Brachioradial pruritus. (severe itching on forearms and neck, no rash).

Posted by Patrick Cotter @patrickcotter, Mar 19, 2012

Does anyone know of this. I think its rare but does exist. My neurologist does not know about this. I have compression between my c5 and c6 cervical disk and have had alot of sun damage to my skin.

@sgmjohnny

I've suffered many years with brachioradial pruritis (BRP) that began on my forearms and extended to other areas including my trunk & legs. I tried everything from ice packs to hot baths and every anti-itch medication imaginable to ease my itch, especially at night when I would scratch myself bloody to no avail. Four different Dermatologists examined me and prescribed topical applications that were ineffective. One method for relief that I had read about, but never tried, was cervical traction of the neck. I never expected it to be beneficial but I was desperate in need of relief so I ordered a pump-up cervical traction device on Amazon for $18 and started using it twice daily for 30 minutes of cervical extension. Within 24 hours I noticed the itching had decreased and within a week all symptoms of itching ceased. I stopped using the cervical traction device afer a month of itch free sleep. The itching returned after a couple days so I had to go back to using cervical traction and once again I got total relief. That was six months ago and now I do the cervical traction daily and itching has not reoccured. I also purchased a "hang to relax" teter prior to doing neck traction and it helped relieve the itch but I'm in my 80's and had problems hanging upside down 🙂

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Love your story! Because it’s a neurogenic problem, BRP can’t be relieved by potions and creams and it’s astonishing how many dermatologists don’t know that!

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@sgmjohnny

I've suffered many years with brachioradial pruritis (BRP) that began on my forearms and extended to other areas including my trunk & legs. I tried everything from ice packs to hot baths and every anti-itch medication imaginable to ease my itch, especially at night when I would scratch myself bloody to no avail. Four different Dermatologists examined me and prescribed topical applications that were ineffective. One method for relief that I had read about, but never tried, was cervical traction of the neck. I never expected it to be beneficial but I was desperate in need of relief so I ordered a pump-up cervical traction device on Amazon for $18 and started using it twice daily for 30 minutes of cervical extension. Within 24 hours I noticed the itching had decreased and within a week all symptoms of itching ceased. I stopped using the cervical traction device afer a month of itch free sleep. The itching returned after a couple days so I had to go back to using cervical traction and once again I got total relief. That was six months ago and now I do the cervical traction daily and itching has not reoccured. I also purchased a "hang to relax" teter prior to doing neck traction and it helped relieve the itch but I'm in my 80's and had problems hanging upside down 🙂

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You got that right. It is not a skin disorder. It is a nerve thing. C5 and C6 in your neck.

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@sgmjohnny

I've suffered many years with brachioradial pruritis (BRP) that began on my forearms and extended to other areas including my trunk & legs. I tried everything from ice packs to hot baths and every anti-itch medication imaginable to ease my itch, especially at night when I would scratch myself bloody to no avail. Four different Dermatologists examined me and prescribed topical applications that were ineffective. One method for relief that I had read about, but never tried, was cervical traction of the neck. I never expected it to be beneficial but I was desperate in need of relief so I ordered a pump-up cervical traction device on Amazon for $18 and started using it twice daily for 30 minutes of cervical extension. Within 24 hours I noticed the itching had decreased and within a week all symptoms of itching ceased. I stopped using the cervical traction device afer a month of itch free sleep. The itching returned after a couple days so I had to go back to using cervical traction and once again I got total relief. That was six months ago and now I do the cervical traction daily and itching has not reoccured. I also purchased a "hang to relax" teter prior to doing neck traction and it helped relieve the itch but I'm in my 80's and had problems hanging upside down 🙂

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@donnany, it has come up in these discussions that Barachioradial pruritus sometimes relates to nerves in the cervical area, but it may not always be "a nerve thing," according to this report from Emedicine (Medscape): https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1355312-overview.

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@sgmjohnny

I've suffered many years with brachioradial pruritis (BRP) that began on my forearms and extended to other areas including my trunk & legs. I tried everything from ice packs to hot baths and every anti-itch medication imaginable to ease my itch, especially at night when I would scratch myself bloody to no avail. Four different Dermatologists examined me and prescribed topical applications that were ineffective. One method for relief that I had read about, but never tried, was cervical traction of the neck. I never expected it to be beneficial but I was desperate in need of relief so I ordered a pump-up cervical traction device on Amazon for $18 and started using it twice daily for 30 minutes of cervical extension. Within 24 hours I noticed the itching had decreased and within a week all symptoms of itching ceased. I stopped using the cervical traction device afer a month of itch free sleep. The itching returned after a couple days so I had to go back to using cervical traction and once again I got total relief. That was six months ago and now I do the cervical traction daily and itching has not reoccured. I also purchased a "hang to relax" teter prior to doing neck traction and it helped relieve the itch but I'm in my 80's and had problems hanging upside down 🙂

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Right!!! Ok, I find that lanacaine can soothe the skin, but prevent or stop it? No. After finally seeing a neurologist, getting MRI EMG etc got 3 epidurals to no avail, found Lyrica which worked! 200 mg a day keeps me somewhat sane so far!!

