What are the physical exam findings of brachial neuritis (BN)?

Updated: Oct 13, 2020
  • Author: Nigel L Ashworth, MBChB, MSc, FRCPC; Chief Editor: Milton J Klein, DO, MBA  more...
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  • Due to the extreme pain involved, patients with brachial neuritis usually present acutely. Typically, the affected arm is supported by the uninvolved arm and is held in adduction and internal rotation.

  • Atrophy of the affected muscles becomes prominent after approximately 2 weeks.

  • Considerable muscle pain may be noted on palpation.

  • Passive and active attempts at shoulder and scapular movement result in a significant increase in pain. Movements of the neck are relatively pain free.

  • Muscle strength in affected muscles often is reduced severely (to 2 or less on the Medical Research Council [MRC] grading scale).

  • Reflexes may be reduced or absent, depending on which nerves are involved.

  • Sensory loss is not prominent but may be detectable (in particular, loss of axillary nerve sensation), depending on the specific nerves affected.

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