Traumatic Brachial Plexus Injury

Also known as: brachial plexus injury

What is traumatic brachial plexus injury?

The brachial plexus is a bundle/network of peripheral nerves located in the area of the neck and shoulder. The plexus, also known as a network, begins as 5 nerves in the neck, exiting the spinal cord and contributing to branches (peripheral nerves) that extend into the shoulder, arm, forearm and hand.  These nerves transmit sensory information from and motor information to the arm and hand. An injury to the brachial plexus can cause a number of issues with the arms and hands.

What causes traumatic brachial plexus injury?

Injury to the brachial plexus can occur from a variety of causes. The nerves can be cut, stretched, crushed, or squeezed (compressed).  The location of the brachial plexus increases its risk for injury. Stretch or impact of the neck, shoulder or arm can lead to injuries to the nerves of the brachial plexus.

Traumatic causes for brachial plexus injury include traction injuries (e.g., motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries) and penetrating injuries (e.g., stab wounds/gunshot wounds).

What are the symptoms of traumatic brachial plexus injury?

Loss of sensation, loss of movement, weakness, numbness, and pain are all potential symptoms of traumatic brachial plexus injury.

How can traumatic brachial plexus injury affect children?

Traumatic brachial plexus injury can be challenging for children, as it can further complicate the milestones of developing fine and gross motor skills that occur throughout childhood. It can also lead to problems with the arms and hands developing in a normal fashion.

What are traumatic brachial plexus injury treatments?

Milder cases of traumatic brachial plexus injury may heal on their own over time. For more severe injuries, surgery may be necessary to repair/reconstruct the injured nerves.


Reviewed by: Aaron Berger, MD

This page was last updated on: January 15, 2020 09:56 AM

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