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@castlemac

Hello, I have this exact diagnosis – same everything, no rash, severe SEVERE itching on forearm(left only) issues with my neck, and sun damage. I want to find out all I can regarding this – I am going INSANE with the itching. Only thing so far that TEMPORARILY takes the itch away is ICE…..

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BRP -Brachioradial Pruitius- I have had if for 8 plus years. Have tried to treat the symptoms instead of get to the root of the problem of why I have this. I have seen 2 general family doctors, dermatologist, neurologist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, and a specialist (which confirmed BRP) I have taken over the counter creams & meds as well as perscribed medicine like gapapentin, doxepin, and antibiotics when the scratching on my arms become infected. I was told you could have BRP for either 2 different reasons, either a nerve compression of your spine (C5 – C7) or prolong exposure to the sun. If the itching occurs on both arms it's usually the compression not the sun exposure. Although I use to lay in the sun as a teen all day with baby oil!!!! mine is on both arms. I have decided to visit a NUCCA specialist to get to the root of the problem. My symptoms went from quarterly to monthly to now daily!! At my wits end where like others, only ice packs have helped consistently but how inconvenient!!! will keep you posted on my findings.

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@castlemac

Hello, I have this exact diagnosis – same everything, no rash, severe SEVERE itching on forearm(left only) issues with my neck, and sun damage. I want to find out all I can regarding this – I am going INSANE with the itching. Only thing so far that TEMPORARILY takes the itch away is ICE…..

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Hi nab1, I’m curious about these NUCCA specialists. Aren’t they chiropractors who specialize in the cervical spine only? Have you seen a neurologist or had an MRI?
Since I’ve had three cervical epidurals and none were effective for more than ten days, I’ve gone on Lyrica which at first was like a miracle. No itching AT ALL for about two weeks. Now two months in I’m itching again but not nearly with the intensity or frequency of pre-Lyrica. I consider it pretty much a success though I still travel with ice! And no sun without sunscreen ever ever.

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@castlemac

Hello, I have this exact diagnosis – same everything, no rash, severe SEVERE itching on forearm(left only) issues with my neck, and sun damage. I want to find out all I can regarding this – I am going INSANE with the itching. Only thing so far that TEMPORARILY takes the itch away is ICE…..

Jump to this post

I've endured Bracioradial Pruritis (BRP) for two years now and was evaluated by several physicians of various specialties; most had not heard of BRP or seen anyone with that condition. I saw two dermatologist that prescribed topical anti-itch applications that provided little or no relief. One neurologist recommended intermittent cervical traction that seems to reduce the daytime episodes of itching but the night time occurances are the most frequent and difficult to endure. I ordered a teter (hang to relax) mechanism that was difficult for this 81 year-old to tolerate; hanging by the feet in suspension, upside-down, is for much younger persons. This stretching of the cervical spine did provide temporary relief so I purchased an inflatable neck cuff that I pumped up like a B/P cuff and kept it inflated for a half-hour twice daily; this definitely provides relief and I have been using this method for about six months. The problem is, if I miss a day the itching returns and I must take my neck-cuff everywhere I go. Ice packs are okay but messy; I prefer to get in the bath tub filled with "very hot" water and scrub the itchy surfaces with "Caress soap" just before bedtime. Then, if itching returns, during the night, I apply "DMSO/Aloe Vera cream" (available on Amazon) that seems to be the only topical cream that provides relief.

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@froglegs

Benzocaine comes in topical forms (also called lidocaine). I buy Solarcaine but it can be in a generic form, too. I get the spray so touching the skin is not necessary. It also comes in a gel form, for dry skin that’s oily.

US Brand Name
Anacaine
Chiggerex
Mandelay
Medicone
Outgro
Solarcaine

Canadian Brand Name
Baby Orajel Nighttime Formula
Dermoplast Maximum Strength
Topicaine

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I've endured Bracioradial Pruritis (BRP) for two years now and was evaluated by several physicians of various specialties; most had not heard of BRP or seen anyone with that condition. I saw two dermatologist that prescribed topical anti-itch applications that provided little or no relief. One neurologist recommended intermittent cervical traction that seems to reduce the daytime episodes of itching but the night time occurances are the most frequent and difficult to endure. I ordered a teter (hang to relax) mechanism that was difficult for this 81 year-old to tolerate; hanging by the feet in suspension, upside-down, is for much younger persons. This stretching of the cervical spine did provide temporary relief so I purchased an inflatable neck cuff that I pumped up like a B/P cuff and kept it inflated for a half-hour twice daily; this definitely provides relief and I have been using this method for about six months. The problem is, if I miss a day the itching returns and I must take my neck-cuff everywhere I go. Ice packs are okay but messy; I prefer to get in the bath tub filled with "very hot" water and scrub the itchy surfaces with "Caress soap" just before bedtime. Then, if itching returns, during the night, I apply "DMSO/Aloe Vera cream" (available on Amazon) that seems to be the only topical cream that provides relief.

