electromyography may be useful in some cases in order to determine the extent of the nerve damage and its specific nature.

Treatment for Nerve Pain

Medication

Nerve pain can be excruciatingly painful, this is especially true during the initial phase of Brachial Neuritis. Unfortunately, common over the counter medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are not effective in the treatment of nerve pain, stronger opioid painkillers may be prescribed during the acute phase of the illness with the use on or corticosteroids in some cases.

Steroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections can help reduce inflammation - when combined with a small dose of local anaesthetic to help relieve painful symptoms, corticosteroid injections can prove in some cases, to be an effective treatment method.

chronic pain

Pain Management and Rehabilitation

Recovery from Brachial Neuritis can be slow – once the initial pain has begun to subside, a supportive rehabilitative program for the management and improvement of the symptoms will be required, in the form of rest, pain relief medication and physiotherapy.

Physiotherapy can be highly beneficial in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy, targeted exercise and particular stretches can help improve muscle strength as well as encouraging a steady return to a normal range of motion.

The pain management clinic consists of a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals including pain management consultants, physiotherapists and psychologists, it can help patients address and overcome physical and psychological limitations with the combined use of medication, psychological support, physiotherapy and rest.

Coping with any type of chronic pain can have an extremely negative effect on the overall quality of the patient’s life, both physically and psychologically – a pain management specialist in this area will be able to advise on all aspects of pain management and devise an individual treatment plan.

Nerve Pain

nerve pain

Back Pain

back pain

Treatments

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