Brachial Neuritis (Parsonage-Turner Syndrome)

One minute, you feel fine. The next minute, your shoulder and upper arm – and possibly other parts of the body – are suffering from sharp pains. It is possible that brachial neuritis, also known as Parsonage-Turner Syndrome or neuralgic amyotrophy, is the culprit. While this condition is rare, it does occur.

While there is an inherited form of the syndrome, most people do not have that type. Instead, they suffer from the idiopathic form, a term meaning no known cause. A brachial neuritis (Parsonage-Turner syndrome) doctor could help relieve your pain and establish a definite diagnosis.

Symptoms of Parsonage-Turner Syndrome

The initial symptoms of brachial neuritis consist of sudden pain in the shoulders and upper arms. The onset often happens in the middle of the night. This pain is often throbbing and intense. Less frequently, pain also occurs in the neck or arm and hand on the affected side. However, pain does not usually occur on both sides of the body.

The worst pain may last for days or weeks but is often replaced by milder pain lasting months or years. Pain is generally worse at night and often interrupts sleep. Over time, the affected area becomes weaker and eventually atrophies. In a worst-case scenario, the affected area becomes paralyzed.

Brachial Neuritis Causes

Currently, the case of brachial neuritis is not known. Researchers think it usually results from an autoimmune response. This response is triggered by either environmental factors or from an illness, such as a bacterial or viral infection.

Patients often report experiencing brachial neuritis a week or so after battling some type of infection. Other possible triggers include childbirth, injuries, vaccinations, surgeries, certain health conditions, and even vigorous exercise.

Diagnosing This Condition

The symptoms of brachial neuritis provide doctors with clues as to the nature of the ailment. Since the pain occurs in the shoulder area, the doctor must rule out similar shoulder issues, such as rotator cuff tears, calcific tendonitis, or arthritis. To do this, the doctor performs an electromyography (EMG) on the patient, which consists of two parts.

In the initial part, the test shocks the nerves in a measured way, and the doctor notes the results. In the second part, minute needles are inserted into the arm muscles, which documents electrical activity in those muscles, whether they are active or resting. This can help determine the severity of the nerve damage.

Treatment Plans

During the initial, most painful stage of brachial neuritis, the patient may receive prescription pain relieving medication accompanied by transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Physical therapy is also often recommended to aid muscle strength and help with joint range of motion.

Most patients will recover with treatment within nine months. If no recovery has occurred by that time, the patient may need to undergo surgery consisting of nerve transfers, which aid in restoring muscle function to those areas affected by the condition.

Even if a patient does not require surgery, it may take up to three years before they regain all their shoulder and arm strength. Those who have the inherited form of the syndrome are at great risk for repeat episodes.

Learn More About Brachial Neuritis (Parsonage-Turner Syndrome) from a Doctor

If you or a loved one develops sharp shoulder and upper arm pain suddenly, brachial neuritis(Parsonage-Turner syndrome) is a definite possibility. Call today and arrange a consultation. A doctor can conduct tests to make a definite diagnosis and devise an individual treatment plan. You should not ignore this condition, call today to get started on the path to recovery.