Brachial Plexus Injury

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Brachial Plexus Injury

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. There are many different conditions and syndromes that have occupied the medical spotlight recently. While many people have heard of these conditions, few people actually understand what they are. For those who have been confused by the term brachial plexus injury, please see some important information below.

What is the Brachial Plexus?

Before a traumatic injury to the brachial plexus can be discussed, it is important to define what the brachial plexus is. The brachial plexus is a complicated network of nerves that originate from the spinal cord at the top near the neck. The first nerve off of the brachial plexus starts at the C5 vertebrae and the last nerve from the brachial plexus comes out at T1. These nerves are vital because they control all of the motor and sensory function of the elbows, forearms, wrists, shoulders and hands. Without these nerves, people would lose the ability to move their upper limbs or sense pressure, pain, and temperature. Unfortunately, injuries to the brachial plexus are relatively common.

Symptoms of a Brachial Plexus Injury

Similar to other common medical conditions, a brachial plexus injury can range widely in severity from simple irritation of the nerve to a complete dissection of one or more of the brachial plexus nerves; however, the most common symptom of an injury to the brachial plexus is pain. Specifically, the pain starts at the top of the brachial plexus near the neck and will radiate down the shoulder or forearm. Examples of injuries to the brachial plexus include stretching the nerve (irritating the fibers), pressure on the nerve (contact to the nerve itself), or cutting the nerve (partially or completely).

Various Mechanisms of Injury

Perhaps the most common mechanism of injury to the brachial plexus it a sudden jerk of the head in one direction or the other. If the nerves are stretched by this movement beyond their flexibility, the nerves could sever. In addition, a bone fracture or a shoulder dislocation can dislocate bones from their proper anatomical position. If they come in contact with the brachial plexus, this could lead to an injury. Finally, babies can be born with a brachial plexus injury. The two most common injuries are called Erb’s Palsy and Klumpke’s Palsy. These refer to injuries that sever multiple nerves in the brachial plexus, leading to significant loss of function of the upper limb that is usually permanent.

Diagnosis and Treatment of a Brachial Plexus Injury

There are a variety of diagnostic methods when it comes to a nerve injury. The physician will first examine the limb to look for a loss of function. The physician may order a nerve conduction test with an EMG. This test will see if the muscles that are powered by the nerves are still functioning. If the muscles aren’t working, the nerve may be damaged. Finally, the physician may also order a MRI to get an accurate image of the nerves themselves. The treatment will consist of a combination of rehabilitation of nerve injuries and possible surgery to reconnect the nerves; however, it will take some time to establish just how much nerve function the patient may have lost.

Contact an Experienced Nerve Injury Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Brachial plexus injuries are severe and can result in a permanent loss of function. Anyone suffering a nerve injury should contact me at (916) 921-6400 for friendly, free advice. I can be reached toll-free number at (800) 404-5400 when calling outside the greater Sacramento region.

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Photo Attribution: Wikimedia Commons

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