Brachialgia (Arm Pain)

Brachialgia is the clinical term for pain produced via a trapped nerve within the neck leading to pain radiating down the arm.  Like sciatica, it may be of unexpected onset and extraordinarily severe or of gradual onset and with symptoms that are more prolonged. The reason of the trapped nerve inside the neck that produces the brachialgia is both a disc prolapse or greater longstanding degenerative modifications generating compression on a nerve root.


A massive proportion of human beings with brachialgia due to a disc prolapse will get better in time without requiring surgical procedure. The disc prolapse regularly resolves thereby relieving the nerve compression and resulting in a reduction in pain. This procedure can take some weeks, but for the majority of patients, their sciatica has considerably improved within 2 months of initial onset. As a result, the early remedy of brachialgia focuses on pain management, for which a variety of techniques are used together with medication and epidural steroid injections.

Surgery will be taken into consideration for brachialgia within the following conditions:

  • If the pain fails to subside within a few weeks of onset

  • If the pain isn't controlled with medicinal drug/steroid epidural injection

  • If there is related muscle weakness

  • If there is a threat spinal cord feature

What does the surgery for brachialgia entail:

The most common is an anterior cervical discectomy.  This involves, under general anaesthetic, a horizontal incision in the front of the neck after which the surgeon approaches the front of the cervical vertebra. With an anterior cervical discectomy, almost the entire disc is removed allowing the surgeon to pass through to the back of the vertebra where the nerve root lies. At the end of the procedure there is, therefore, a space between the two vertebrae where the disc has been removed.  A fusion device called a cage can be inserted into this space into which some bone or tricalcium phosphate bone-graft substitute is packed.

An alternative to fusion is a disc replacement. The operation is exactly as described above but the implant is mobile and can move like a disc.

After surgery:

Post-operatively, the patient can mobilise on the day of surgery and is generally home within 2 days of the surgery.  Despite being a relatively minimally invasive procedure, it remains a serious neurosurgical operation and we would recommend 6 weeks off work, although the recovery period would be the subject of discussion between you and your surgeon.