Cervicobrachial neuralgia “or arm sciatica” is a common syndrome associated with inflammation of the brachial plexus, a network of nerves and vessels located at the base of the neck up the arm, passing through the back of the armpit. An injury to this plexus can cause a specific functional handicap.
The term neuralgia refers to a variety of pains related to the irritation of one or more nerves. These pains are manifested by a burning sensation, tingling, tickling or spasm… They can also feel like a knife blow or an electric shock.
The most common symptoms of cervicobrachialgia are severe and intense pain, as well as permanent pain starting from the shoulder towards the arm and worsening during the night. Also described as a symptom is a feeling of heaviness and/or muscle weakness of the arm, radiating pain at the level of the shoulder blades, tingling, and/or loss of sensation at the level of the fingers. In some cases, headaches and dizziness may accompany these symptoms.
In general, cervicobrachialgia is unilateral (affecting only one arm), which differentiates it from cervical myelopathy, which is bilateral.
The main origin in more than 80% of cases of cervicobrachial neuralgia is cervical dysfunction. Indeed, the blockage of a vertebra accelerates the degeneration of the vertebral joints. This degenerative process can cause problems at the level of the posterior vertebral facets (spondyloathrosis) and/or in the intervertebral disc (disc disease, disc herniation, disc osteoarthritis). The resulting bone expansion (osteophytes or as they are more commonly called; “parrot beaks”) is the cause of the compression of the nerve root.
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It is possible to stop this degenerative process by restoring spinal mobility through a chiropractic adjustment.
The chiropractor establishes the diagnosis based on the patient’s medical history, description of symptoms, and physical examination. In case of doubt or to assess the extent of the injury, a medical imaging confirmation (MRI or CT scan) may be requested.
At the end of the diagnosis, the chiropractor will propose an adapted treatment plan based on spinal adjustments. This plan will vary according to the patient’s evolution, the type of pain (acute or chronic) as well as the other symptoms described above.