The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that transmits signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand; brachial plexus injuries therefore affect the signal transmission to these areas. Brachial plexus may be injured or damaged due to shoulder trauma, tumors, or inflammation.
Obstetric injuries that arise during a difficult childbirth (due to a condition called shoulder dystocia) may also cause brachial plexus injury. Physical insults may cause the nerves in the plexus to stretch or get torn. Auto or motor cycle accidents, falls, contact sports are all common causes that traumatise the brachial plexus. The upper part of the brachial plexus often gets damaged where the shoulder is forced down and the neck stretches away from the injured shoulder. On the other hand, the lower nerves become vulnerable when one’s arm is forced above the head.
Minor injuries may result in symptoms like a burning or an electric-shock like sensation along the nerves of the upper limb, weakness or numbness. More severe injuries are associated with an inability to move the arm. While minor injuries get repaired on their own, serious ones may require surgical interventions. Physical therapy plays a major role in limiting or preventing disability.
References:1. Davis, DH.; Onofrio, BM.; MacCarty, CS. (Dec 1978). "Brachial plexus injuries.". Mayo Clin Proc 53 (12): 799-807.
2. Narakas, A.O. "The Treatment of Brachial Plexus Injuries." Link.springer.com. International Orthopaedics, June 1985. Web. 28 Jan. 2013.
3. Lorei, MP.; Hershman, EB. (Aug 1993). "Peripheral nerve injuries in athletes. Treatment and prevention.". Sports Med 16 (2): 130-47.
Latest Publications and Research on Brachial Plexus InjuryIsolation and Purification of Primary Rodent Schwann Cells. - Published by PubMed
Two Cases of Traumatic Brachial Plexus Injury With Complete Spinal Cord Injury. - Published by PubMed
Partial Recovery of Limb Function Following End-to-Side Screw Anastomosis of Phrenic Nerve in Rats with Brachial Plexus Injury. - Published by PubMed
Editorial. Time to repair and outcome after traumatic brachial plexus injury: is sooner always better? - Published by PubMed
Timing of surgery in traumatic brachial plexus injury: a systematic review. - Published by PubMed