Brachialgia diagnostics

At the moment you go to see a specialist when suffering from brachialgia symptoms, they will perform diagnostic tests accordingly, to define the main cause of the condition. The tests should involve X-Rays and MRI scans, which will help to identify the type and extent of the damage. Only after diagnosing the primary cause can you proceed with symptom treatments. During physiotherapeutic diagnostics, the indications for the treatment can be:
  • limited mobility of limbs and back (caused by muscle cramp or pain)
  • numbness in the hand on the damaged nerve side
  • weakened reflexes in the hand
  • pain in the collarbone area
  • excessively tense and shortened neck muscles

Brachialgia treatment

In the first sharp phase of brachialgia, doctors recommend pharmacological treatment such as painkillers, anti-inflammatory pills, and muscle relaxers. In some cases, orthopaedics may recommend a neck support. If the pain is troublesome, rehabilitation can start in this phase, initially just as a physical treatment.

What is the aim of brachialgia rehabilitation?

Afflictions relating to brachialgia cause disturbances in 3 different areas: limb mobility, muscle strength, and stability. Bringing back (fully or partially – depending on the damage extent) functionality in the areas mentioned above is the main goal of rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation

After removing the pain, physiotherapists focus on the normalization of processes within the diseased area. To this purpose, they can suggest:
  • cryotherapy (cold treatment – excellent for pain relief)
  • heat therapy
  • sollux lamps or Bioptron lamps
  • laser treatment
  • elements of electrotherapy such as iontophoresis, diadynamic therapy, and current interference Kinesiotaping

Supportive kinetic therapy methods

  • McKenzie method
  • PNF method
  • Cyriax method
  • NDT Bobath method
  • Cervical curve extension – if brachialgia is caused by discopathy, and the patient does not additionally suffer from osteoporosis or spondylolisthesis, a series of 15-20 20 minute treatments can be undergone.
  • passive, supportive, and active exercises for the diseased area.
Additionally manual treatment can cause excellent results, such as neck and shoulder girdle massages, deep muscle tissue massages, muscle fascia relaxation, or post isometric relaxation of cramped muscles. After strong pain is relieved, it is very beneficial to start, as soon as possible, isometric exercises strengthening neck muscles, exercises correcting body posture, and exercises strengthening spine muscles.

How to support the rehabilitation process

Every day activities

The most important rules:
  • keep the correct body posture when walking and standing
  • follow recommendations on work ergonomics (do not overburden limbs, take breaks, and avoid lifting)
  • avoid sitting for long periods
  • avoid working for long periods in front of the computer, or driving a car
  • exclude energetic head movements

A great support for brachialgia rehabilitation can be aqua aerobics, which burdens body tissue to a minimal extent and allows training without pain and straining the diseased area. Thanks to water displacement your body weight is seemingly decreased and the pressure on rehabilitated tissue is considerably lower. Water is a protective environment which enables us to bring back active movements and, consequently, a faster return to the proper movement performances.

Prevention

If you suffer from brachialgia not as a result of serious sickness (cancer) then it is probably caused by improper posture, sometimes combined with degenerative processes caused by age. In order to avoid the reoccurrence of unpleasant afflictions, then, above all, you need to take care of the general fitness of your muscular-skeletal system, and strength of back muscles. The best way to do this is regular physical activity. Additionally you should take care of the proper body posture (head in the middle axis of the body, not leaning towards any direction), and daily life activity ergonomics so your spine and surrounding tissues can be kept in good condition. Here are a few useful guidelines: 1) During work on the computer and driving a car take care of the optimal body position (do not lean your head forward) and have regular breaks. Do not cross your legs, allow them to loosely support themselves on the floor. 2) Your work station should be adjusted to your height. Proper desk and chair height as well as distance from the keyboard, along with hand support, are a must. 3) If you talk on the phone a lot, use your headphones to eliminate the habit of holding your phone with your shoulder. 4) Breaks at work and a series of stretching exercises are your friend. 5) Take care of sleeping comfort and ergonomics. Invest in a good pillow (physiotherapists can advise) and avoid sleeping on your front, as this position unfortunately strains the already endangered cervical curve.

Final comments

For sure it is worth putting in some effort in brachialgia treatment and rehabilitation. Do not stop even after symptoms disappear, and stay under doctor supervision. Usually this condition has good prognosis and if you stick to the above-mentioned guidelines you can hope that your pain will be swiftly forgotten.