Depending on the severity of the individual’s symptoms, treatment for brachial neuritis will include both an initial focus on controlling the pain, and a longer-term focus on nerve healing and rehabilitation.
Treatment for Acute Brachial Pain
In the initial phase, the inflamed brachial nerves can be severely painful. The initial course of treatment is typically focused on reducing the patient’s pain:
- Oral steroids to reduce the inflammation (which is usually a component of the pain)
- Rest or reduced activity
- Narcotic medications for several days if they are needed to help control severe pain
- Neurotropic medications (such as Lyrica or Neurontin) should be started early in the course of the symptoms, as these medications can help stabilize nerve membranes and control pain.
Treatment for Longer Term Brachial Nerve Healing
Once the severe pain has subsided, the patient will need time and patience for healing, and may need physical therapy for maximum recovery.
The most important factor for the patient’s recovery is time. The damage to the brachial plexus is done early, and takes time to resolve. Surgery is never an option as the nerve damage is most likely due to an infectious etiology (cause) and not a compressive lesion (such as a pinched nerve in the neck).
The patient may need physical therapy and rehabilitation to recover maximum use of the arm. The physical therapy may focus on restoring range of motion in the arm, arm and shoulder strength, and rebuilding normal function.
- Read more in the Physical Therapy Health Center
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It is important to note that the symptoms of arm pain and numbness from brachial neuritis can be similar to other conditions, such as symptoms of a cervical disc herniation. Therefore, a critical factor in successful treatment for this condition is first obtaining an accurate diagnosis.
A serious potential risk in this situation is to confuse the symptoms of brachial neuritis with a cervical herniated disc or other type of nerve compression and have an unnecessary surgery, rather than the appropriate course of rest, medications and physical therapy.