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Parsonage Turner syndrome


Other Names for this Disease

  • Acute brachial neuritis
  • Acute brachial neuritis syndrome
  • Acute brachial plexus neuritis
  • Acute brachial radiculitis syndrome
  • Acute shoulder neuritis
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Overview

What is Parsonage Turner syndrome?

What are the signs and symptoms of Parsonage Turner syndrome?

What causes Parsonage Turner syndrome?

Is Parsonage Turner syndrome inherited?

How is Parsonage Turner syndrome diagnosed?

How might Parsonage Turner syndrome be treated?

What is the long-term outlook for people with Parsonage Turner syndrome?

What is Parsonage Turner syndrome?

Parsonage Turner syndrome is characterized by the sudden onset of shoulder and upper arm pain followed by progressive (worsening over time) weakness and/or atrophy of the affected area. Although the exact cause is unknown, researchers believe that most cases are due to an autoimmune response following exposure to an illness or environmental factor. Suspected triggers include viral and bacterial infections; surgery; vaccinations; injury; childbirth; strenuous exercise; certain medical procedures; and various health conditions. Treatment is symptomatic and may include pain relievers and physical therapy.[1][2]
Last updated: 1/22/2015

What are the signs and symptoms of Parsonage Turner syndrome?

Parsonage Turner syndrome is usually characterized by the sudden onset of severe pain in the shoulder and upper arm, which is often described as sharp or throbbing. In some cases, the pain may extend to the neck, lower arm and/or hand on the affected side. Rarely, both sides of the body are involved. Affected people typically experience constant pain that may become worse with movement. Intense pain can last from a few hours to several weeks at which point the pain usually begins to subside; however, mild pain may continue for a year or longer.[1][2]

As the pain subsides, it is typically replaced by progressive (worsening over time) weakness of the affected area, ranging from mild weakness to nearly complete paralysis. Affected people may also experience muscle wasting (atrophy); absent or reduced reflexes; and/or loss of sensation. In some cases, nerves and muscles outside of the shoulder and upper arm region may be affected, as well.[1][2]
Last updated: 1/21/2015

What causes Parsonage Turner syndrome?

The exact cause of Parsonage Turner syndrome (PTS) is unknown. Researchers suspect that most cases are due to an autoimmune response following exposure to an illness or environmental factor. In many cases, no triggering event or underlying cause can be identified. Factors known to trigger PTS include:[1][2]
Some researchers believe that PTS is a multifactorial condition, which means that it is caused by both environmental and genetic factors. In this case, a person may have a genetic susceptibility to PTS due to one or more genes, but won't develop the condition unless they are exposed to certain environmental triggers (such as those listed above).[1][2]
Last updated: 1/22/2015

Is Parsonage Turner syndrome inherited?

Parsonage Turner syndrome, which is also known as idiopathic neuralgic amyotrophy, is not inherited. However, an inherited form of neuralgic amyotrophy does exist, which is passed down through families in an autosomal dominant manner.[3] For more information on hereditary neuralgic amyotrophy, please click here.
Last updated: 1/22/2015

How is Parsonage Turner syndrome diagnosed?

A diagnosis of Parsonage Turner syndrome (PTS) is often suspected based on the presence of characteristic signs and symptoms. Specialized tests may be recommended to further investigate the shoulder pain and/or muscle weakness and to rule out other conditions that can cause similar features. These tests may include nerve conduction studies (tests that determine the ability of a specific nerve to relay a message to the brain), electromyography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) and/or an X-ray.[1][2]
Last updated: 1/22/2015

How might Parsonage Turner syndrome be treated?

Treatment for Parsonage Turner syndrome (PTS) varies based on the signs and symptoms present in each person. For example, pain medications may be prescribed depending on the severity of the nerve pain. Other techniques for pain management include application of heat or cold and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (a method of pain relief in which a special device transmits low-voltage electrical impulses through electrodes on the skin to an area of the body that is in pain).[1][2]

Many affected people undergo physical therapy and/or occupational therapy to maintain muscle strength and range of motion of affected joints once the pain begins to subside. Surgeries to restore movement and function to the shoulder muscles and joint may be considered if other treatment options are not effective.[1][2]
Last updated: 1/22/2015

What is the long-term outlook for people with Parsonage Turner syndrome?

The long-term outlook (prognosis) for people with Parsonage Turner syndrome (PTS) varies. Some people may only experience a single episode of pain and fully recover the strength and functionality of their shoulder, while others have multiple episodes of PTS throughout their life. It has been reported that approximately 80% of affected people recover within 2 years of the condition onset and approximately 90% recover within 3 years. Traditionally, it was believed that most affected people would recover around 70-90% of their original strength and function level, but more recent research suggests that long-term complications are more common than previously reported. People with bilateral (affecting both sides of the body) involvement or multiple episodes of PTS are more likely to have a poor prognosis.[2][1]
Last updated: 1/22/2015

References
  1. Parsonage Turner syndrome. NORD. May 2014; http://www.rarediseases.org/rare-disease-information/rare-diseases/byID/726/viewAbstract.
  2. Nigel L Ashworth, MBChB, MSc, FRCPC. Brachial Neuritis. Medscape Reference. August 2014; http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/315811-overview.
  3. Neuralgic amyotrophy. Orphanet. January 2013; http://www.orpha.net/consor/cgi-bin/OC_Exp.php?lng=en&Expert=2901.


Other Names for this Disease
  • Acute brachial neuritis
  • Acute brachial neuritis syndrome
  • Acute brachial plexus neuritis
  • Acute brachial radiculitis syndrome
  • Acute shoulder neuritis
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.