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Brachial Plexus Injury

The brachial plexus is the network of nerves that sends signals from your spinal cord to your shoulder, arm and hand. A brachial plexus injury occurs when these nerves are ripped apart from the spinal cord, stretched or compressed.  Minor brachial plexus injuries can happen during contact sports and can even happen to babies during birth. 

Motorcycle accidents hold the most severe brachial plexus injuries.  Tumors can put pressure on the brachial plexus causing symptoms, and radiation treatments to the chest may cause damage to the brachial plexus.  Severe brachial plexus injuries can leave your arm paralyzed with a complete loss of sensation.  Surgical interventions such nerve transfers/grafts or muscle transfers can help restore function.

Symptoms

 

Signs and symptoms of a brachial plexus injury can vary greatly, depending on the severity and location of your injury. Usually only one arm is affected.

Less Severe:

  • A feeling like an electric shock or a burning sensation shooting down your arm

  • Numbness and weakness in your arm

More Severe:

  • Weakness or inability to use certain muscles in your hand, arm or shoulder

  • Complete lack of movement and feeling in your arm, including your shoulder and hand

  • Severe pain