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Papers of the Week

2020 Mar

J Am Acad Orthop Surg Glob Res Rev



Disabling Pruritus in a Patient With Cervical Stenosis.


Salzmann SN, Okano I, Shue J, Hughes AP
J Am Acad Orthop Surg Glob Res Rev. 2020 Mar; 4(3).
PMID: 32440634.


Brachioradial pruritus is a rare condition characterized by chronic localized itching of the dorsolateral upper extremities. Although the exact pathophysiology is still unknown, cervical nerve compression is thought to be a cause. We present the case of a 56-year-old man with a 6-year history of disabling chronic bilateral upper extremity pruritus and pain as well as concurrent neck pain. The patient presented to our office after multiple inconclusive diagnostic evaluations (dermatology, rheumatology, neurology, and psychiatry) and unsatisfactory multimodal conservative treatment attempts. His symptoms markedly impeded his ability to get restful sleep. Imaging of the cervical spine revealed multilevel cervical spondylosis, spinal stenosis with cord compression, and multilevel foraminal stenosis. The patient underwent successful multilevel anterior cervical decompression and fusion and was instantly symptom-free. The present case highlights that patients complaining of itching of the dorsolateral forearms of seemingly unknown etiology should undergo a workup of the cervical spine. If conservative treatment fails, surgical decompression may be considered in select patients.