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@sgmjohnny

I've suffered many years with brachioradial pruritis (BRP) that began on my forearms and extended to other areas including my trunk & legs. I tried everything from ice packs to hot baths and every anti-itch medication imaginable to ease my itch, especially at night when I would scratch myself bloody to no avail. Four different Dermatologists examined me and prescribed topical applications that were ineffective. One method for relief that I had read about, but never tried, was cervical traction of the neck. I never expected it to be beneficial but I was desperate in need of relief so I ordered a pump-up cervical traction device on Amazon for $18 and started using it twice daily for 30 minutes of cervical extension. Within 24 hours I noticed the itching had decreased and within a week all symptoms of itching ceased. I stopped using the cervical traction device afer a month of itch free sleep. The itching returned after a couple days so I had to go back to using cervical traction and once again I got total relief. That was six months ago and now I do the cervical traction daily and itching has not reoccured. I also purchased a "hang to relax" teter prior to doing neck traction and it helped relieve the itch but I'm in my 80's and had problems hanging upside down 🙂

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Yes, my primary care physician was interested in hearing all my personal approaches to alleviate BRP symtoms. Cervical traction doesn't provide immediate relief from the itching but I've noticed a progressive decrease in intensity as I continue to use it twice daily for at least 30 minutes. My doctor was also impressed that the DMSO/Aloe vera cream decreased the itching. I had used DMSO previously for it's relief of joint pain; it penetrates the skin barrier and provides immediate relief from deep subcutaneous pain or itching.

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@castlemac

Hello, I have this exact diagnosis – same everything, no rash, severe SEVERE itching on forearm(left only) issues with my neck, and sun damage. I want to find out all I can regarding this – I am going INSANE with the itching. Only thing so far that TEMPORARILY takes the itch away is ICE…..

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Although I have only been affected with Brachioradial Pruritis (BRP) for less than 2 years, I can empathize with your frustration with health care providers that have no idea how to manage this condition. I also have tried a dozen approaches to control the itching, especially at night, that deprives me of sleep. I've achieved considerable relief with intermittent cervical traction (30 min twice daily) and recently started using aspercream patches applied on the back of my neck at bedtime which has helped to ease the night-time itching. I am of the impression that my condition results from compression of cervical discs aggravated by poor posture and inadequate hyperextention of my neck.

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Hi, Well it really is nice to find out that I am not imagining this. It first started in about 1994 and the Doctor had no idea for helping it apart from topical ointment. Later one prescribed Lyrica but actually I stumbled across the idea of ice myself…and even resorted to getting a bag of peas at the grocery store when one episode started. It would happen on and off for a few weeks at a time and sometimes I could go several months without one. The strange thing is that I mentioned it to my sister once and she said she had the same thing…we thought we were crazy and decided to not mention it lest it caused it to start up. Found out my brother had the same thing. Now it has come back and using cold compresses held on with Ace bandages gives relief but only for a while. I am hoping that this episode will not continue but I also have found out that I have some disk (disc?) issues and have had episodes where my neck gets numb when I sit at a desk for long. The neck complains but the "bottom" is happy to be resting. (and spreading out, unfortunately) I think it takes the "relaxed fit" label on my jeans too seriously…..anyway, these description I have read are so spot on….I find that if I have anything tight around my elbow (like a shirt sleeve) it will start up, also.

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Hi, @ruthelaine — welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Glad you've joined the community and found some benefit from reading the posts in this discussion. I can imagine it would be a great feeling to realize you are not imagining this severe itching.

Sounds like you've found some good ways to help cope on your own — that is great. Interesting about your siblings also experiencing this condition.

Are you feeling okay with your cold compresses at present, or are you looking to find other remedies? How have your brother and sister been managing this condition?

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Hi Patrick… Yes, It seems that most individuals that have Brachioradial Pruritis (BRP) have given up on finding a cure. Some report that their symptoms go away and return intermittently; others have non-stop itching without relief except for ice pack application directly to the affected area. I've found that cervical traction lessens the intensity of my itching and getting in the bathtub full of very hot water provides relief for several hours. I don't know of anyone else that has tried this approach. It was interesting to read your comments and I hope you are able to whip this awful condition.

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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I’ve had this for a long time, never knew what it was until now. Ice does work immediately but my regular doctor did blood work and found a very low B12 level. I did a series of three therapies giving myself shots of B12 (requires prescription) the stuff at the mall doesn’t work. I had almost immediate relief after the first shot. It’s been a little over a year and the itching is back, I’m definitely going to try it again. I have a spinal cord injury as well but regardless of the cause the shots worked. Also…. instead of gabapentin which is horrible I suggest lyrica. You only take this medication when you need it so you don’t have to maintain a level in your system which I find causes brain fog. Lol.

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Charlana… Thanks for your sharing your experience with BRP and revealing what has worked to ease your itching. I certainly will discuss this with my physician and ask if I am low on B-12. Iwill also check outhe Lyrica; I've tried everything I've heard about but nothing seems to cure this constant itching, mostly my left forearm. Thanks again; I appreciate your remarks… John

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