Brachial Plexy

Brachial Plexy or Brachial Plexopathy is the medical condition whereby the Brachial Plexus may be impaired, causing limitation in motion, pain, decreased in sensation in the arm and shoulder, or painful stinging burning sensations upon the touch to other objects, such as clothing. Brachial Plexy may be caused by direct injury to the nerve, injuries due to birth trauma, pressure injury due to tumors, and injury caused by radiation therapy. Whether due to a brachial plexus injury or condition, proper diagnosis and specialized treatment through early intervention  may a play a role in the outcome of the quality of life for individuals with Brachial Plexy.

Symptoms of Brachial Plexy

Brachial Plexus injury symptoms or those from a condition may vary, depending upon whether the condition is acute (recent onset) or chronic (longer than 2 months) in nature. The following are symptoms associated with Brachial Plexy.

      Acute Injury:

  • Feeling of electric shock (running down the arm)
  • Burning Sensation
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Pain, severe (for severe injuries)

      Chronic Injury:

  • Muscle atrophy
  • Chronic shoulder pain
  • ·Acute Injury Symptoms

Diagnosis

To diagnosis and  identify treatment options for Brachial Plexy, it is valuable to conduct research in selecting your physician and be equipped to have a strong Q and A session with the physician or medical specialist. Neuromuscular diseases like Brachial Plexy may benefit from the following diagnostic tests.

Electromyelography – This test measures the integrity of the nerves to conduct impulses and to move muscles. Electrodes are inserted to the muscles where voluntary movements are recorded as impulse strength per muscle. Injured nerves included in the severed nerve cord in Brachial Plexopathy will transmit weaker impulses compared to normal nerves.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – MRI utilizes radio waves and magnetic fields to visualize structures in the body and localize lesions in the spinal cord nerve roots. A totally severed nerve root in spine included in the Brachial Plexus may be revealed during the imaging process.

Computerized Tomography (CT) myelography – CT myelogram is performed by inserting a radioactive dye during a spinal tap and exposing the spinal cords and nerves through the CT for imaging. Nerve roots and the cords will be more accentuated during the imaging process where multiple x-ray beams pass through the target site. The comminuted nerves of Brachial Plexy may be elucidated accordingly.

Other Possible Conditions?

Infants with Brachial Plexy may be diagnosed early in life. However, there are some medical conditions that closely mimic Brachial Plexy, such as paralysis due to exposure to toxins, drugs, and chemicals. Congenital Anomalies that exert pressure in the neck area may show signs of weakness in the distribution of the plexus. Latent effects of general anesthesia post operatively may mimic symptoms of Brachial Plexy. Inflammatory reactions from viruses or immune system problems will show signs that relate with Brachial Plexy.

Treatment for Brachial Plexy

Brachial Plexy may spontaneously resolve in the case of temporary nerve damage, but may require extensive surgery for severe injuries that may be staged in several sessions throughout life. The following are the treatment options available for Brachial Plexy.

Nerve Surgery – Neurosurgeons may perform a nerve graft and replace a damaged nerve with a functional nerve harvested from the other less important organs of the body. In the case of a severed nerve involving the C5 – C6 roots, surgeons may attach nerves from other less important sites and bind the new nerve near the affected muscles for faster recovery. Peripheral nerve microsurgery is an option that has grown in popularity.

Muscle Transfer – Chronic Brachial Plexus injury may lead to muscular dystrophy. Muscles from less important sites may be harvested to be grafted in arm and shoulder muscles, making muscles more functional.

Pain Control – In acute nerve damage following a Brachial plexus injury where pain is severe and burning, Opiates like Codeine may be preferred to control pain. Anti-depressants and anti-convulsants may also help alleviate the symptoms of acute disease.

Rehabilitation – Rehabilitation is an integral part of the treatment for brachial plexopathy. This treatment may involve multiple routine exercises that may enable the individual to use his or her affected limbs with independence, to compensate with the development of new strategies to perform daily living skills, and to cope with disabilities through counseling by a mental health professional.

There may be a wide variety of other the multi-interdisciplinary medical team which may include one or more types of medical professionals, such as a Pediatrician, Internal Medicine, Neurosurgeon, Orthopedist, Occupational Therapist, Developmental Therapist, Physiatrist or Mental Health Provider, Social Worker and Special Education Teacher.

Outcome

Brachial Plexy may be sustained at the moment of birth or may be acquired via traumatic physical injury. Individuals suffering from this disease may have permanent disability, particularly if left untreated or in cases where the individual is not responsive to treatment. Thus, early detection is of paramount importance. The non-surgical adjuncts to treatment in the form of rehabilitation are key to functionality and should be given utmost attention in all individuals with Brachial Plexy.

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition. Your Health Access disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.