Brachial Neuritis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Brachial neuritis

Brachial neuritis, or Parsonage-Turner syndrome, is a condition characterized by nerve damage affecting the chest, shoulder, arm, and hand. This condition manifests through symptoms such as sudden-onset severe shoulder pain, arm pain, weakness, and numbness. Understanding the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of brachial neuritis is crucial for managing this rare but impactful condition.

Symptoms of Brachial Neuritis

  • Sudden, intense shoulder pain described as stabbing or burning.
  • Pain typically starts in the shoulder or upper arm and may radiate down the arm.
  • Weakness and numbness in the affected arm, lasting beyond the initial pain phase.
  • Pain and weakness usually affect only one side of the body.

Diagnosis and Differentiation

Diagnosing brachial neuritis involves a thorough patient history and physical examination. While X-rays and MRI scans may not detect the condition, an electromyography (EMG) study can help differentiate brachial neuritis from other similar conditions like cervical radiculopathy. The intense but short-lived nature of the pain, lasting less than 7 to 10 days, is a key diagnostic feature.

Treatment Approaches

Treatment for brachial neuritis focuses on pain management, nerve healing, and rehabilitation. Pain control methods may include oral steroids, narcotic medications, and neurotropic medications like Lyrica or Neurontin to stabilize nerve membranes and alleviate pain. Rest and reduced physical activity are recommended to ease inflammation and pain. In severe cases, physical therapy and rehabilitation may be necessary to restore arm motion and function.


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