Parsonage-Turner Syndrome Initially Suspected of Being Orthopedic Diseases in a Primary Care Setting: A Case Report

Hiroki Yabe, Machiko Kimura, Akira Ishii, Tamami Watanabe, Yoshio Sakiyama, Mieko Otsuka, Hitoshi Sugawara


Parsonage-Turner syndrome (PTS), also known as neuralgic amyotrophy or brachial neuritis, consists of a complex set of symptoms including sudden onset shoulder pain, usually unilaterally, followed by progressive neurologic deficits such as motor weakness, dysesthesia and numbness. We report a case of a 45-year-old Japanese man with PTS, who was initially suspected of having orthopedic diseases, such as cervical spondylosis and suprascapular nerve entrapment syndrome. The patient presented with acute-onset severe pain in his right arm and neck, followed by muscle weakness. We diagnosed PTS by taking a detailed medical history, ruling out other differential diagnoses, and by considering the characteristic clinical symptoms and the denervation pattern identified by needle electromyography. High-dose corticosteroid therapy prednisolone (PSL) relieved the initial sharp pain and oral amitriptyline successfully relieved the residual nighttime pain. Doses of PSL and amitriptyline were tapered, pain was alleviated, and the patient returned to full-time work after discharge in one-and-a-half years. For prompt diagnosis, physicians should consider the possibility of PTS in patients with acute onset of severe arm pain or subsequent muscle weakness and muscle atrophy in the arm or shoulder girdle.

J Med Cases. 2014;5(4):197-201


Parsonage-Turner syndrome; Neuralgic amyotrophy; Brachial neuritis; Shoulder pain; Corticosteroid; Amitriptyline

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