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Cervicobrachial Neuralgia : Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Friday, August 17th 2012. | Disease, Nerve Disease

Cervicobrachial Neuralgia Definition

Cervicobrachial neuralgia is pain that originates in the neck.

Cervicobrachial neuralgia is a nerve root, pain in the path of an upper limb nerve directly caused by cervical spine pathology. It is often associated with pain in the neck that radiates to one upper limb along a nerve pathway that starts from the neck and goes to the arm: arm pain is usually dominant.

Equivalent to the lower limb sciatica, neuralgia cervicobrachial is sometimes referred to as “sciatica of the arm.” Cervicobrachial neuralgia is secondary to cervical spine pathology.

Whats is happening?

Spinal cord, which are derived neural structures for the different organs, is located in the spine. Between each vertebra, right and left, are born for the nerve roots innervate the extremities. Any anomalies or spinal injury can affect these nerves and cause pain phenomena. This is what happens in the cervicobrachial neuralgia. It affects about 15% of the population.

Cervicobrachial Neuralgia

Cervicobrachial Neuralgia (img thanks to aafp.org)

Cervicobrachial Neuralgia Causes

The causes vary freely in age

In patients under 40, cervicobrachial neuralgia is often caused by a herniated a disc in the cervical spine (elastic and fibrous structure located between the vertebrae).

This hernia may be due either to a very physical job, either in sports, either, but more rarely, to violent trauma. The disc is then in contact with the nerve root, thus causing pain. Cervical signs are clear and significant pain with irradiation often precise and quick installation in the arm.

Beyond age 40, osteoarthritis is more common. The foramen, canal through which pass the nerves from the spinal cord is altered by osteoarthritis and decreases its size. The pain then is due to mechanical and inflammatory phenomena.

The inflammation causes swelling, which further accentuates the pain. Cervicobrachial neuralgia moved sometimes brutally, often rapid, with isolated neck pain initially and irradiation in the arm.

Cervicobrachial Neuralgia Symptoms

The precise study of pain is heavily involved in diganostic

The examination will help to clarify the topography of symptoms, time of pain, the probable origin and evolution over time.

Typically, pain begins in the posterior neck and radiates a part of the arm, depending on the nerve root damage. The pain may be throbbing, burning pain. It can be increased during exercise, during coughing. It can be insomniante.

On physical examination, the doctor may cause pain on palpation of the cervical spine. Contracture of the neck muscles can give a stiff neck associated. There may be a decreased sensitivity or the driving force of the upper limb which may be partially due to pain. The topography is painful may vary depending on the root that is affected.

Depending on the topography of the lesion:

  • If the C5 root is reached, the pain will be at the anterolateral aspect of the shoulder and arm with, potentially, motor weakness of the deltoid and rotator muscles of the shoulder.
  • If the C6 root is concerned, the pain is located on the anterolateral aspect of the forearm, thumb and index finger resulting in a deficit of finger flexors and thumb and index finger.
  • Achieving the C7 root causes pain of the posterior arm, forearm, back of the hand and a deficit of finger extension.

The pain of the axilla, the internal face of the arm, forearm, hand, little finger and ring finger, associated or not with a gap spacing and the approximation of the fingers, Sign achievement of roots C8 or D1.

Cervicobrachial Neuralgia Diagnosis

Radiological examinations are necessary to diagnose

The radiographs of the cervical spine may show osteoarthritis, pinching discs or osteophytes called de parrot beaks. If symptoms persist despite a well conducted medical treatment, a CT scan (or MRI) is warranted. If at the outset, motor weakness is present, MRI is essential to clarify the seat and guide therapeutic management.

Cervicobrachial Neuralgia Treatment

The treatment of cervicobrachial neuralgia is primarily medical and physical.

Treatment varies depending on the changing nature, acute or chronic pain intensity and signs of accompaniments. A cervical collar will allow foam to the muscles of the cervical spine at rest. Analgesics are associated with anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants for about 10 days.

All molecules can be proposed, based on their effectiveness, their tolerance and their cons-indications (particularly for digestive anti-inflammatory). Sometimes, morphine derivatives or corticosteroids are useful. Physical therapy can be an asset if done with caution. In case of failure of medical treatment, surgery may be appropriate. It is useful to start with motor impairments.

Cervicobrachial Neuralgia Consultation

To facilitate your next visit with your doctor, do not forget anything and optimize your maintenance information here as useful information to your doctor.

What documents to bring?

  • Your vital card and your insurance card
  • Documents and any orders from another health professional consulted since your last appointment

 What has happened since the last visit?

  • An outbreak painful, an accentuation of pain: is that this has had implications for your treatment?
  • The pain they have embarrassed your daily life, your sleep?
  • New symptoms?
  • Your quality of life: how are you?

Have you followed the health tips?

  • Gestures of everyday life: yes, no and if not why?
  • Physical activity involving the upper limb: yes, no and if not why?

Have you been watching?

  • Your Salary? took time and hour compliance and doses? This information is critical to your doctor

 A few tips:

  • Make a payment
  • Be on time for your appointment

Cervicobrachial Neuralgia Specialty Concern


From the definition of the European Union of Medical Specialists, Rheumatology is the medical specialty that supports pain and dysfunction of the musculoskeletal and connective tissue associated with it, as well as conditions affecting the periarticular region :

  • Inflammatory diseases;
  • Diseases of the locomotor system;
  • Diseases of connective tissue and vessels;
  • Degenerative joint and spine;
  • Metabolic diseases affecting the musculoskeletal system;
  • Periarticular tissue diseases;
  • Diseases of other organs and apparatus, including the nervous system, in so far as they are connected to the diseases mentioned above.



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