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Table 1 The differential diagnosis of Parsonage-Turner syndrome, based on Van Alfen et al.[2]

From: Parsonage-Turner syndrome following post-exposure prophylaxis

Orthopaedic disorders Distinguishing features
Rotator cuff pathology Subacute or insidious onset, pain intensity varies, worsens with motion, weakness, progressive
Adhesive capsulitis Subacute onset, pain, ‘frozen shoulder’, limited range of motion (active and passive), progressive
Subacromial bursitis Subacute onset, pain along front and side, nighttime pain, painful arc of motion, fluctuating course
Calcific tendinitis Subacute onset, pain, worsens with elevation, sometimes stiffness, self-limiting
Osteoarthritis Insidious onset, pain, worsens with motion, stiffness, secondary weakness, slowly progressive
Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy Onset during adolescence, facial weakness, weakening biceps/triceps/deltoids, hearing loss, painless, progressive
Cervical spondylosis with referred brachialgia Often posture or activity dependent, no neurological deficits, fluctuating course
(Primary) tumors of the scapula Non acute onset, scapular winging without weakness and no neurological symptoms
Neurological disorders Distinguishing features
Cervical radiculopathy, degenerative Insidious onset, slowly progressive or fluctuating course
Cervical radiculopathy, discrupture Acute onset, pain varies with posture: pain, sensory and motor symptoms occur in the same dermatome
Mononeuritis multiplex/vasculitis Symptoms also occur in legs or distal arm, subacute onset, progressive
Multifocal motor neuropathy Painless, no sensory symptoms, distal predominance, progressive
Asian tick-borne encephalitis (poliomyelitic) Following viral prodrome, severe headache and back pain, flaccid shoulder girdle paralysis
Focal motor neuron disease Insidious onset, no sensory symptoms, painless, progressive
Entrapment neuropathies Subacute onset, mild to moderate pain, prominent sensory symptoms
Other disorders Distinguishing features
Complex regional pain syndrome Subacute onset, vasomotor features predominate, diffuse pain and weakness, progressive
Lyme disease Subacute onset, swelling, pain, rash, fever, fatigue, fluctuating course