The brachial plexus is the set of nerves that makes the communication between the arms and brain. Everything that happens to our arm, like the sensations and movements of the shoulders, elbows, forearms, wrists and hands depend on the health and situation of the brachial plexus.
Nerves are like a cord made up of many clustered fibers (resembling an electric cord). These "cables" carry and bring information from the brain and spinal cord to the arm. It is from these messages that the movements are produced and the sensations are perceived.
The brachial plexus carries information to the brain that allows us to identify objects that touch the skin, perceive different temperatures or perceive stimuli that can cause pain, which is important to protect the arm from an injury, for instance.
In addition, the execution of movements - from the simplest, such as raising one's arm, to the most delicate and complex, such as hand movements - depends on these nerves. The traumatic injury of the brachial plexus is characterized by a compromise of this set of nerves and consequently of these abilities.
The main causes of the traumatic injury of the brachial plexus are traumas related to traffic accidents involving cars, motorcycles, public transport, bicycle and pedestrians - more than 80% of the injuries are due to motorcycle accidents. Accidents at work, home, sports, and injuries to the neck and shoulder can also cause this kind of injury.
If you have had any trauma affecting your shoulder, neck, arm, hand, and any of the following signs on your arm and / or hand, seek medical advice for a full examination as soon as possible:
The signs and symptoms will depend on the location, type and severity of the injury. The clinical examination is the best tool to identify such injuries, and for cases like this you will be referred to a neurologist or neurosurgeon. The clinical examination also evaluates the history of the trauma and the patient's complaints. Physical evaluation is also performed, where, through specific tests, the strength (movements) and the sensitivity of the shoulder, arm and hand will be examined. However, it is quite common for other tests to be performed to help identify and/or confirm and detail the injury. This information is particularly important in planning the next steps in your rehabilitation. The most used exams are Electromyoneurography (ENMG) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
Traumatic injuries of the brachial plexus are varied, and can affect the set of nerves in different ways. Symptoms and even treatment will depend on the location and severity of the injury.
Below, the types of injuries that occur most frequently: