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Brachial neuritis is a form of peripheral neuropathy that affects the chest, shoulder, arm and hand. Peripheral neuropathy is a disease characterized by pain or loss of function in the nerves that carry signals to and from the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) to other parts of the body. It is a fairly rare condition.
Brachial neuritis is also referred to as brachial neuropathy or a brachial plexus injury. When acute brachial neuritis occurs, the damage to the brachial nerves comes on suddenly and unexpectedly, without being related to any other injury or physical condition. This is also called Parsonage-Turner syndrome or neuralgic amyotrophy.
Brachial neuritis affects mainly the lower nerves of the brachial plexus, in the arm and hand. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that travels from the spinal cord to the chest, shoulder, arms, and hands. It usually affects just one side of the body, but it can involve other nerves and other parts of the body, as well. Here is a brief overview of the different types of brachial plexus injuries:
In brachial neuritis, pain, loss of function, and other damage occurs in the brachial plexus, the bundle of nerves that travels from the spinal cord to the chest, shoulder, arms, and hands.
The cause of brachial neuritis is unknown. In some instances, the symptoms of brachial neuritis seem to be related to another illness or injury. At other times, however, the pain and weakness associated with the disease occur without any explanation.
Symptoms of brachial neuritis include:
Symptoms typically resolve slowly over the course of a few months or a few years
If any of the symptoms are noted, the location of the symptoms in the chest, shoulder, upper back, or upper arm area is an indication that brachial neuritis is the cause.
If the health care provider suspects that brachial neuritis might be the cause of your pain, he or she may also perform electromyography or nerve conduction studies to determine the specific nature and extent of the nerve damage. If the health care provider suspects that your brachial pain might be related to another type of medical condition or illness, he or she may do more tests.
In some cases, acute brachial neuritis will resolve on its own over time. Your health care provider may give you corticosteroids for the pain in the meantime. If the brachial neuritis is the result of an injury and surgery can be performed in a timely fashion, then surgery might be used to repair the nerves of the brachial plexus region.
Experts don’t know how to prevent brachial neuritis. The best thing you can do is avoid arm and shoulder injuries. But in a lot of cases, the cause of brachial neuritis is unknown, and there is little you can do to prevent it.
In many cases, brachial neuritis will resolve on its own after a few months. The best thing you can do is be patient, and follow the instructions of your health care provider to manage the severe pain of brachial neuritis.
Avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercises can help many with various types of peripheral neuropathy, and brachial neuritis is no exception. In many cases, working with a physical therapist can help improve the condition.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga may also help ease emotional and physical symptoms by helping you relieve stress naturally.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
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