The Brachial Plexus is a collection of nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the upper extremities and promotes normal functioning of the hands. An individual with a minor Brachial Plexus Injury will experience electric shock like sensations traveling down the upper extremities. In severe cases, the affected individual may completely or partially lose the ability to use the hand for activities like gripping, grasping or feeling objects.
There may also be paralysis of the affected hand as a result of a severe Brachial Plexus Injury. Minor cases of Brachial Plexus Injury can be easily treated with bracing and supportive treatments; however, severe cases require surgery in the form of a nerve transfer to restore function of the nerves and return the functionality of the hands.
For preventing brachial plexus injuries it is essential to know about the causes of this condition.
How Does A Brachial Plexus Injury Occur?
Most of the damage to the brachial plexus is done when the shoulder is moved backwards and the neck is stretched upwards and away from the shoulder. This normally happens during a back tackle while playing contact sports like football or rugby. Brachial Plexus Injury occurring while playing are relatively minor and do not cause much problems and heal within a short span of time.
Another cause for Brachial Plexus Injury is high risk delivery of a baby. This usually occurs when the weight of the baby is higher than normal, the baby is delivered with breech presentation, or the mother has to undergo a prolonged labor. If the shoulder of the baby gets caught in the birth canal then there is a high chance of a Brachial Plexus Injury in the newborn infant.
Trauma is yet another cause of a Brachial Plexus Injury. Injuries due to such incidences are relatively serious and require significant amount of time to heal. In most of the cases, a penetrating trauma such as a gunshot or a stab wound to the shoulder or surrounding areas cause a Brachial Plexus Injury. A high impact motor vehicle crash may also result in a serious Brachial Plexus Injury.
There are also certain tumors around the brachial plexus region that also have the potential to cause Brachial Plexus Injury. Additionally, treatment for certain forms of cancer where the patient is given radiation treatments around the chest region can also damage the brachial plexus and cause Brachial Plexus Injury.