Given enough time, many brachial plexus injuries in both children and adults heal with no lasting damage. But some injuries can cause temporary or permanent problems:
May. 01, 2014
- Stiff joints. If you experience paralysis of your hand or arm, your joints can stiffen, making movement difficult, even if you regain use of your limb. For that reason, your doctor is likely to recommend ongoing physical therapy during your recovery.
- Pain. This results from nerve damage and may become chronic.
- Loss of feeling. If you lose feeling in your arm or hand, you run the risk of burning or injuring yourself without knowing it.
- Muscle atrophy. Slow-growing nerves can take several years to heal after injury. During that time, lack of use may cause the affected muscles to break down (degenerate).
- Permanent disability. How well you recover from a serious brachial plexus injury depends on a number of factors, including your age and the type, location and severity of the injury. Even with surgery, some people experience permanent disability, ranging from weakness in the hand, shoulder or arm to paralysis.
- NINDS brachial plexus injuries information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brachial_plexus/brachial_plexus.htm. Accessed Oct. 1, 2013.
- Erb's palsy (brachial plexus birth palsy). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00077. Accessed Oct. 1, 2013.
- Brachial plexus. American Society for Surgery of the Hand. http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/BrachialPlexus.aspx. Accessed Oct. 1, 2013.
- Bromberg MB. Brachial plexus syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 1, 2013.
- Burners and stingers. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00027. Accessed Oct. 1, 2013.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Sept. 5, 2013.
- Giuffre JL, et al. Current concepts of the treatment of adult brachial plexus injuries. The Journal of Hand Surgery. 2010;35:678.
- Yang LJ, et al. A systematic review of nerve transfer and nerve repair for the treatment of adult upper brachial plexus injury. Neurosurgery. 2012;71:417.
- Neuropathic pain. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/pain/neuropathic_pain.html?qt=neuropathic%20pain&alt=sh. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Pain: hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/chronic_pain/detail_chronic_pain.htm. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 4, 2013.
- Spinner RJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 26, 2013.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 2, 2014.
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