Brachial neuritis is a neck pain condition. It is characterized with shoulder pain and neck pain extending to arms. There can also be numbness and some may end up with paralysis. In Ayurveda, the symptoms of Vishwachi, a Vata imbalance disorder can be compared with the symptoms of Brachial neuralgia. It is also called as Brachial neuritis.
Severe pain more localised in shoulder and neck but extending towards the tip of the finger or till the elbow joint is the characteristic feature of this disease.
The word Vishvachi has been derived from the root word ‘vishwa’ which means ‘dhatu (tissues)’ and Anch refers to paralysis of the arm and the back.
The texts define Visvachi as a disease which is caused due to vitiated Vata on affliction towards the Kandara (muscles, tendons and ligaments) that run to the tip of the fingers from behind the root of upper arm, causing restriction of the movements and depriving them of their ability of flexion or extension causing severe pain.
Brachial refers to brachial plexus – the group of nerves that originate from the back of the neck, which runs through the arms. All the motor actions of the arms and hands are controlled by this plexus of nerve.
Neuritis means inflammation (swelling, irritation) of nerve. So, Brachial neuralgia / neuritis is irritation of the brachial plexus of nerves.
Causes for Brachial neuralgia:
As per modern science, the exact cause has not been established. A recent infection, parasite, vaccination, injury, surgery, strain etc can cause it.
As per Ayurveda, specific causes are not mentioned. However, all the Vata aggravating causes are linked to it But all Vata aggravating factors especially the aggravating aspects of Prana, Udana and Vyana can be considered as the causes for this disease.
Excessive consumption of of Adhaki (pigeon pea), Bisa (Nelumbo neucifera), Chanaka (bengal gram), Nishpava (flat bean), dry vegetables.
Intake of dry, light and cold food
Food intake in improper time
Whirling, throwing or pulling the heavy objects
Heavy exercise causing strain to the arm
Excessive swimming, carrying excessive weight,
Features of Vishvachi (Brachial neuralgia):
Loss of movement of the extremities
Tiredness of the arm and forearm
Restrictions of the functions of arm and forearm
Pain starting from the neck and radiating to the shoulder, dorsal aspect of the arm, forearm and palm
Stiffness, pulsation and pain in the area of the arm
Heaviness and occasional numbness of the arm etc
Stabbing and burning type of shoulder pain, which can extend to arm and hands.
In a few cases, weakness in the arm may persist. In very rare circumstances, it may lead to paralysis.
Line of treatment
Snehana (Oleation) -both internal and external
Swedana – sweating treatment (Avagaha-tub bath), Patrapinda sweda (sudation by medicated paste,) Upanaha (poultice) etc
Mridu virechana – mild purgation to cause normal movement of Vata in its proper direction (Vata Anulomana)
Basti-Medicated decoction enema (Erandamooladi niruha or Dashamooladi niruha or any other suitable kind)
Anuvasana basi-Medicated oil enema by Bala taila, Ksheerabal taila etc
Nasya – nasal drops by Parinata keri narikela taila, Bala taila, Prasarinyadi taila etc
Rakta mokshana – Blood letting treatment
Vatashamana chikitsa – Oral medication to pacify Vata.
Stiff Neck – Causes and remedies
Herbs useful in brachial neuralgia:
Rasna (Alpinia galanga)
Sahachara (Berleria prionitis)
Devadaru (Cedrus deodara)
Bala (Sida cardifolia)
Castor root, oil
Vishatinduka (Strychnos nuxvomica)
Tagara (Valeria wallichi)
Shyonaka (Oroxylum indicum) etc Vata balancing herbs.
Ayurvedic medicines for brachial neuritis:
Maharaja prasarinyadi taila
Ksheerabala taila etc
Wholesome diet and habits
Wholesome diet and habits for Brachial neuralgia:
Shasthika shali (Red rice)
Goksheera (Cow’s milk)
Siddha ksheera (Milk processed with anti vatic drugs like garlic, ginger, pepper etc)
Sukha swapna (Proper sleep)
Tailabhyanga (Oil massage)
Unwholesome diet and habits
Unwholesome diet and habits in Vishwachi (Brachial neuralgia):
Avoid causative factors
Avoid excessive straining and exercise while there is pain.
Brachial neuralgia or radiating pain in the shoulder, back, arm or fore arm is the common health complaint among the workers who lift the heavy objects etc.
Regular oil massage, regular exercises to maintain strong shoulder and neck muscles help in preventing this disease.
Article by Dr MS Krishnamurthy and Dr Hebbar