Brachial Plexus Nerve Injury

by Sam Malone


To take a quick look as to what brachial plexus is, it is defined as an assembly of nerve fibres (a plexus) coming from the spine (vertebrae), through the neck, the axilla (armpit region), and into the arm. The brachial plexus is accountable for cutaneous and muscular stimulation of the whole upper limb which includes the arm, shoulder or hand. Any injury or lesions to the plexus can pose a serious functional injury. A brachial plexus injury (Erbs Palsy) is a nerve injury. The damaged nerves are responsible for the control of muscles in the shoulder, arm or hand. Damage may mean the paralyzation of any or all of these muscles. People with brachial plexus injuries are impaired in many a ways. Some can either have numbness of the arm or hand; still some can have shoulder injuries but can use their hands. Disability however, largely depends on which nerves are harmed and the level of severity of the damage.

Brachial plexus nerve injuries can happen forthwith, but most injuries occur during birth. This happens when the baby's shoulders are unable to move during delivery because of mother's too narrow birth canal, causing the brachial plexus nerves to extend and come apart. At least about 1 or 2 in 1,000 babies undergo brachial plexus injuries at birth. This injury is not congenital. Aside from birth injuries, other causes are trauma from sports injuries, thoracic outlet syndrome, tumors and entrapment neuropathies. Possible treatments range from exercise and therapy, or surgery and therapy.

There are four types of nerve injuries to the brachial plexus: (1) avulsion injuries, considered the most serious type of injury because the nerve is ripped from its connection to the spinal cord; (2) rupture injuries (there is torn nerve but not at the spinal cord); (3) neuroma injuries, due to scar tissues growing around the hurt nerve. The scar formed puts pressure on the weight on the nerve and stops the nerve from sending signals to the muscles. The last type of nerve injury is praxis. This is the most common type and it also called stretch injuries.

There are types of brachial plexus nerve injuries that will heal without medication. The younger the affected is, there is possibility to recover in 3 or 4 months' time. Treatment for brachial plexus nerve injuries may vary. For some occupational or physical therapy will do but in some cases, surgery. This is will usually present with either partial or complete weakness of the upper arm depending on the level of injury to the nerves. But in children, surgery may or may not be successful. It is recommended that surgery be done when the child is old enough to follow instructions.

Daily exercises are recommended because this will greatly help keep he muscles and joints moving normally. Exercises also keep the muscles and joints elastic. When the nerves are in good condition, the muscles and joints are prepared to work normally. But various treatment options will be discussed by your doctor. Specific recommendations based on individual situation can do to help assure the best efficient result.


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