In some cases, no treatment is required and recovery happens on its own.
If there is no history of injury to the area, then medication, braces or splints, and physical therapy may be recommended. Potent anti-inflammatory drugs (steroids) may be recommended for cases that are caused by inflammatory problems, such as brachial amyotrophy and brachial neuritis.
Surgery may be needed if the disorder is long-lasting, symptoms get worse, or there are severe movement problems or signs of nerve fiber loss. Surgical decompression (removal of structures that press on the nerve) may help some people.
Painkillers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen may not help control nerve pain (neuralgia). Other medications may be used to reduce stabbing pains, including anti-seizure medications such as phenytoin, carbamazepine, and gabapentin. Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, may also provide pain relief. If pain is severe, a pain specialist should be consulted in order to make sure all options for pain treatment are considered.
The likely outcome depends on the cause. Recovery takes several months and may be incomplete. Nerve pain may be quite uncomfortable and may persist for a long time.
- Deformity of the hand or arm, mild to severe, which can lead to contractures
- Partial or complete arm paralysis
- Partial or complete loss of sensation in the arm, hand, or fingers
- Recurrent or unnoticed injury to the hand or arm due to diminished sensation
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if you experience pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the shoulder, arm, or hand.
Brachial plexopathy : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Brachial plexopathy : Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests
Brachial plexopathy : Treatment
Review Date : 12/21/2009
Reviewed By : Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.