What is Brachial Neuritis?
Brachial Neuritis, also known as Brachial Neuropathy, is a form of peripheral neuropathy that affects an individual’s chest, shoulders, arms, and hands. It is characterized by pain or loss of function in the nerves that send signals to and from the brain and along the spinal cord to the upper extremity and chest through a network of nerves called the brachial plexus. Cases of Brachial Neuritis are rare but serious. The disorder primarily affects the lower nerves of the brachial plexus, or the arms and hands, typically just on one side of the body: however, it can sometimes affect both sides or the other nerves in the plexus and other parts of the body. Acute Brachial Neuritis, which is when brachial neuritis develops unexpectedly on its own and is characterized by severe sharp pain along the nerves of the brachial plexus. This can then lead to weakness or numbness. Acute brachial neuritis typically occurs without any relation to any other injury or physical condition and is also called Parsonage-Turner syndrome or Neuralgic Amyotrophy. Additionally, brachial neuritis can be inherited — or passed on from a parent to child — or develop idiopathically. While the inherited form is considerably rarer, the idiopathic form has no clear cause, although it may be as a result of the body’s immune system fighting against its own nerve fibers in the brachial plexus.
What causes Brachial Neuritis?
While the effects of brachial neuritis are well known, it is unclear as to the specific cause. In some cases, brachial neuritis can develop as a result of another illness or injury, but other cases simply indicate that the pain and weakness caused by the condition develop without any explanation. Males between the ages 20 and 60 are the most likely to be affected by brachial neuritis. Many patients who have experienced a rapid onset of brachial neuritis typically have also just recovered from a virus or other infection, or have received vaccines, lumbar punctures, recent surgery, and other tests and treatments.
What are the symptoms of Brachial Neuritis?
Symptoms of brachial neuritis can vary greatly from individual to individual as a result of the severity and location of the injury. However, typically only one side of the body is impacted. An individual may experience an electric shock or have a burning sensation develop and run down the arm. In the case of a serious injury, more severe symptoms can develop. Symptoms may include weakness or inability to use muscles in the hand, arm, or shoulder, as well as a complete lack of movement and feeling in the impacted arm, hand, or shoulder. This will also be coupled with severe pain. As brachial neuritis can cause serious and permanent weakness or even disability, it is important to see a doctor immediately if you are experiencing weakness in the hand or arm, neck pain, and especially if you are experiencing symptoms of the disorder in both arms.
How is Brachial Neuritis diagnosed?
To diagnose brachial neuritis, a doctor will first confirm your symptoms, then perform tests for overall muscle strength, reflexes, and feeling in your affected arm. If the doctor believes that you may have brachial neuritis, they will probably order a test called an electromyography (EMG), which consists of two parts. During the first, the nerves are shocked in a controlled manner and the nerve response is measured. During the second part, small needles are placed at various points in the muscle of the arms, which helps to identify the amount of electrical activity in the muscles while they are at rest and during movement. The result of an EMG is that the location, nature, and severity of the nerve damage caused by brachial neuritis is identified. In all, the EMG test may last 1-2 hours, and will likely be uncomfortable as the needles are placed. It is also likely that your arm will be sore, and may tingle for a few hours after the test is completed.
How is Brachial Neuritis treated?
The first step in treating brachial neuritis is to develop a pain management plan, as the brachial neuritis can cause considerable pain on the onset. In addition to one or more medications to treat the pain the doctor may prescribe steroids early in the course of symptoms. Once the pain of the injury is being treated, the doctor will likely recommend focusing on helping your arm and shoulder return to normal functionality by prescribing a rehabilitative program that includes passive and active exercises for many months. Recovery from brachial neuritis is a slow process taking months to years.
Brachial Neuritis compensation
Although the cause is not known, Brachial Neuritis can develop specifically as a result of adverse reactions to the tetanus shot, as well as vaccines including diphtheria, pertussis, influenza, and hepatitis B. As such, brachial neuritis as a result of a vaccine injury is specifically covered under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. If you have developed brachial neuritis within a few days or weeks following a vaccination, it is critical to document your illness, seek medical attention as soon as possible and speak to a vaccine injury attorney to begin the process of filing a claim. If you or your child have suffered significantly or will be permanently affected contact one of our talented vaccine injury attorneys today to begin the process of filing a claim.
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