What is it and how is it treated?
Brachial Neuritis is a rare condition that can cause a lot of pain or numbness in the shoulder and upper arm. Learn more about it from the experts at OrthoNeuro in Columbus, Ohio. Our expert orthopedists have years of experience in shoulder rehabilitation.
What Is Brachial Neuritis?
Brachial neuritis is a type of peripheral neuropathy that is localized in the chest, shoulder, arm, and hand.
Peripheral neuropathy causes pain or loss of function in the nerves that carry signals to and from the central nervous system to other parts of the body. The condition is rare. Brachial neuritis is also known as brachial neuropathy or brachial plexus neuritis.
Acute brachial neuritis is when nerve damage comes on suddenly and unexpectedly. The condition may not be related to any other injury or physical condition. It is also known as Parsonage-Turner syndrome (PTS) or neuralgic amyotrophy.
The condition affects the brachial plexus. This bundle of nerves travels from the spinal cord to the chest, shoulder, arms, and hands.
Most individuals will experience symptoms in the lower nerves of the brachial plexus which include the arm and hand. It usually affects only one side of the body. The different types of brachial plexus injuries include:
- Acute brachial neuritis. Symptoms occur unexpectedly on their own. Individuals feel a sharp, severe pain in the nerves of the brachial plexus, which is followed by weakness or numbness.
- Brachial plexus injury. The pain and loss of function due to another type of injury.
How Do You Get Brachial Neuritis?
The exact cause of brachial neuritis is not yet known, however, the condition is generally thought to be an immune system-mediated inflammatory reaction against the nerve fibers of the brachial plexus.
Sometimes the symptoms seem to be related to illness or injury. In other cases, the pain and muscle weakness associated with the disease occur without any explanation. There is also an extremely rare genetic form of brachial neuritis, called hereditary neuralgic amyotrophy.
A study by Nens van Alfen and Baziel van Engelen showed that individuals with this type of neurologic amyotrophy are affected at a younger age. These attacks are more frequent and nerves outside the brachial plexus are more likely to be affected too.
What Are The Symptoms Of Brachial Neuritis?
Symptoms of brachial neuritis include:
- Severe upper arm and shoulder pain
- One side of the body is affected
- The pain is followed by weakness or paralysis in the affected muscles of the arm or shoulder
- Loss of control in the shoulder or arm
- Limited sensation or feeling in the shoulder or arm
How Do You Treat Brachial Neuritis?
Acute brachial neuritis is known to resolve itself on its own, given enough time. Your healthcare provider may prescribe corticosteroids for the pain as needed.
As soon as the pain starts to subside, you may benefit from physical therapy to rehabilitate the arm’s strength and range of motion.
If the brachial neuritis has come about because of an injury and surgery is a viable option, then surgery might be used to repair the nerves of the brachial plexus region.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Brachial Neuritis?
You can expect symptoms to resolve slowly over a period of a few months or a few years.
Can Brachial Neuritis Be Prevented?
It is not currently known how to prevent brachial neuritis. By avoiding arm and shoulder injuries you stand your best chance of avoiding brachial neuritis.
Medically reviewed by Benjamin W. Szerlip, DO
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