The Brachial Plexus and Types of Injuries

The brachial plexus is a complex array of nerves that branches off the spinal cord at your neck. It is responsible for sending signals from your brain to your shoulders, arms and hands. Each of the five nerves in the array has a specific function, including stimulating muscles or relaying information about temperature or touch to your brain.

Brachial plexus injuries vary in severity, often based on the type of injury and the amount of force encountered. Injuries can affect any combination of those five nerves, and each may suffer different levels of damage.

The primary types of injuries include:

  • Stretch:  The protective covering of the nerve can be damaged when there is mild stretching of the brachial plexus nerves. This can hamper conduction of nerve signals, even if the nerves underneath aren’t damaged. These injuries may heal on their own, with the assistance of physical therapy.
  • Rupture: A more forceful stretch of the brachial plexus may cause partial or full tears. Often, these injuries are repaired through surgery.
  • Avulsion: The most severe brachial plexus injury occurs when the nerve root is torn away from your spinal cord. These injuries require surgery to regain function. 

Request an Appointment

If you are experiencing symptoms or have been diagnosed with a brachial plexus injury, our doctors will meet with you to evaluate your injury, discuss your care options and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

Meet Our Team

Karan A. Desai, MD

Surgery of the Hand

Colleen M. Zittel, MD

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

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