What is brachial plexus injury?

Brachial plexus injury refers to any damage to the brachial plexus, a set of nerves that runs between your spine and your shoulders, arms and hands. Damage to these nerves can result in abnormal sensations, numbness, tingling, or difficulty controlling the muscles of the shoulder, arm or hand.

Injury to the brachial plexus can be very mild, such as in the case of a stretch or compression injury (athletic stinger). It can also be quite severe if nerves in the brachial plexus become crushed or severed. Brachial plexus injury can occur as a result of trauma, masses or swelling (including tumors), surgery, or inflammation, including inflammation due to infection.

Brachial plexus injury can be permanent, as in the case of a completely severed nerve, or it may spontaneously resolve, as with in certain cases of inflammation. Physical therapy may help you regain normal feeling and arm function in some cases of brachial plexus injury. Severe cases of brachial plexus injury may require surgery. The effectiveness of treatment depends on the severity and location of the brachial plexus injury.

Weakness, numbness or tingling in the arm can in some cases be a sign of stroke. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for sudden, severe pain in the arm or inability to move the arm, accompanied by sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of your body; a change in level of consciousness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness; sudden, severe headache; or difficulty with speech or vision.

Seek prompt medical care if you experience mild but persistent symptoms of brachial plexus injury, such as pain, swelling, numbness, or a lack of muscle control in the arm, hand or wrist.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of brachial plexus injury?

Symptoms of brachial plexus injury include problems with sensation and a lack of muscle control in the hand, arm and shoulder area. Generally, symptoms include pain, numbness, and difficulty moving.

Common symptoms of brachial plexus injury

Common symptoms of brachial plexus injury occur in the shoulder, arm or hand. You may experience brachial plexus injury symptoms da... Read more about brachial plexus injurysymptoms

CAUSES

What causes brachial plexus injury?

Brachial plexus injury can arise when the nerves of the brachial plexus are compressed, stretched or cut. Compression of the brachial plexus nerves may occur due to inflammation or a tumor pressing on the nerve. Stretching may occur as the result of the shoulder’s being forced apart from the head and neck. In more severe cases, nerves may become severed from the spinal cord, generally as a resu... Read more about brachial plexus injurycauses

TREATMENTS

How is brachial plexus injury treated?

Mild brachial plexus injuries will often heal spontaneously. In cases in which the brachial plexus injury is related to another injury, inflammation or a growth, treatment of the underlying cause will often resolve the brachial plexus injury.

In serious cases of brachial plexus injury, surgery may be required to restore functionality. Physical therapy may also be helpful for resto... Read more about brachial plexus injurytreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves