About idiopathic brachial plexus neuropathy

What is idiopathic brachial plexus neuropathy?

Parsonage-Turner syndrome is a relatively common condition characterized by inflammation of the network of nerves that control and supply (innervate) the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and arms (brachial plexus). Individuals with the condition first experience a sudden onset of severe pain across the shoulder and upper arm. The muscles of the affected shoulder show weakness, wasting (atrophy), and paralysis (atrophic paralysis) within a few hours or days of the onset of the disorder. Although individuals with the condition may experience paralysis of the affected areas that lasts for months or years in some cases, recovery is usually complete. The exact cause of Parsonage-Turner syndrome is not known.

What are the symptoms for idiopathic brachial plexus neuropathy?

Brachial neuritis generally begins with pain, which leads to a period of muscle weakness. How long and how severe each of these phases is can vary from person to person. The symptoms of brachial neuritis include:

  • sudden, intense shoulder Pain that’s often described as stabbing or burning, usually in the right shoulder, but sometimes in both
  • Pain that becomes worse if you move your shoulder
  • Pain that’s only relieved by the strongest painkillers and remains constant for a number of hours or even weeks
  • Weakness or Paralysis in the shoulder muscles as the Pain goes away
  • muscle atrophy, which is a decrease in muscle mass
  • areas of Numbness that occasionally develop in your arm or shoulder
  • shortness of breath, which occurs if the nerve to your diaphragm is affected

What are the causes for idiopathic brachial plexus neuropathy?

The cause of brachial neuritis is unknown.

What are the treatments for idiopathic brachial plexus neuropathy?

Brachial neuritis can often be treated with a combination of medication and physical therapy. However, in rare cases, your doctor may say you need surgery.

Medication and exercise

Initially, you will be treated with painkillers. Once your pain is controlled, your doctors will focus on helping your arm and shoulder regain normal function. To strengthen your muscles, you may need to follow a rehabilitative program of passive and active exercises for up to eight weeks. A physical therapist will supervise your exercises.


If your symptoms don’t improve, your doctor may recommend surgery. They might suggest this if you still haven’t recovered after a period of about two years. During surgery, damaged nerves can be repaired using grafts taken from healthy nerves. The procedure should restore your muscle function. Tendon transfers can also be used to restore function.

What are the risk factors for idiopathic brachial plexus neuropathy?

You’re more likely to get brachial neuritis if you’re male. Although the condition can occur at any age, those over age 20 and below age 60 are the most frequently affected.

Is there a cure/medications for idiopathic brachial plexus neuropathy?

In most cases, you can expect the pain of brachial neuritis to lessen after several days or weeks. The muscle weakness should resolve within a few months. As a general rule, the longer the painful period lasts, the longer your overall recovery will take. Some people find that their muscle weakness lasts for a number of years, and a few are left with a permanent, although slight, loss of strength.

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