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Parsonage Turner Syndrome

Abstract

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NORD is very grateful to Nigel L. Ashworth, MD, Division Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Alberta, Canada, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Parsonage Turner Syndrome

  • Acute Brachial Neuritis
  • Brachial Neuritis
  • Brachial Plexus Neuritis
  • Brachial Plexus Neuropathy
  • Idiopathic Brachial Plexus Neuropathy
  • Neuralgic Amyotrophy
  • PTS

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Summary
Parsonage-Turner syndrome (PTS) is an uncommon neurological disorder characterized by rapid onset of severe pain in the shoulder and arm. This acute phase may last for a few hours to a few weeks and is followed by wasting and weakness of the muscles (amyotrophy) in the affected areas. PTS involves the brachial plexus, the networks of nerves that extend from the spine through the neck, into each armpit and down the arms. These nerves control movements and sensations in the shoulders, arms, elbows, hands, and wrists. The exact cause of PTS is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by an abnormality of the immune system (immune-mediated disorder). The severity of the disorder can vary widely from one individual to another due, in part, to the specific nerves involved. Affected individuals may recover without treatment, meaning that strength returns to the affected muscles and pain goes away. However, individuals may experience recurrent episodes. Some affected individuals may experience residual pain and potentially significant disability.

Introduction
The initial descriptions of this disorder in the medical literature date back to the late 1800s. In 1948, Drs. Parsonage and Turner were the first physicians to describe a large series of patients. They termed the disorder ‘amyotrophic neuralgia’. There is an extremely rare, inherited form known as hereditary neuralgic amyotrophy, on which NORD has a separate report. Sometimes PTS is referred to as idiopathic neuralgic amyotrophy to distinguish it from the genetic form and to denote that the cause is unknown. However, usually PTS is simply referred to as neuralgic amyotrophy. PTS can be broadly classified as a form of peripheral neuropathy or disorder of the peripheral nervous system, which encompasses any disorder that primarily affects the nerves outside the central nervous system (i.e. brain and spinal cord).

Parsonage Turner Syndrome Resources

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