Medical News Today: Causes of right shoulder and arm pain

Brachial neuritis is a type of peripheral neuropathy that affects the following parts of the body:

  • chest
  • shoulder
  • arm
  • hand

Peripheral neuropathy is a disease of the nerves which transmit signals between the central nervous system and other parts of the body. Nerve pain and a loss of function in affected body parts characterize the condition.

Usually, people with brachial neuritis experience pain and weakness in the shoulder and arm on one side of their body. Most of the time, this is their dominant side.

Most people will experience pain on the outside part of the shoulder. It generally comes on suddenly and may worsen at night.

After a few days, the pain may disappear. A person may then experience the following symptoms in their shoulder and arm:

  • weakness
  • changes in reflexes
  • loss of sensation

Infections are common causes of brachial neuritis. The infections may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic. Examples include:

  • mumps
  • parvovirus B19
  • Coxsackie B virus
  • HIV
  • variola major and minor

To make an accurate diagnosis, a doctor will take a full medical history. This will include questions about the following:

  • previous infections
  • whether the person has received vaccines for influenza and tetanus
  • recently prescribed medications, such as antivirals, antiepileptics, and botulinum toxin
  • recent surgery

An electromyography test, which records electrical activity in muscles and nerves, is essential for diagnosing brachial neuritis. A doctor may also order medical imaging tests to rule out muscle and bone disorders.

Brachial neuritis usually resolves on its own. In the meantime, doctors may prescribe pain medications, such as:

  • anti-inflammatories
  • nerve pain medications.

Once the pain subsides, some people may benefit from specific stretches and strength exercises.

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