Brachioradial pruritus is a condition characterized by intense sensation of itching in the arm primarily around the elbow and the wrist. The condition may affect one or both the arms. The itching sensation is so intense that in most cases, severe scratching the skin may lead to bleeding. The condition is more frequently observed in fair skinned individuals, in their middle ages, who indulge in outdoor sports activity like sailing, tennis, golfing, etc.
This neurogenic itch condition is actually a variant of pain and affects the skin over the brachioradialis muscle and hence it is referred to as brachioradial pruritus. The condition is considered to manifest for an average duration of 4 to 5 years, which in some cases may extend for as long as 18 years.
Brachioradial Pruritus Causes
The primary cause for the condition is attributed to exposure to the sun or wind, though some experts suggest that there is an associated involvement of the radial nerve. There are two hypotheses that attempt to explain the cause of the condition,
- The first hypothesis claims that, brachioradial pruritus is linked with injury of the peripheral nerves that supply the skin.
- The second hypothesis claims that the pruritus is linked to damage of the nerves at the cervical spine, namely C5 and C6 levels. Entrapment of the nerve is the primary cause in this situation.
These theories are only speculative and don’t explain the reason for the specific localized skin involvement. Some experts suggest that the etiology for the development of this condition is multifactorial.
Acupuncture For Brachioradial Pruritus
As per a study conducted, patients that received 20 minutes of acupuncture therapy showed significant relief from symptoms after a period of five weeks. There are two basic techniques of acupuncture- intramuscular stimulation and cutaneous field stimulation. The therapy focused on applying acupuncture needles on the following points,
- Jiaji Point at C5 and C6 were the primary points.
- Elect o-acupunture was used on lung meridian hand-taiyin, which acted as the supplementary point.
Natural Cure For Brachioradial Pruritus
Unfortunately, the etiology for the condition is not clearly understood and hence most treatment regimen is focused at alleviating the symptoms. In addition to acupuncture, there are other treatment guidelines that can be beneficial,
- Scratching can make the symptoms worse and hence application of cold or ice packs can help in alleviating the symptoms of itching. Local application of calendula ointment can also help in alleviating the symptoms of itching.
- Homeopathic drugs namely Bryonia and RhusTox can help alleviate the symptoms of pain, especially when the cervical spine is involved.
- Physical therapy may provide some relief, especially in cases associated with evidence of cervical spine damage. In some cases, neck traction is also considered useful.
- Massaging the affected area, using essential oils like clove or lavender can also provide relief. Massage can be applied either at the level of the cervical spine or at the site of itching. While using essential oils it is always recommended to dilute the concentration by mixing it with base oils.
Restricting the exposure to sunlight, especially from 10 am to 4 pm is essential to prevent an acute exacerbation. In some cases, patients with psychiatric disorder like depression and anxiety may also manifest these symptoms and treating these ailments can help relieve the symptoms in most cases.