Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, also known as brachial neuritis or neuralgic amyotrophy, is a peripheral nerve disorder that causes severe pain â€” usually involving the shoulder and arm. This pain is followed in days to weeks by weakness. The most common muscles involved are the shoulder and biceps muscles, but any nerve in the arm or even the leg can be involved. In rare instances, this weakness can progress to complete paralysis of the involved muscles.
The Parsonage-Turner Syndrome may develop after a viral illness, mild trauma, physical exertion or even surgery, but often the cause is not obvious. The most common theory as to its cause is that of a viral-induced, immune-mediated process.
The vast majority of patients with Parsonage-Turner Syndrome recover without any treatment â€” that is, eventually, the strength returns and pain resolves. These patients are managed with physical therapy and pain control and followed with serial electrodiagnostic evaluations. Patients are generally given six to nine months before surgery is considered. In a patient who is experiencing some recovery, this may consist of releasing entrapment sites that are impeding recovery. In those demonstrating minimal or no evidence of recovery, the surgical treatment consists of nerve transfers to restore function to muscle groups that have been paralyzed by the syndrome.