What is brachialgia?
Brachialgia is a technical term for arm pain. It is generally used when the pain is thought to be due to a problem with the nerves, most frequently a compressed or pinched nerve in the neck.
How does brachialgia occur?
The spinal canal and intervertebral foraminae are bony tunnels in the spine through which run the spinal cord and spinal nerves (nerve roots) respectively. When the size of these tunnels is reduced, there is less room for the spinal nerves and/or spinal cord, the consequence of which may be pressure on these structures.
Symptoms of neural (nerve or spinal cord) compression include pain in the neck, shoulder blade or arm. Numbness, tingling sensations, and weakness are often associated with brachialgia.
Disorders that can cause nerve root compression and brachilagia include spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, a bulging or prolapsed intervertebral disc, bony spurs (osteophytes), or spondylosis (osteoarthritis of the spine). Commonly, two or more of these conditions are seen together.
How is brachialgia treated?
There are a number of treatment options fro brachilagia, and these will depend upon your specific situation:
Brachialgia is the medical term to describe a certain type of arm pain caused by a compressed or pinched nerve in the neck.
What causes brachialgia?
The spine has two bony tunnels that contain the spinal cord and the spinal nerves and when something happens to reduce the diameter of the tunnel/s the cord or the nerves become pinched. This pinching or neural compression causes several symptoms. These may include pain in the neck, shoulder blade or arm along with weakness and a numb, tingling feeling.
Brachialgia pain can be brought on by any of these conditions:
It’s also quite common for two or more of these conditions to occur at the same time.
How is brachialgia treated?
After your doctor has diagnosed brachialgia, you’ll find there are quite a few treatments available to give pain relief and help the healing process. Depending on your individual requirements, these may include:
Brachialgia from osteoarthritis of the spine often improves after a few sessions of physiotherapy designed to free the pinched nerve. In addition, warm water swimming sessions/hydrotherapy supervised by your physiotherapist often help to resolve this condition. Massage therapy is another treatment that can free trapped nerves, reduce pain and speed up the healing process.
Pain medication is a commonly recommended medical treatment and you may be prescribed powerful painkillers, membrane stabilising drugs and anti-convulsants. In some cases, medical treatment may require Ketamine to be given through an I.V. drip in the arm.
Nerve sheath injections may be necessary to block pain and nerve spasms. This is a local anaesthetic injected into the neck around the compressed nerve. This greatly improves brachialgia and surgery can sometimes be delayed or even avoided. Unfortunately, the benefit of these injections is only temporary and wears off after several days or weeks.
Severe cases of brachialgia may need surgery and if you have the common symptoms – see a doctor for a correct, medical diagnosis.