What is the definition of Brachial Plexopathy?

Brachial plexopathy is a form of peripheral neuropathy. It occurs when there is damage to the brachial plexus. This is an area on each side of the neck where nerve roots from the spinal cord split into each arm's nerves.

Damage to these nerves results in pain, decreased movement, or decreased sensation in the arm and shoulder.

What are the alternative names for Brachial Plexopathy?

Neuropathy - brachial plexus; Brachial plexus dysfunction; Parsonage-Turner syndrome; Pancoast syndrome

What are the causes for Brachial Plexopathy?

Damage to the brachial plexus is usually from direct injury to the nerve, stretching injuries (including birth trauma), pressure from tumors in the area (especially from lung tumors), or damage that results from radiation therapy.

Brachial plexus dysfunction may also be associated with:

  • Birth defects that put pressure on the neck area
  • Exposure to toxins, chemicals, or drugs
  • General anesthesia, used during surgery
  • Inflammatory conditions, such as those due to a virus or immune system problem

In some cases, no cause can be identified.

What are the symptoms for Brachial Plexopathy?

Symptoms may include:

  • Numbness of the shoulder, arm, or hand
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tingling, burning, pain, or abnormal sensations (location depends on the area injured)
  • Weakness of the shoulder, arm, hand, or wrist

What are the current treatments for Brachial Plexopathy?

Treatment is aimed at correcting the underlying cause and allowing you to use your hand and arm as much as possible. In some cases, no treatment is needed and the problem gets better on its own.

Treatment options include any of the following:

  • Medicines to control pain
  • Physical therapy to help maintain muscle strength.
  • Braces, splints, or other devices to help you use your arm
  • Nerve block, in which medicine is injected into the area near the nerves to reduce pain
  • Surgery to repair the nerves or remove something pressing on the nerves

Occupational therapy or counseling to suggest changes in the workplace may be needed.

Medical conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease can damage nerves. In these cases, treatment is also directed at the underlying medical condition.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Brachial Plexopathy?

A good recovery is possible if the cause is identified and properly treated. In some cases, there is partial or complete loss of movement or sensation. Nerve pain may be severe and may last for a long time.

What are the possible complications for Brachial Plexopathy?

Complications may include:

  • Deformity of the hand or arm, mild to severe, which can lead to contractures
  • Partial or complete arm paralysis
  • Partial or complete loss of sensation in the arm, hand, or fingers
  • Recurrent or unnoticed injury to the hand or arm due to diminished sensation

When should I contact a medical professional for Brachial Plexopathy?

Call your health care provider if you experience pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the shoulder, arm, or hand.

Central

REFERENCES

Chad DA, Bowley MP. Disorders of nerve roots and plexuses. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 106.

Waldman SD. Cervicothoracic interspinous bursitis. In: Waldman SD, ed. Atlas of Uncommon Pain Syndromes. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 23.

  • Condition: Persistent Weakness from Neonatal Brachial Plexus Palsy
  • Journal: Plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Treatment Used: Shoulder Release and Tendon Transfer
  • Number of Patients: 30
  • Published —
The study researched the outcomes of shoulder release and tendon transfer for patients with persistent weakness from neonatal brachial plexus palsy.
  • Condition: Brachial Plexus Injury
  • Journal: Photobiomodulation, photomedicine, and laser surgery
  • Treatment Used: Photobiomodulation After Neurotization with the Oberlin Procedure
  • Number of Patients: 14
  • Published —
In this study, researchers evaluated the outcomes of using photobiomodulation after neurotization with the Oberlin Procedure for the treatment of brachial plexus injuries.
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Enrolling by invitation
  • Intervention Type: Diagnostic Test
  • Participants: 16
  • Start Date: October 1, 2020
Central Programming in Patients With a Bionic Hand After Traumatic Brachial Plexus Injury
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Other
  • Participants: 32
  • Start Date: August 10, 2020
Role of Triceps Kinesiology Taping on Elbow Flexion Tightness in Extended Erb's Palsy Infants