Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that send signals to the shoulder, arm and hand.  Injures to any of these nerves from shoulder trauma, tumors or inflammation may result in decreased motor or sensory function.  The main nerves originating from the brachial plexus are the radial, median and ulna nerves.

Symptoms include:

  • Limp or paralyzed arm
  • Lack of muscle control in the arm, hand or wrist
  • Decreased feeling in the arm or hand

The severity of the symptom is determined by the nerve affected and the degree of damage to the nerve or nerves.

Causes include:

  • Sports Injury
  • Trauma
  • Inflammation
  • Tumor
  • Complications during birth


Treatment will depend on a number of factors including, the nerve affected, severity of  injury and length of time since injury.  Often brachial plexus injuries can be treated with non-surgical means, such as rest, bracing and physical therapy.  If these non-surgical treatments fail and/or the nerve is severed, your neurosurgeon may recommend surgery.

The goal of surgery is to repair the nerves and restore function.

  • Nerve Repair: the nerve is reconnected.
  • Nerve Replacement: damaged nerve is replaced with a healthy nerve.
  • Surgical Resection: to remove abnormal tissue, such as a growth or tumor.


References: American Association of Neurological Surgeons,  National Institute of Health, Barrow Neurological Institute.

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