The brachial plexus is a network of nerves responsible for transmitting messages from the spine to the hand, arm, and shoulder. A brachial plexus injury appears when any of these nerves are compressed or stretched. These minor injuries are commonly referred to as burners or stingers in football or other contact sports.
In more serious instances of brachial plexus lesions, the nerves are completely torn or ripped away from the spinal cord. These types of injuries are typically the result of automobile accidents. Ripped or torn brachial plexus nerves may leave the patient’s arm paralyzed with a loss of sensation and function.
With brachial plexus injuries, the patient’s rate of recovery depends on the severity and type of injury. It’s imperative for the physician to properly diagnose the injury to decide whether the patient has the potential for a spontaneous recovery.
As previously mentioned, minor brachial plexus nerve stretches or compressions may be able to heal on their own within three to four months. During this time, physical therapy may be used as a treatment to expedite the recovery process.
However, if the rate of recovery doesn’t suit the patient or if the injury is severe enough, the physician may recommend a surgical option. Surgical interventions are designed to serve two different functions:
Repair of the brachial plexus injury
Confirmation of diagnosis