What is the Brachial Plexus?

If we want to being understanding brachial plexus injury, we first need to learn a bit more. The term “brachial plexus” refers to a group of nerves. Specifically, it covers those that control movement and sensation in several body parts.
These are:

  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Wrists
  • Hands

Injuries to this network are comparatively rare. They almost exclusively result from physical trauma. Scientists note that any injury that resulted in extreme trauma from the spinal cord to the hand could cause damage to these nerves.

Dr. Yashar is a top neurosurgeon in Los Angeles. His extensive knowledge of the human body means he can inform and treat many conditions. If you believe you’ve had an injury that affected your nerves, call us today. We’re here to answer all your questions.

Continue reading to learn more about this unique injury. And, find out what how you can treat it.

Recognizing a Brachial Plexus Injury

Unfortunately, nerve damage is not as cut and dry as many other types of injuries. If you’ve been hospitalized due to the initial injury, then your doctor will most likely monitor your progress to ensure the nerves haven’t been affected. However, if you didn’t need immediate medical attention for the initial injury, then it is up to you to recognize the signs and seek help.

Experts warn that patients should be wary if they begin to experience certain symptoms. Examples are shooting pains, loss of feeling in the arm or hand, inconsistent control of those appendages, or if the arm goes totally limp. As these injuries can occur in infants during childbirth, parents must pay careful attention to their baby’s use of their arms in the days following birth.

Some injuries will heal naturally. Many affected infants fully recover within four months. However, healing and treatment vary greatly based on the type of injury that occurred.

Types of Injuries

There are three main types of brachial plexus injuries, according to the.

  • Avulsion
  • Neuropraxia
  • Rupture

These are further divided according to the location and severity of the injury along the brachial plexus.

  • Upper-trunk
  • Lower-trunk
  • Pan-plexus

Avulsion injuries are considered the most severe. These occur when the nerve root has been physically torn from the spinal cord. Treating them with surgery doesn’t always work.

Rupture injuries are partial or complete tears along the nerves. Neuropraxia injuries are the least severe. They are caused by mild stretching of the brachial plexus and usually self-correct with time.

Treating an Injury

If you have a brachial plexus injury, then time is of the essence. Experts warn that these injuries should always receive treatment within six to seven months of the initial injury. Every day that muscles don’t receive appropriate nerve input reduces the chances they will function normally in the future. Even after surgery.

Therefore, if you suspect that you have a brachial plexus injury, you should contact your doctor immediately. First, request a referral to a qualified neurosurgeon. Your primary health care provider and neurosurgeon will work together to perform the required diagnostic tests. These typically include imaging tests. Or, they could be tests that check nerve function or electrical activity.

If your injury is caused by neuropraxia, then you’re in luck. Between 90-100% of all patients with this injury recover on their own. However, if an avulsion or a rupture causes your symptoms, then it is time to discuss your options with your neurosurgeon.

Surgical Treatments

You may attempt to pursue surgical treatment for an avulsion injury. Still, you will have limited odds of success. Understanding brachial plexus injury is important before decided a treatment plan. Your surgeon will be able to evaluate your chances based on your particular case. However, many people successfully regain the use of the affected body part with surgery to treat a rupture. Both cases are typically accompanied by physical therapy afterward. But, a candid conversation with your trusted neurosurgeon will give you a realistic understanding of the process based on your injury.