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A hand scraching at a pruritus on arm

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Are your arms itching and burning?

Is the only relief an ice pack applied to the area?

Does it get worse at night?

Do you have a history of head or neck injuries?  Car accidents?  Falls?  Other Traumas?

Recently we have published a Case Study in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research on the resolution of a condition called Brachioradial Pruritis  in a 37 year old female utilizing Upper Cervical Chiropractic for the correction of structural misalignments in the neck.  This particular patient had a fall on a staircase where she hit her head about 8 years before the symptoms began.  As a nurse she was able to diagnose herself as having Brachioradial Pruritis a somewhat rare condition that Dermatologists typically see and have little answers for.

According to Medscape

Brachioradial pruritus is a nerve related itch syndrome of the upper extremities. It is typically localized to the skin on the forearm, but involvement of the upper arms and shoulders is also common.  It may be one sided or both sided. Scratching reportedly only makes the discomfort worse, and most patients discover that application of cold packs is often the only therapy that provides symptomatic relief.

Jennifer went the Dermatologist route at first and had no results.  She just continued to suffer until the cause was identified and then she was on the path to recovery.

Dermatologists are frequently baffled by this condition and maybe for good reason, much of the research available points to the neck as a probable cause (see references below).  So if you go to a skin expert and they see itching skin then they will frequently prescribe some sort of topical cream or other medication to no avail.  But if the problem is being caused by an underlying neck condition as it was in Jennifer’s case, a skin expert is going to have a hard time properly diagnosing or treating such a condition.

If the cause is pressure on the nerves as they leave the neck and travel into the arm then covering up the sensation with Benadryl or even ice packs are at best a temporary solution.

If you have been diagnosed with Brachioradial Pruritis or if you just have the symptoms described above then a structural evaluation of your neck would be appropriate.  Now the problem is not all neck evaluations are created equal.  Without a thorough understanding of the misalignments in the neck the problem could be unchanged or made worse.

So make sure that you go to an upper cervical specialist that will take the time and the effort to understand the misalignments with precise upper cervical x-rays and a thorough evaluation.

Many excellent upper cervical specialists can be found at www.nucca.org or www.upcspine.com  or if you are in the San Diego County area than come into to our office and we will evaluate you.  You can find us at www.nuccawellness.com

Dr. William R. Davis Jr., D.C. is a Vista Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist. He is in private practice in Southern California in the city of Vista. He specializes in correcting problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems. More information can be found on his website at http://www.nuccawellness.com


Heyl T. Brachioradial pruritus. Arch Dermatol. Feb 1983;119(2):115-6.

Tait CP, Grigg E, Quirk CJ. Brachioradial pruritus and cervical spine manipulation. Australas J Dermatol. Aug 1998;39(3):168-70.

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