The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that start in the spinal cord in the neck and travel down the arm. These nerves control the muscles of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand, as well as provide feeling in the arm. If you have a brachial plexus injury, it means you have damaged a nerve.
Nerve injuries can be very serious, as they can stop signals to and from the brain. Nerves can be damaged by stretching, pressure or cutting. Stretching can occur when the head and neck are forced away from the shoulder, such as during a motorcycle or car accident. Pressure could occur if the brachial plexus is crushed, which can happen during a fracture or dislocation. You will know if you have a nerve injury, as opposed to just a broken bone or other injury, if you’ve lost feeling in your arm.
It is extremely important to receive treatment immediately after your injury to improve your chances of recovery. Depending on the severity of your injury, your nerves could recover in a matter of weeks. If the nerve is cut, it can grow back, although it happens slowly (about 1 inch per month). But, for very serious nerve injuries, you may be permanently disabled. Some injuries may need surgery. Some injuries may get better with time and therapy.
Regardless, recovering from a brachial plexus injury can be a long journey. Because there is loss of feeling in the arm, it is essential to take caution not to burn yourself or cut yourself during recovery.
Learn more about brachial plexus injuries at www.HandCare.org.