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Brachial Neuritis After Frozen Shoulder

I have brachial plexus neuritis.  I am a 52 year old female - working full time - and struggling with this diagnosis. Two plus years ago I suffered a shoulder injury that led to frozen shoulder in my left shoulder. I had a

 manipulation and went through lots of Physical therapy.  Unfortunately, I then developed frozen shoulder in my right shoulder, and also ended up having that shoulder manipulated.  During the ensuing Physical therapy, I noticed I was developed hypersensitivity in my upper right arm.  It became progressively worse but was chalked up to frozen shoulder issues.  Finally, over the course of a few days, the pain escalated and was unbearable, and my orthopedic surgeon realized it was clearly nerve pain and referred me to a pain dr.  I was diagnosed with brachial neuritis.  I am taking neurotin, savella, and hyrdocodone, but my pain is not controlled.  I am also wearing pain patches.  I have suffered from a bad rash as well.  I would love to be connected to others and share stories of what has helped.  Thanks in advance. 

thisistough thisistough 51-55 4 Responses Aug 10, 2009

Your Response


Tough indeed. Helps to hear other stories

One Friday evening late May I felt a twinge in my neck/shoulder, , and thought this to be the onset of a trapped nerve, having had similar issues before. The next 48hrs were extremely uncomfortable and I visited a private Physio first opportunity for Chiropractor type massage. It did’t help….

Whilst away with work the following week I noticed my right hand was getting more swollen and discoloured, and now I was unable to use my arm anyway! The pain got worst and I visited my A&E as I had pain in the back of my knees and a really bad searing headache in the back of my head. After taking a temperature of 38.4 I was referred to another hospital, with bloods & x-rays taken. Hospital found nothing, so sent be home.

The pain got so bad I was unable to lie down in bed, having to sleep pretty much upright. Another A&E encounter, and a consultant suggested I had Nerve damage in my shoulder and would need an injection….. never happened. Since waiting for our NHS, I tried a Bowen therapist for a couple of sessions who believes I have thoracic outlet syndrome, and also an ostepath who believes I have a frozen shoulder possibly caused by an issue with my neck…. The treatment & exercise were quite similar....

I’m still waiting for MRI/Nerve tests to rule out/confirm a diagnosis. 

The consultant believes I have brachial neuritis aka Parsonage Turner Syndrome and has referred me for a MRI and nerve tests to confirm.

At present, my symptoms are:-
Top front of shoulder:-
Feels like been shot, or stabbed.
If elbow rested flat, get pain in that place.
Constant dull ache in whole arm which throbs.
Right hand not as much power as left, maybe 80%. Doesn't feel quite mine, probably due to swelling.
Of a night, no comfortable position. Hurts at rest. More vertical I am, the less pain - but still pain.
Have noticed elbow joint/end pain coupled with heat. Hurts more if elbow resting on something.
Hand is constantly discoloured/ swollen as if being strangled.
Crease of the inner elbow – aches most of the time.
If I don't take pain relief, arm feels like sunburnt quite often, like a burning ache.

6 weeks in .... not fun

I've had brachial neuritis twice. Both times, the onset was five days after I had a flu vaccine. The first time was worse, Oh, the pain was awful, but the worst of it subsided fairly quickly (month?). I had only NSAID's, as I couldn't get a doctor's appointment. Should have gone to the ER, but I didn't really have my wits about me in that pain. About a week into the pain, as I stepped out of my shower, I caught a glimpse of my back and saw that my shoulder blade was hanging out. I couldn't even feel it! That was weird. I really did a double-take, saying to myself. "I don't think that's the way I usually look!" <br />
My primary care doc pooh-poohed my story, and said I must have had physical trauma to the area. Then a neurologist said it was a clear case of BN, and that if I was lucky it would heal fully in about a year and a half. But I didn't need pain meds by then (3 months), so he basically said he could do nothing for me. But it was very good to have the diagnosis.<br />
The whole upper right side of my body sagged so that shoulder was about 3 inches lower than the other one, even though I felt I was standing up straight. I had to carry my arm in a sling, because it felt as though it was going to fall out of the shoulder joint. And, I had to use a cane because those little muscles that balance you without you even thinking about it were not working. Also, the first few months I had serious fatigue. For a long time, I had phantom pains at what I think were the end of the affected nerves. <br />
My case was clearly an autoimmune reaction to the flu vaccine. I am glad to see that I can find more references to this as a cause. <br />
I don't believe that trying to work the affected muscles is helpful. First, the nerves need to heal. I did whatever I could to promote nerve healing. I got in the therapeutic warm pool at the YMCA and did very gentle exercises with arthritis sufferers all around me. The best one was trying to push a large ball under water, but it just felt good to be in the warm water. <br />
Other than that, it takes time, time, time. You will get better, especially if your cause was an autoimmune response to something. <br />
My best to you. It was not a fun time.

I certainly wish you the best. I would advise you to do research on how much ss payments you are eligible for, also if you served in the military check out va,, or any other organization which might help.. MY story.. at least the high lites.. my first attack happened when i was 22.. i am now 61 ,, i have had 6 episodes ,, you may also get many other things wrong dental problems, heart disease, which is progressive, and your diaphram may become paralyzed on one side and perhaps the other although the latter would not be good. the muscle wasting does not stop, no pain medication will work ,i have tried them all, the most releief is from a very hot bath,, i take mine with a few cocktails , that is the only way i get relief,, I DO NOT mean to sound negative just sharing my expierence,,, also drs will most likely tell you you need cervical spine operation in the c-5 -6 area,, i had that done twice with no positive results,, feel free to contact me

I was diagnosed with bracial neuritis on both shoulders (worse on left) last June. Like a bolt of lightening it just came on me, I don't recall doing anything that brought it on, I wasn't sick or anything. When it happened I attended my GP then the local hospital to be told I had muscle damage to my shoulder and I would be ok in a couple of weeks. The pain was horrendous and lasted for about 2-3 weeks constant. Eventually I attended a physio and she suggested I went for an MRI which showed up all clear she then suggested I should see a neurologist who confirmed it was bracial neuritis and sent me for an EMG. He didn't give me any treatment but said it would take anything up to 12 months to come right 5 months on I don't have much improvement, I have little or no strength from my shoulder to my elbow, can't reach and get darts of pain. I am on no medication. To make matters worse I have developed frozen shoulder and am receiving physio for this now which is hindered by the neuritis.