Brachial Plexus
injuries

Table of Contents

What is the brachial plexus?

The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that start near your neck and branch off to form many of the nerves controlling sensation and movement in your shoulders, arms, forearms, and hands.

When this network of nerves is impaired, it’s called brachial plexus injury (BPI). There are several causes of BPI, but it’s usually due to trauma to the nerve. The most common causes of brachial plexus injury include:

  • Falls
  • Sports injuries from collisions
  • High-speed car or motorcycle accidents
  • Pressure from tumors
  • Nerve damage from cancer treatment
  • Difficult childbirth

Certain factors, like playing contact sports or being in a high-speed car accident, increase your risk of brachial plexus injury.

What are the symptoms of a brachial plexus injury?

In most cases, brachial plexus injuries only cause symptoms in one arm that can last for a few seconds or persist for days.

The symptoms of BPI vary from person to person depending on the location of your injury and its severity. Minor damage typically causes weakness, numbness, or a burning sensation or electric jolt running down your arm.

More severe BPI injuries can involve tears or ruptures in your nerves. This kind of damage can lead to the inability to use certain muscles in your shoulder, arm, or hand, the complete lack of movement or feeling in your arm, or intense pain.

When left untreated, brachial plexus injuries can lead to permanent damage.

How are brachial plexus injuries diagnosed and treated?

During your appointment at Arizona Center for Hand to Shoulder Surgery for a Brachial plexus checkup, your doctor performs a physical examination that often includes:

  • MRI to evaluate brachial plexus damage
  • CT scans to provide detailed pictures of your spinal cord and nerve roots
  • Nerve conduction studies to test your nerve function
  • Electromyography (EMG) to measure electrical activity in your muscles

Based on your tests, your doctor may suggest a variety of treatments, including surgery. The most common surgical procedures for BPI are nerve grafts to remove and replace damaged nerves, nerve transfers that connect working nerves to areas where nerves are torn away, and muscle transfers to reconnect nerves and blood vessels.

If you’re suffering from the symptoms of a brachial plexus injury, contact Arizona Center for Hand to Shoulder Surgery for a consultation. Their caring staff will be honored to take care of you.

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