Concurrent notalgia paresthetica and brachioradial pruritus associated with cervical degenerative disc disease

Nili N Alai, Harry B Skinner
Cutis; Cutaneous Medicine for the Practitioner 2018, 102 (3): 185;186;189;190
Notalgia paresthetica (NP) is a common, often refractory sensory neuropathic syndrome with the hallmark symptoms of localized pruritus and dysesthesia of the unilateral infrascapular region. Brachioradial pruritus (BRP) is similarly classified as a localized pruritus syndrome but of the upper extremities, typically one or both forearms. Notalgia paresthetica and BRP are both generally chronic, nonlethal, incurable conditions with intermittent remissions and exacerbation. Often described as dermatologic syndromes, both diseases are typically considered to be multifactorial in etiology with an uncertain etiology. However, recent literature suggests that it is highly probable that NP in many, if not nearly all cases, has an association with underlying cervical disease at the C5-C6 levels. This elucidation has resulted in a paradigm shift in evaluation and treatment of NP as cervical disease with referred skin manifestations to the mid back. Notalgia paresthetica and BRP may occur concurrently in the same patients. To determine possible underlying cervical spine disease, it is vital to examine the neck and consider radiographic studies of the spine. Collaborative multispecialty evaluation may be indicated in primary management of these two conditions. For cases of NP and BRP that are associated with cervical disease, the first-line therapy may include nondermatologic spinal treatments. Many cases of NP and BRP are most likely dermatologic signs of underlying degenerative spine, disc, and muscle disease.

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